What is Augmented Reality?

August 12, 2016

Where do you work???

Blank stares, confused looks, and raised eyebrows. All typical responses to me when I tell people I work at an Augmented Reality company. Usually followed by, “What’s that?”

As a matter of fact, AR can mean many things. However, fundamentally Augmented Reality (AR) is the real world, overlaid with or otherwise changed by digital content. Rudimentary AR applications use three steps to achieve an augmented representation of a user’s surroundings:

Step 1 – Capture

First, the device the AR App is running on is made aware of the real world. Usually using the device’s camera. It can also use GPS or other internal device sensors like gyroscopes or microphones.

Step 2 – Identify

Second, the device recognizes a feature in the area. Most commonly it’s a machine-trackable image, like a QR code, or a fiduciary marker.

Step 3 – Visualize

Finally, once the camera position is established in relationship to the environment. The software displays digital content on an image plane. Thereby, augmenting the user’s view of the environment.

What youAR Does

Hence, youAR is working on advanced techniques in computer vision (CV) and object recognition in order to make this process simple. To clarify, this technology allows AR apps to become reactive to the world around them. Better CV tech allows users to adjust and manipulate digital content on the fly. In turn, that content will naturally respond to the real environment surrounding it.

Future Implications

Additionally, the potential for this technology is huge and has many different paths. In fact, it is so large that it has created an oncoming wave of AR applications. These applications owe their existence to the ubiquity of smartphones and other mobile devices. Capturing, identifying, and visualizing can all be done by a smartphone’s camera, sensors, wireless network access, and screen.

What’s more is, new AR-specific devices like wearable computers and 3-D projectors are being developed every day and will find many uses in AR space. The time for augmented reality to truly spread its wings and take off is nearly here.

In the meantime, I’ll  have to settle for talking about Pokemon Go the next time someone asks me what it is I do for a living (whew!).