What is augmented reality and how does it work?

The augmented reality has been the talk of the town lately especially after the introduction of Pokemon Go and Snapchat filters. I am sure it is amusing to chase Pikachu down the local alley and get a bunny nose on top of your nose but did you ever care to know that how does this technology work? Well, augmented reality is a technology that runs the environment around you into a digital interface by placing virtual or artificial objects in the real world, in real time. It basically uses software to superimpose graphics on the image you see.

The software makes use of a combination of electronic devices like smartphone camera, accelerometer, location data and compass to determine the position in the real world. So, when you aim the camera of your tablet or phone at something, the information is encoded and is sent to mobile or computer device. These devices immediately decode the information and overlay the things with an image so that viewers can view the created look in the real world.

Augmented reality does not replace the real world with simulated one like virtual reality does. It gives a real view of a physical world whose elements are augmented by computer-generated inputs like sound, video, graphics or GPS. After a huge success of virtual reality in 2016, augmented reality has stepped up to shine in 2017. Many brands used virtual reality in their offerings or marketing tricks last year but now they are viewing the potential of AR technology to tap and engage the modern customers.

Augmented reality technology works in mainly 3 ways: AR browsers, AR viewers and AR games

AR browsers: It enriches your camera display with a lot of information nearby you. For example, Wikitude, an AR browser app is of great use every time you step into a new place. While using your smartphone camera, this app builds an AR world filled with details and information about your vicinity. It provides all geographically relevant information nearby that area which you may otherwise look for on Google. With AR browsers even the most unfamiliar areas become familiar to us and we can enjoy our trip better.

AR viewer: It allows users to place life-size 3D models in the environment with or without the use of trackers in real-time. For example, snapshot showroom app allows you to see how the furniture of your choice will look in your house. With this app, you simply need to take a photo of the room you want to furnish and then place your selected furniture in that frame to see the look of the room. You can also resize and reposition the furniture, try different colour combinations to see which furnishing scheme looks better and can do this n number of times till you finally feel satisfied with the furniture you choose.

AR games: This brings immersive gaming experience by utilising your actual surroundings. You all must have heard of Pokemon Go. It is a recent game which was built on this technology. In this game, players use the mobile device’s GPS capability to locate and capture the Pokemon, which appears on the screen as if it is there in the same real world location as the player is. The game is a huge success between the masses and credit goes to this technology which has actually given an interesting twist to our lifestyles.