Augmented reality is a powerful technological resource capable of creating interactive channels, incorporating virtual elements into the real world. Currently, many economic and industrial sectors are taking advantage of the qualities of this technology to achieve their organizational goals.
Consumers are attracted by their familiarity with the virtual environment, while organizational processes optimize their learning and operating curves thanks to the graphical component.
The ability to share a lot of useful information in a short time gives this technology a unique versatility. Let’s explore together what it really is and how it works.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality or AR is a term that describes all technologies capable of incorporating virtual elements graphically within the real world.
Since the objects, data, vectors, and images that the user perceives are positioned in the physical context that surrounds him, this technology allows a unique interactivity with the environment, in real time.
The ability to unite the virtual and the physical is one of the main attractions of this tool, this is because it can adapt to any space and take advantage of all dimensions to increase the user’s perception, providing data of interest and assisting in their activities.
Special care must be taken not to confuse augmented reality (AR) with virtual reality (VR), which, although they share a common evolution, offer different solutions.
Augmented reality vs. virtual reality
Virtual and augmented reality offer the user a unique and interactive sensory experience through electronic devices and graphics.
The main difference between the two technologies is that virtual reality seeks to immerse the user in a world that is 100% alien to the physical environment, i.e. it creates a completely new reality for the user. While augmented reality incorporates or adds virtual graphic elements to the real world.
In this way, AR does not seek to interfere with the user’s ability to interact with their environment, communicate with other people and perform their activities, but to enrich their perception of the real world with extra data in a graphical way.
What is needed for augmented reality to work?
Augmented reality systems are usually composed of:
- Camera: Device necessary to capture images of the real world or physical environment, which will serve as a guide for the introduction of the virtual component.
- Processor: Electronic element in charge of combining the images and processing the information.
- Software: Computer/logic element that manages the entire process.
- Image output: Screen where the user visualizes the image of the environment together with the virtual components superimposed.
- If you look closely, you will see that it is possible to integrate all the elements in quite small devices, such as smartphones. In fact, many basic apps include AR functionality, even if the user doesn’t notice it.
Other optional elements that elevate the functionalities of AR technology are:
- GPS: positioning system that enables dynamism of virtual components as the user moves or interacts with the environment.
- Guide / trigger / anchor points: Specific points in the real world, which the software can use as a reference to display information, orient itself or collect data (e.g., QR codes, sensors, images…).
- Visual point: A marker or guide that tells the software where to preferably display the graphic component.
- Basically, the software makes use of the images captured by the camera and together with the processor, creates the virtual objects or graphics that it will show to the user, incorporates them into the image (superimposing them as if they were in the real environment) and returns them to the user through the screen.
An everyday vision: AR in everyday life
The entertainment industry managed to massify AR technology thanks to Pokémon Go which, at the time, reached more than 40 million active users on its platform at the same time, exploring the surroundings in search of capturing fantastic creatures that, through the screens, could manifest themselves in the real world.
This not only demonstrated the potential of this technology, which had already been applicable since the late 1990s, but also caught the attention of small and large investors.
Today, AR technology continues to diversify in the industrial sector and in everyday life. Some good examples of everyday uses can be:
Face filters are a viral tool in social networks, where the mobile device uses the user’s face as a reference and superimposes a set of graphics or decorations, returning a superimposed or modified image of the user’s face, which even adapts to movement.
Google Maps: The Google Maps Live View system allows the user to see through the screen of their device a set of directions and location indications directly on their surroundings.
Google Lens: The Google Lens app not only serves to convert physical characters into digital text strings, but also allows to observe in real time translations, data and links related to the text captured through the camera and displays it directly on the real environment.
Some companies incorporate AR platforms to offer maintenance and functionality services to users. Brands such as Hyundai or Mercedes Benz, include apps where the user can walk around the vehicle with his mobile device, and it will indicate useful information about the components.
10 applications of Augmented Reality: A tool for technological progress
Outside of the simplest and most everyday uses, augmented reality offers many technological solutions for companies and different productive sectors, in areas of learning, operability and remote service.
Some advanced applications in the economic sector include
The incorporation of QR codes is one of the most practical and simple applications of AR technology, which taken to an advanced integration allows real-time visualization of useful information of products, areas, and equipment, directly on special lenses or mobile devices.
This is a great advantage both in product traceability and in different areas of maintenance and quality control, since a lot of information can be summarized in a single graphic.
For several years, picking systems with artificial vision have relied on AR technology to offer solutions in inventory, routing, and selection of products for their exit from the warehouse. Augmented vision technology allows personnel to navigate through the area with great efficiency and find any product at high speed.
3. Medical assistance
The healthcare sector has been able to take full advantage of this technology. In advanced applications, doctors can visualize anatomically precise structures and perform surgery in simulation.
This data can be consulted in real time during a procedure, request remote assistance, review the surgical plan in extended surgeries and even consult the patient’s history in seconds.
4. Educational assistance
Education through AR, which can bring abstract objects into a real environment, can benefit from the early stages to higher education.
Interactive notebooks that allow the recreation of 3D images with the cell phone, animated cards, anatomical structures, and the graphic functioning of some processes are just some of the alternatives.
5. Marketing and sales
The possibility of previewing a purchase represents an invaluable advantage for the sales sector: how the clothes will look on the customer, a body modification such as haircuts, dyes, tattoos, advertising banners that change depending on who looks at them through the cell phone or see the furniture in your salon before placing the order.
All this and more thanks to the application of augmented reality.
The incorporation of directions and navigation data in a graphical way can be very useful for any transportation industry, whether by sea, air, or land.
Remote consulting is a fundamental element for the maintenance of any plant. AR technology allows access to an almost infinite set of drawings and technical support materials, which enables maintenance personnel to perform complex operations on their own, without the need for advanced specialized knowledge.
As an added benefit, it does not deprive personnel of senses or perception of the surrounding space, so personnel can conduct their activities safely.
The ability to instantly translate any real-world graphic element (such as advertising, information boards, menus, or signage) is a great advantage that facilitates communication. It is especially useful for providing solutions to problems related to communication in the field of tourism.
Seeing structures and plans directly in space is a practical way for clients and architecture or construction professionals to visualize the works in a real environment, prior to the work being carried out.
By adding AR markers, it is possible to create engaging experiences for users in the environment. Obtain information on constellations, tourist sites, animals, plants, and other elements of interest by simply pointing the device in one direction.
As you can see, the application of augmented reality presents great advantages for any environment where it is useful to appreciate information or predesigned images in the physical world, in real time. Practically in any environment or activity.
All you need is vision and the right advice to incorporate one of the most promising technologies of the century in your company, bringing you a little closer to the efficient industry of tomorrow.
Would you like to build your own augmented reality project? Contact us today.