What is AR!?

Augmented reality is a digital technology that allows us the place digital assets over the real world. Want to be a White Walker from Game of Thrones? No problem. Want to see what a couch from Ikea looks like in your living room before you ever bust out your credit card? Totally simple with augmented reality as well.

augmented reality example AR Core placing objects on table

To use augmented reality you basically need two things. You need a digital display and you need what we call tractability. The digital display part is pretty straightforward. You need an iPad, a mobile phone or even a pair of augmented reality glasses. This gives us the ability to create the optical illusion like that digital object is actually there in the room with you.

man wearing hololens to fix industrial motor

That other component you need tractability that’s similar to what we use in virtual reality but slightly different. In VR we use trackability to track your motion in space. In AR we use trackability to track surfaces or to track someone’s face or hands for instance. So I want to put that Ikea couch in my living room using AR, I have to make sure that my device can read or track my living room floor so the couch looks proper, its size appropriate, all of that sort of thing. So you need that digital display and you need that trackability. 

augmented reality plane detection

There are two basic ways you can experience augmented reality. The first, mobile. On your iPad, the phone in your pocket, that type of thing. The other way to experience augmented reality is through AR glasses. The Magic Leap is a great example, also the Microsoft Hololens is another amazing piece of hardware. Right now most of the AR experiences you’re going to see our mobile-based. However, in the future, you’re probably going to start seeing a lot more glasses out in the market. They’re currently pretty expensive and a little clunky. However, there’s news that Apple is working on an AR headset of their own…And if we know anything about Apple hardware production they do a darn good job of making bass hardware. So in the next year or two expect to see some pretty cool AR glasses coming from Apple.

So where does this go in the future? Well, there are companies already starting to work on augmented reality-powered contact lenses and something called retinal projection. Using nothing more than a standard pair of wireframe glasses, they can project imagery onto the retina of your eye, creating the illusion that there’s objects floating out in space in front of you. Pretty crazy stuff. 

AR smart glasses

OK, so what about today? You can start using augmented reality for all sorts of stuff. The most popular form right now is entertainment and gaming. For instance, social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are using AR all the time so we can look like our favorite movie star or maybe even see what we look like in the future. 

three examples of facebook AR world filters

Another place we’re seeing a ton of augmented reality use is in the retail and online sales market. Companies like Ikea, Amazon, Overstock even brands like Gucci are starting to use augmented reality to give consumers more information about the products they want to purchase before they ever have to bust out their credit card or leave the comfort of their house.

women holding phone using AR app to view new table

We’re also starting to see AR pop up in the more industrial and military applications on the headset based systems. The military for instance, just signed a huge contract of Microsoft to start putting Hololens’s on our soldiers out in the field. Companies like GE and Boeing are also starting to use this technology to give their engineers and their mechanics a new layer of information while they’re able to still work with their hands. In the next few years, you will start to see augmented reality popping up all over the place. Even today the mobile phone in your pocket or the one you’re using to watch this video is augmented reality ready. 

That’s it for this episode of The Donut Shop. Please leave any comments or questions below. Following along, and as always, stay hungry!

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