Augmented Reality – Virtualization At Its Best

Remember the 1988 semi-animated movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit ? The first movie that made the idea of combining fully rendered animated characters interacting with live, real world objects possible ? Yes, this masterpiece by Walt Disney was first of its kind to bring imaginary characters and real world in the same frame.

This movie had historical significance as it laid out the path for Golden Age of American animation – spearheading the modern American animation and the Disney Renaissance.

The first look of Google’s AR Core demonstration video made me think of this ‘reality mix‘ of the 3-decades old animation blockbuster. Although Augmented Reality is at a different technology level, I couldn’t resist myself to find the resemblance with it! Probably because it amazes me the same way 🙂

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality is a technology that augments the real visible world with computer-generated, animated objects in real time.

It is similar yet different to the virtual reality. Both uses virtualization technique. However, in virtual reality you enter into the virtual world, but in AR, you engage with virtual objects in real world. The most familiar and widespread instance of augmented reality (AR) is the gaming app that put this technology into people’s hands all over the world was, Pokemon Go.

AR gives us a new way to perceive the real world around us. It looks at the real world through the lenses of smart devices and projects image on its screen or extended screens with extra information added onto it.  Take a look at the following magical representation of AR –

 Why Augmented Reality is Important?

Augmented reality is nothing like technology of the past. It is the future for marketers. Just imagine being able to see how a couch would fit in your living room before actually buying it, or being able to see which sunglasses suit your face without physically trying anything on, or even seeing a 3D model of your dream home before submitting the contract to your builder. There is a huge commercial value to AR in engaging with customers like never before.

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The AR industry is currently valued at over $600 billion. Retail giants like Lego and Ikea have boosted sales figures by integrating AR into their marketing. L’Oreal Professional offers salons a similar experience in which salon owners can see how a 3D model of a merchandise display will fit into their space.

Not only in commercials, even in the fields of education, science, medical and research AR has potential to grow. Smart classrooms, smart board have already gained popularity and success in many educational institutes. There is a vast opportunity and open market to grab. It is only evident that we will live in an AR enabled future very soon. Now it is to be seen who utilizes this opportunity first and how.

The Race To ‘Augment’ The Reality

Technology giants like Google and Apple are already into the game. Google’s Project Tango was the first AR initiative by it, launched in 2014. It loaded smartphones with custom sensors making it capable of comprehending the surroundings and drawing animated objects on the device’s screen when seen from the camera.

Tango lets you see more of your world. Just hold up your phone and watch as virtual objects and information appear on top of your surroundings. No matter where you are, there’s always a richer, deeper experience to engage with – Tango, Google

However, Tango was not a big success mainly due to the hardware dependency. Only a couple of devices were Tango enabled. Google’s solution to that is its new SDK, called “AR Core” which brings most of that functionality to regular Android phones through the magic of software.

Google’s ARCore: Google aims to bring augmented reality capabilities to one billion smartphone users by end of 2017. ARCore is now in its preview stage. The SDK will be available to smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat and above. ARCore will make use of the sensors in your smartphone to determine both the position and orientation (pose) of the phone as it moves, detect horizontal surfaces, detect light source and shadow orientation – to make the virtual object more realistic.

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Apple’s ARKit: In the month of June, Apple unveiled its own augmented reality platform, ARKit, at WWDC developers’ conference – taking its first steps into the world of virtual reality. With ARKit platform developers could create AR enabled apps that uses the built-in camera, processors and motion sensors of apple devices.

iOS 11 introduces ARKit, a new framework that allows you to easily create unparalleled augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad. By blending digital objects and information with the environment around you, ARKit takes apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways

ARKit uses Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to accurately track the world around it. VIO fuses camera sensor data with CoreMotion data. These two inputs allow the device to sense how it moves within a room with a high degree of accuracy, and without any additional calibration. ARKit runs on the Apple A9 and A10 processors.

Journey To The ‘wonderland’ Has Just Began

Technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality are already shaping the future as we know it. From commercials to education, from science to computer gaming – it has already shown its promise to be the face of human-computer interactions in future. The portal to Alice’s wonderland has been unveiled and we are all welcomed in the world of ‘Augmented Reality’.

Hope you liked my post. Sound off your thoughts on this exiting technology in the comments below. Please feel free to like/share.

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