Beginner’s Guide to Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality is a new kind of technology that is used to superimpose information onto our real-world surroundings; this gives the user a sense of illusion, a bit similar to virtual reality. Technological advancements and recent developments have made it possible for people to use augmented reality on their smart phones.
How Does Augmented Reality Work?
AR usually works by using mobile application; the mobile camera identifies and interprets specific markers. The software then analyzes these markers to create a virtual image on the mobile’s screen. Only smart phones are capable enough to support AR because of the soft ware requirements. Additionally, the smart phone must also have a camera and connection to good 3G or 4G internet.
Benefits of Augmented Reality Devices
Several companies are using augmented reality devices to improve user experience and decrease the costs of customer support expenses. Some of the top benefits of augmented reality for financial organizations include customized services, better lead generation and optimization of support costs.
Moreover, AR devices such as Google Glass are being used in operating theatres in hospitals to instruct doctors on how efficiently perform surgeries.
Here are some advantages of using Augmented Reality Devices such as the Google Glass:
- Mobility: AR devices are great way to train workers who are constantly on the go. People in real estate can also use this technology to set up tours from place to place. This is highly beneficial for people with accessibility issues, helping them reach structures and spots that were previously impossible to reach for all humans.
- Offers a Unique Experience: Utilizing Augmented Reality in an overall marketing campaign is the best way to entice the curiosity of your customers. Such applications have a novelty factor that immediately grabs attention.
- Personalization: Using AR allows you to upload your own media that is specifically related to the user. Since the media is designed for the user, it tends to be far more interesting than a standard image or a video.
- Interactive: Apart from high quality, the content created by the AR reality applications is a lot of fun and highly entertaining.
- Fantastic way of Learning: AR is a fantastic method of transferring knowledge and initiating training. Physical models, detailed illustrations and posters are all quite expensive to purchase and tend to get misplaced over time. With the help of AR, you no longer have to invest in physical study materials. Using AR allows you to save up on expensive course materials while interacting with your students.
The Best Augmented Reality Headsets
Augmented Reality Glasses are wearable computers that enable users to see computer generated information in the real world by wearing a lightweight optical heal-worn display. The glasses use various optical integrations to project a digital view. The experience can be controlled by the user through gesture, speech, motion and touch control.
The best augmented reality glasses in the market include:
Google Glass is a tiny head mounted display that projects superimposed information right in front of your eyes. The device is connected to your phone, allowing you to check the weather, GPS, your missed calls, etc, all without using your hands.
The device works with multiple third-party apps and you can even use these pair of innovative glasses to take pictures and shoot videos. The Google Glass is certainly the eyewear of the future.
- The Google Glass is much like a portable, hands-free smartphone that you can wear. You can make calls and browse through your favorite music, all hands-free.
- It has a number of cool apps that help you complete your everyday tasks without a worry. Some apps you should check out include SwingByte, GoogleNow and GolfSite. Additionally, the device supports most mobile systems including Android, Blackberry, Firefox and Tizen.
- Unlike phones and cameras, Google Glass is very subtle and allows one to record videos and take photos without causing other people to notice. Users must utilize the device sensibly and legally. Always take permission before recording somebody or else you can get into some serious trouble.
- The gadget can cause high risk of distraction, causing one to become anti-social as they are disconnected with the real world. The dangerous risks of the product are high because it never stops sending ads, emails and notifications that can distract you while you are driving.
- Sure, the Google Glass is a wonder to have, but it is indeed very pricy. Furthermore, the it is not easily available and only a number of the gadgets are for sale at the moment.
The Google Glass will enable you to break free from constant smartphone usage as its hands-free capability will encourage you to seek out more adventure. However, the 5 megapixel camera is not nearly as good enough as the one in your phone’s camera and the battery life really short as well. Overall, the Google Glass is not bad, but could definitely use some improvements.Find It On Amazon.com
The Microsoft HoloLens is a pair of augmented reality glasses that allows users to walk around while trying to interact with colorful virtual objects and images. Unlike the Google Glass, the HoloLens is built for stationary use.
The device is a must-have for gamers, interior decorators, aspiring designers or practically anybody who wants to play around with HD holographic images.
- Users can move around realistic holographic images and shapes just like real objects.
- The device is surprising easy to use and navigate. You can use the device by swiping your fingers or by giving voice commands. The fascinating piece of tech will be an excellent addition to an office.
- While the weight of the device is not uncomfortable to carry, it is still pretty heavy. The bulky device might give you headaches.
- The HoloLens is difficult to wear and does not fit well, causing one to continuously re-tighten and re-align the headgear.
- One of the biggest issues with the HoloLens is that the holographic view is limited to the size of monitor in front of you, which is equivalent to 15 inches.
The HoloLens is a delight to use, however, Microsoft needs to work out some kinks in the hardware and software. With a wider view and more robust apps, the HoloLens has great potential to become one of the best AR glasses in the world.Find It On Amazon.com
After a few attempts at making TV and personal displays, Vuzix released its own augmented reality glasses. The Vuzix M300 uses core platform powered using the Intel Atom Processor with GPS, Bluetooth, a full HD camera and both microSD and mircoUSB slots.
The ergonomically designed android based device has tons of pre-installed apps that allow you to track events, manage your calendar by linking it to your phone.
- The Vuzix has swappable batteries. If the battery is running low, you can simply replace it with a fully charged battery without turning off the glasses. Larger extended batteries are also available that have a battery life of around 12 hours.
- The Vuzix M300 is not only dust and water resistant, but can also withstand drops of up to 8 feet.
- It has many built-in features including the ability to record videos, track events, takes pictures and built in GPS.
- While the Vuzix M300 is itself android based, it is compatible with iOS operating systems.
- The versatile device can be mounted on a regular pair of frames including glasses, headsets and hard hats.
- While the smart glasses are a lot of fun to use, they are not designed for consumers and are mainly designed for enterprise use. The support apps and other useful features will not work as well for regular consumers.
- The short battery life is a major concern. While the device features swappable batteries, the default compact only works for 2 hours.
While these pair of smart glasses are seemingly better than their predecessor, the M100, it isn’t especially entertaining for regular consumers and is currently only beneficial for corporate professionals.Find It On Amazon.com
Best Augmented Reality Games
AR games have recently taken the world by storm, especially after the release of Pokémon Go. The market is not flooded with several mind-blowing options that consumers have to choose from. Such apps and games provide users a better experience by helping them feel more connected to the game. Here is a list of some of the best AR games in the market:
Its official, Pokémon Go is one of the trendiest and popular AR games in the world today. The game was a joint venture between Nintendo, The Pokémon Company and Niantic. Since its release in July, millions of people around the world have downloaded the addictive game that encourages people to walk and look for Pokémon.
In fact, the game is has been so popular that its servers have been continuously crashing. The location based AR game has become a global phenomenon and has been reportedly downloaded by over 100 million people around the world. However, the game has received mixed reviews since it has resulted in several accidents.
This awesome AR game turns reality into a military base and combines real life surroundings using 3-D animation. Users can choose from 25 different weapons, fire and reload at other opponents from the real world. The combat items include thermal vision, night vision and more.
The app displays videos from the iPhone’s rear camera, allowing the user to shoot virtual targets. This game is a must-have for FPS enthusiasts and is only available for iOS.
Ingress is by far one of the most amazing AR games ever to be created. It was the first AR game developed by Niantic that relies on GPS. The immersive game offers a fantastic blend of adventure, mystery and science fiction. Your main objective is to hack portals and create control fields by visiting various locations in the real world.
You can also have your own team and choose to fight with other people. While the game has the same overall mechanism as Pokémon Go, it has a different feel is targeted for gamers who want to try something different and new.
Life is Crime
Unlike other games such as Pokémon Go and Ingress that offer fun and entertainment, Life is Crime is a location-based AR game that features a real life concept of gangs and criminals. This game is must-have for people who love solving mysteries and catching villains. Gamers can engage in live-chat with their fellow players and fight with other gangs to capture territories, complete tasks and earn rewards.
The location-based element adds appeal to the game since gamers are aware of the people they are fighting with in the locality and can physically check out the places they have captured. However, one of the downsides of the location-based feature is that people who live in quiet or boring areas will have issues finding people to play with. The game is definitely worth playing, especially if you want to live a life of crime without getting thrown into prison.
Parallel Kingdom MMO
Parallel Kingdom is location based real-time, multiplayer game that allows you to be part of a parallel universe. Parallel Kingdom is especially designed for people who enjoy exploring different era of kingships. This game will take you to the past where you can slay monsters and complete dozens of quests no matter where you are. The game has about 40 levels; you can chat with other players and trade various objects.
The game will show you mythical creatures that are lurking around your backyard or beasts that pass by you every time you go to work. This interesting game can be downloaded for free and you can play it using Google Maps as well.
Best Augmented Reality Apps
You will find an increasing number of AR apps in the App Store the Play Store that can be used for all kinds of things; education, sharing helpful information or simply for entertainment. Here are a couple of apps that you can enjoy:
AR Basket Ball
What’s the point of AR if you cannot have a little bit of fun. The AR Basketball app will keep you entertained for hours at a time. Us the app to play basketball and shoot through VR hoops. If you prefer football, opt for the Android Kick Ball app instead. All you have to do is point your smart phone camera at your feet and start kicking the VR ball.
Google Goggles is perhaps one of the most useful and innovative AR apps out there. The app was among the first efforts by any developer to utilize AR tech on android. Simply use your phone to scan various objects and Google Search will try to identify what it is.
This app is particularly useful for identifying artworks and landmarks, making it a favorite among tourists or people who enjoy learning the history about everything. Additionally, the app can also be used as a barcode scanner and to translate foreign languages with the help of Google Translate app.
SpecTrek is an awesome ghost hunting game that allows gamers to track and hunt down paranormal beings. Apart from adults, kids also enjoy playing the game. The spooky ghost-hunting game encourages players to roam around the physical environment that has been invaded by ghouls and other paranormal creatures.
The game uses your phone’s camera and GPS to superimpose images into the natural environment. As you progress, the game becomes more difficult as you have shorter amount of time to survey large geographical areas.
Star Walk is quite similar to Sky Map that displays stars over your head. The app is great for young astronomers and star gazers who have not quite memorized the constellations yet and are genuinely curious to see how the sky looks above their heads. The app can be used to find notable stars and constellations.
The app will soon become your go-to star chart at night; parents can use the application to teach their kids astronomy. Users have access to explore over 200,000 celestial bodies and study about various constellations, satellites, planets and stars.
My Brana is an increasingly popular AR app that is used for advertising and promotional purposes. The app allows people to exercise their creative sides by using a variety of animation, graphics, stickers and short videos that people can share with their friends and family.
Use the social network app not only to capture the world around you, but to create a whole new world by yourself. Choose from a variety of free and premium editing options to create stunning photos and videos.
Tattoos can be great way to show off your sense of style or to immortalize something that is very important to you. However, it is imperative you do a lot of thinking and planning prior getting the tattoo as it will remain permanent. Inkhunter is a very cool AR app that allows you to preview what the tattoo might look like on your skin.
Simply draw a marker on your skin and then use your iPhone to point towards it. Inkhunter will automatically create a dynamic preview of the design on your phone with the ability to customize or rotate the design. Users can also select from a range of pre-designed tattoos or upload their own designs. The app makes sure that you never regret your decision of choosing a particular tattoo design.
Augmented Reality VS Virtual Reality
Augmented reality is quite different than virtual reality. VR is a term used to define a computer generated environment that you can interact with. While on the other hand, AR already adds to the reality you would originally see rather than replacing it. With VR, the user is isolated from the real world while being complete immersed in a virtual world.
Where as in AR, the user can touch objects in the real world while still being able to interact with objects in the virtual world. The difference between AR and VR is primarily the level of immersion. VR is based on real world simulations where users interact and explore their surroundings with the help of a head piece and an input device.
But in augmented reality, the user is able to see the real world in addition to the graphical images generated by the tiny computer hence they are not completely immersed in virtual reality. The experience can be created using a smartphone or any other wearable device that has the proper software installed along with a webcam.
AR is widely available in smart phones, particularly iPhone and is used in various apps to perform a variety a functions. Whereas VR is better for playing video games and social networking in a fabricated virtual environment.
The Bottom Line
Augmented reality is way ahead of virtual reality since it offers people a wonderful blend of both worlds. With AR, users can interact with the virtual world without getting too distracted from the real one. AR has dozens of applications and will soon be widely used for communicating, education and training.