Augmented Reality - What is it? How does it work? Where is it taking us?

Designing Digitally


Augmented Reality. What is it? How does it work? Where is it taking us?

John here,  Interactive Media Designer for Designing Digitally, Inc. Over the past several months, we have been developing augmented reality applications for clients. With this new and exciting technology we have been giving our clients' users a fresh new experience and a whole new way to interact with both the virtual world and the real world. I wanted to take some time out to share this amazing technology our team is working with.

Great! What is Augmented Reality again?

Augmented reality, at a very basic level, turns the real world into a canvas in which developers can construct user experiences. It makes the world we live in a playground for virtual sights and sounds. It gives us the opportunity to deliver information and entertainment to the user with real world context. To place augmented reality into a more technical light, it allows us to take visual information and map it directly to objects within real life footage. What makes augmented reality so ground breaking is that all of this tracking happens in real time. Have you ever driven by a restaurant and wondered what time it closes? Augmented reality could look at that restaurants logo along with GPS information and display a virtual billboard over the restaurant with the information you need.  It may sound like science fiction but it is already being set in motion.

I think I follow. How can I use Augmented reality right now?

Although augmented reality is still in its infancy, when you look at the grand scheme of things it can still be a valuable tool in multiple fields and at various levels. Everything from simple greeting cards to educational tools to branding and marketing tools can effectively incorporate augmented reality. The simplest examples of augmented reality are novelties and publicity gimmicks. For instance, you could send someone a birthday card. When they show the card to their computer's webcam, a 3-D birthday cake would grow out of the card. A more serious example is low cost hands on virtual training. An auto mechanic could use physical tools to work on virtual car. A surgeon could perform virtual practice surgery from his computer while still using his hands.  These are all possible with technology available today, but as hardware becomes faster, smaller, and more portable, applications such as these become even more cost effective and feasible.

Amazing! Where is this going to go in the future?

As the technology develops, you will see augmented reality mini apps more and more often in day to day life. Real time data will be streamed to us about everything we see, smell, hear and touch. We will be able to interact with this data in order to make more informed decisions. Heads up displays will show us detailed history on cars and homes for sale as we pass them on the streets. We at Designing Digitally, Inc. are excited to be at the forefront of this amazing emergent technology.   Before you know it the virtual will become real and the real will become virtual. We hope to help blur these lines.

Please print the PDF listed in the link below then open the demo, also listed below. (Note: to view this demo you must have a webcam)

Step 1 - Click here to open the marker PDF you need to print


Step 2 - Click this link to activate the Augmented Reality and your webcam.