What is Augmented Reality?

If you’ve been reading the news lately, particularly coverage of Mobile World Congress 2016, you will have probably heard about Augmented Reality (AR). According to some noted tech experts, it has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of everyday life. So, what exactly is it?

AR is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time – a computer image being superimposed over the physical world. You can do this for yourself with dedicated smartphone apps. These AR apps use your mobile’s camera to trigger certain events. So you could place a special card on a table, and when you pointed your camera at it, it could transform on your mobile screen to a beanstalk that grows and grows.

But there are more sophisticated uses of the technology. Examples of AR-equipped devices include smart glasses, which are intended to provide the user with extra information about what they are looking at.

For instance, a mechanic or engineer could wear a pair of smart glasses while working on an aircraft or automobile. The device could feed them extra information on technical problems as they complete their work.

People have even thought that in the future, if you look at someone, software will show you that person’s social media profile – handy if you’re at an event and forget someone’s name! Or perhaps you’ll get map directions directly in your glasses.

Similarly, there are exciting implications for video gaming. Rather than watching graphics appear on a screen, you could put 3D characters into real environments, such as your living room, and interact with them!

Note that there’s an important difference between AR and VR (Virtual Reality). VR requires you to wear a headset that completely shuts out the real world. AR adds graphics to it.

As you can see, Augmented Reality is an exciting technology, which clearly has a lot of potential. We’re looking forward to see what innovations emerge in this area!