Augmented Reality: Then, Now & The Future

Augmented Reality is one of the most exciting technologies currently in development. The possibilities for AR are so vast that it’s really hard to predict where the technology may actually be headed.

The fact that Augmented Reality hasn’t yet become a part of our everyday lives, might lead some to believe that the technology has been coming along slowly, but taking a look at the history of AR shows us that it’s quite the opposite.

To get an idea of the rate at which AR technology has been developing, we’ll first take a look into the past, how it all began and how AR became what it is now.

Augmented Reality – Then (The Past)

1968 It all started in 1968 when American computer scientist, Ivan Sutherland unveiled his idea for a head mounted display. This display only showed very simple computer generated graphics, however, for it’s time it was very impressive, and it was able to kickstart the development of augmented reality which is still in progress today.

1974 – The Videoplace was created in 1974 by American computer artist and researcher Myron Krueger. The Videoplace harnessed projector and video-camera technologies to create an interactive environment where users could interact with projected silhouettes.

1990 – In 1990, the term “Augmented Reality” was officially coined by Tom Caudell, a Boeing researcher. He and his colleague David Mizell created an augmented reality headset that showed schematics for planes, improving the company’s efficiency.

1998 – By 1998, AR had advanced to a level where it had been used in industries such as theatre and the military. 1998 saw AR being used by the NFL to augment markers onto the field during a live game.

2000 – Hirokazu Kato released his ARToolKit in 2000. This open-source development app has brought AR development to the masses, allowing much quicker advancement in the field.

Augmented Reality – Now (The Present)

By now, the AR industry is worth billions. We’ve had very big companies such as Google (Google Glass) and Volkswagen (MARTA app) doing some very impressive things with AR technology.

We’re now seeing AR being used functionally to make our lives easier in such apps as the IKEA Place app and the Google Translate app.

AR has also proven itself in the gaming industry, everyone remembers the craze that Pokémon Go was.

Augmented Reality – The Future

It is predicted that by 2022, the AR industry will be worth over £156 Billion. It is likely that in the future, all of the areas and industries that can possibly benefit from the implementation of AR, will have implemented it in some way.

Here are some examples of how AR could be used in the future:

  • The Travel Industry – For travel and tourism, AR is perfect. If you’re exploring a new place that you’re unfamiliar with, an augmented reality app could augment graphics into your view to provide information such as directions, restaurant reviews, tourist attractions etc.
  • The Medical Industry – The medical industry could benefit hugely from AR technology. It is possible that one day surgeons will wear a visor or glasses with AR technology built in to show where to make incisions, how big they should be etc.
  • The Retail Industry – AR will likely be a widespread technology within the retail industries. You could have an AR system in place to show you how a certain outfit will look on you, or an app to tell you how something will look in your house (such as IKEA Place).
  • Real Estate – Maybe you’re looking at buying a new house, but it isn’t finished yet, so how can you be sure? Augmented reality could be extremely useful here. If you could take a virtual tour of the house and get an idea of how it’s going to look when it’s finished, it would really help you come to a much quicker and better decision.

Conclusion

Only when you reflect on the development of augmented reality technology, can you get a good idea of just how far it has actually come. However, to see what AR is really capable of, we may be waiting until the early 2020’s.

It’s still exciting though to see how it’s already being implemented, many companies want to get in before the boom of this expansive technology, and so for now we get to see new AR ideas becoming a reality on a constant basis.

Contact Appoly for Augmented Reality Development Services

If you’re looking to get in before the boom and have an augmented reality application developed for yourself or your business, get in touch and lets discuss your AR project. We’re always happy to listen to your ideas and to discuss how we can make them a reality.

You can contact Appoly by email or phone, alternatively, you can fill out the contact form on our contact page.

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Introducing Where’s my cAR? iOS/Android Mobile Application

During our research and development programme, we’ve been doing a lot of work and experiments using AR, or Augmented Reality.

We’ve produced various concepts, looking at some common use-cases for the technology. Typically these show the capabilities of rendering virtual objects in a real-life scene and require the app to interpret the environment and accurately place the various objects in it.

A challenge had been set. Would it be possible to place an object in Augmented Reality without relying on the camera to survey the surroundings?

Where’s my cAR?

Where’s my cAR? is a free to download mobile application for compatible iOS and Android Devices that allow you to find the location of your car using Augmented Reality (AR), using geocoded data from your device’s location.

Technical Challenges

As Augmented Reality technology is still in its infancy, ARCore (Androids AR engine) doesn’t have an easy way of representing location data in AR. So as part of this process, we developed the ARCore-Location library to help us (and any other Android developers) to create GPS location-based AR experiences. Luckily, iOS already has a wonderful library available from ProjectDent.

Another challenge is how to find out where somebody has parked their car. Whilst both platforms are able to tell us whether the user is walking, running, driving or standing – only Android allows you to do so whilst the app is not being used. Therefore in the Android version, we’re able to automatically detect when you’ve disembarked from a moving vehicle and set that as the location. At the time of writing, on the iOS version, this is something that can only be done manually.

Additionally, mobile locations services can be quite temperamental. The location updates being given to apps vary wildly in accuracy, meaning that sometimes it might think you’re several hundred metres away from where you really are. Mobile compasses are also only accurate to approximately 15 degrees, and that’s assuming your compass is properly calibrated and you’re not close to any electronics or large machinery! This can be problematic when trying to get an accurate bearing on your current position and the position of your car – giving some mixed results.

Download it and give it a try, we would love to have your feedback.

You can download the app on to your device from the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

Contact Appoly for AR Consultancy & Mobile App Development Services

We hope that you have found this article interesting and informative. We provide augmented reality development services if you’d like to book a consultation with us to further explore your options to start professional development on your AR project, get in touch with us and we can discuss your needs and see what we can do for you.

 

 

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ARCore Location – Android Studio

During our Research & Development sessions, an area of recent focus has been AR (Augmented Reality). If you’re unfamiliar with AR then have a short read of this to see how it could positively impact your business.

Predominantly our research was focussed around the newly released ARKit on iOS. During that time, Google announced their AR platform – ARCore. We started exploring the capabilities of each platform. Some of our experiments were based on locating objects in the real world using AR. One of the things we found was lacking in ARCore was the ability to use real world coordinates in the AR space. Whereas Apple with ARkit has integrations with core-location, such as ProjectDent, at the time of writing, there’s no equivalent projects for ARCore (Android).

This is where ARCore-Location comes in. We’ve developed a handy toolkit for developers to render just about anything at a GPS coordinate in AR, with just a few lines of code. It comes packaged with two example renderers – one to render an annotation, as can be seen in the image to the right, and one to render an image.

We’ve shown how you can create and use your own renderers in our example, showing a 3D object rendered at GPS coordinates.

Several challenges are presented when attempting to build this technology. One of which is that mobile phone compasses only have an accuracy of about 15 degrees, even when calibrated. For most applications this is adequate, but when trying to superimpose markers over the real world it can be very problematic. This is a problem we haven’t resolved, and welcome your ideas on how best to do so! You can create an issue request, or if you’d like to directly contribute, you can make a pull request with your improvements.

The internal bearing of true north used by ARCorelocation can be adjusted using:

locationScene.setBearingAdjustment( locationScene.getBearingAdjustment() - 1 );

The example project makes use of this when tapping the edges of the screen, so the user can manually adjust the bearing for higher accuracy.

The library works by creating Anchors in the AR scene. ARCore seems to struggle with Anchors that are further away than 100m, so for optimal performance, ARCorelocation caps the distance of the actual object/marker in Anchor terms to 50 metres away. Anchors are re-drawn into the scene on a loop every 8 seconds, which means that if the device is travelling quickly, the user may be able to catch up with a marker which is supposed to be distant. This could be improved by detecting travelling within AR or with location data, and updating the Anchors after a distance threshold is reached.

Find the repository on Github: https://github.com/appoly/ARCore-Location/tree/legacy

Moving to Sceneform? Find the updated Sceneform repository here: https://github.com/appoly/ARCore-Location

Not a developer?

We’d love to help you with anything AR. Feel free to contact us, or read about what it is and how it could help your business.

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What is Augmented Reality & How Could it be Used in Business?

Image of a Phone Using Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is, without doubt, one of the more exciting technologies of the future. Over the coming years, we are likely to see it appear in many different forms that help with real use cases in a vast amount of areas, whether it’s educational institutions, construction, manufacturing, sports, the medical industry or even just at home in your living room. You can check out five examples of AR that really impressed the Appoly development team.

When Apple released iOS 11 back in September 2017 with ARKit it gave developers access to new tools and capabilities in millions of handsets. Google followed suit with its interpretation with ARCore, which allows select Android handsets to have AR capabilities.

Why then, is it so misunderstood?

 

The Difference Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

One of the main areas of confusion regarding augmented reality is the association it is often given to virtual reality. There is, however, a distinct difference between the two. Virtual reality places you in a completely virtual environment using screens, headsets, bodysuits etc. This is a different function to AR, which contains a mixture of your real-world environment and virtual objects.

To summarise:

Virtual RealityCompletely virtual environment.

Augmented RealityVirtual objects in a real-world environment.

 

How Does Augmented Reality Work?

In the case of a mobile application, it uses the cameras of the device to map out an environment. A key part is recognising where the walls and floor are, establishing the basic geometry of the space.

There are already many different systems and creative ways for augmented reality to work. Let’s explore a few of them:

  • Projectors – One of the most famous examples of augmented reality being used in media would have to be the Princess Leia hologram in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While augmented reality and hologram technology aren’t completely the same, this example does give a good idea of what projection AR is like. Projector based AR is a very good option due to the fact that it cuts out the need for screens and can be 3D.

 

  • Marker AR – Marker AR uses a marker-based system, so you place markers such as dots, an image or a QR code onto the location that you’d like your virtual object to appear on and using a camera or image recognition the AR software will detect these markers and know where to place the virtual object.

 

  • Markerless AR – Markerless AR is one of the most commonly implemented forms of augmented reality, this is because it uses location sensors like as GPS and accelerometers, such as the ones built into most smartphones in order to detect your location and place the virtual object using that information.

 

  • Superimposed Augmented Reality – Superimposition AR is another fairly common form of AR which can partially or completely alter a real-world view with one that is partially superimposed (such as individual items added to the real view) or completely superimposed, where the whole image is a superimposed version of your real-world view.

 

How Could Augmented Reality be Used in the Real-World?

As AR technology advances further, it is sure to be picked up for some very interesting real-world uses. There are many industries that could stand to benefit from the advancement of this impressive technology in various ways.

A few examples of industries that could benefit from augmented reality technology are:

  • The Medical Industry – Augmented reality technology could be a great tool in training medical staff without putting any patients at risk, this is a great use of the technology since AR objects are fully interactive and the circumstances are easily changed in order to test medical students in various situations.

 

  • The Furniture Industry – For furniture companies and other home improvement companies alike, augmented reality is a great idea. Customers will be able to augment virtual furniture into their homes and choose which pieces they’d like to buy based on how it looks when augmented into their desired space.

 

  • Educational Institutions – The ways in which augmented reality technology could help in education are vast. Whether the technology is used to teach art, science, graphic design, it is clear to see how educational institutes could benefit in numerous ways from AR technology.

 

Contact Appoly for Augmented Reality Development

At Appoly we offer augmented reality software development services, if you’re looking to be a step ahead of the game with your business’ technology and processes, get in touch and we can discuss your potential augmented reality project.

 

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Our Favourite Augmented Reality Concepts

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called computer-mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. Augmented reality enhances one’s current perception of reality, whereas in contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

Since Apple and Google announced ARKit and ARCore respectively, developers around the world have been creating some interesting concepts. These applications can create profound experiences and are available to anyone with a compatible Android or Apple smartphone. Here are a few that have really caught our eye:

AR Pets

We remember the days of the Tamagotchi, now with the developer tools available AR pets are now a possibility.

Location-based AR Experiences

We think that this was an ingenious way to utilize AR to provide a real-life helpful tool to find friends or objects in dense populations.

Health and Safety 

An excellent use to provide a unique perspective for health and safety training.

Consumer Experiences

This we think will be one of the biggest adaptations for AR. Giving user the ability to see how potential purchases look in their chosen environment before purchasing

Ikea has released their AR furniture application ‘Place’ the iOS App Store. It’s worth checking it out and having a play.

 

Contact Appoly for Augmented Reality Development

We provide augmented reality design and development for all AR project requirements, both consumer and business augmented reality applications. If you’re in need of an AR app or just have an idea for a project you wish to discuss, please contact us to arrange a consultancy.

Call us on 01926 520 052 or email us at hello@appoly.co.uk.

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