On Monday, Microsoft was given a patent on ‘augmented reality’ (AR) glasses that would enhance sports and other live events with streams of information beamed directly in front of the user — even including action replays and lyrics of songs. Google’s Glass Project is already active in this sphere. But what is AR, and will it be the next digital battlefield? We take a look.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
What are the applications of AR?
AR can be used to aid archaeological research, by augmenting archaeological features onto the modern landscape, enabling archaeologists to formulate conclusions about site placement and configuration
AR can aid in visualizing building projects. Computer generated images of a structure can be superimposed into a real life local view of a property before the physical building is constructed there.
AR can enhance product previews such as allowing a customer to view what’s inside a product’s packaging without opening it. AR can also be used as an aid in selecting products from a catalog or through a kiosk. Scanned images of products can activate views of additional content such as customization options and additional images of the product in its use.
Augmented reality applications can complement a standard curriculum. Text, graphics, video and audio can be superimposed into a student’s real time environment. Textbooks, flashcards and other educational reading material can contain embedded “markers” that, when scanned by an AR device, produce supplementary information to the student rendered in a multimedia format.
Augmented Reality can provide the surgeon with information, which are otherwise hidden, such as showing the heartbeat rate, the blood pressure, the state of the patient’s organ, etc. In particular AR can be used to let the doctor look inside the patient by combining one source of images such as as a X-ray with another such as video.
In combat, AR can serve as a networked communication system that renders useful battlefield data onto a soldier’s goggles in real time. From the soldier’s viewpoint, people and various objects can be marked with special indicators to warn of potential dangers.
AR can augment the effectiveness of navigation devices. Information can be displayed on an automobile’s windshield indicating directions, weather, terrain, road conditions and traffic information.
Sports & Entertainment
AR has become common in sports telecasting. Sports and entertainment venues are provided with see-trough and overlay augmentation through tracked camera feeds for enhanced viewing by the audience.
Tourism and Sightseeing
Augmented Reality applications can enhance a user’s experience when traveling by providing real time informational displays regarding a location and it’s features, including comments made by previous visitors of the site.
AR systems can interpret foreign text on signs and menus and, in a user’s augmented view, re-display the text in the user’s language.