Enriching city life with the AR app
Nowadays, watching interactive stories, high-quality internet video content, or countless filters that we can put on our faces in real-time has become our everyday life. When it comes to delighting our senses, technology is only gaining momentum and will offer us more and more as hardware capabilities evolve. What is AR (augmented reality), how does it differ from VR and what can we expect from this technology in the near future? Let’s get started!
What is AR anyway? Augmented Reality is a solution based not on creating a virtual world that we can enter by putting on glasses (Virtual Reality focuses on this), but on expanding the real world by putting in content with which we can interact. In practice, it is often based on placing specific elements on our phone screens in specific places. You can see an example in the image below.
History of AR
Augmented reality is nothing new. The first system that somewhat used it was born back in 1968 and was created by Ivan Sutherland of the University of Utah and his student Bob Sproull. It looked like this:
Although it may seem that this device is more reminiscent of the torture machine from the popular television series called “Saw”, for those years the invention was incredibly innovative. However, as it often happens with inventions, a lot of time had to pass, and the technology had to develop considerably, to get the mass public interested in it. AR was also greatly improved by the military with the help of skills such as military pilots.
The term Augmented Reality was first used in 1990 by Tom Caudell, working at Boeing at the time, who along with David Mizell created a system that displayed aircraft wiring instructions.
AR in action
The first commercial use of augmented reality can be seen in a BMW commercial that allowed real-time manipulation of the BMW Z4 model.
BMW’s AR innovation was followed by Coca-Cola and National Geographic, among others, allowing people to “play” with virtual pets.
One of the most colorful and commercialized examples of the use of augmented technology is the game Pokemon Go, which due to this innovative approach, was successful on such a large scale. The game involves moving around in real life, finding Pokemons, and competing between players. The statistics speak for themselves – in 2020, the game generated over $1.23 billion in revenue and had over 200 million active players.
While it might seem that AR is used mainly for entertainment and fun in the modern world, this myth is solely due to the popularity of the technology in the industry and the low risk in its use. There is less risk in a mobile game than in the use of AR during surgery, for example. Augmented reality technology has applications in other fields such as medicine, construction, or security. However, due to its immaturity, it is not yet used in them on such a large scale.
Augmented reality and city life?
In using augmented reality in cities, the only limit is our imagination. The first example is AR in the Google maps application. In addition to the standard application with a 2D top view, we can turn on a mode where we are informed about the direction of the road using the camera, buildings are highlighted, and when we approach a pedestrian crossing – the application will tell us to put the phone aside and focus on the road.
Another example is grocery shopping, which with the help of augmented reality, can become much more efficient and enjoyable. Imagine having no idea for tonight’s dinner – you can choose a recipe, and the application highlights the ingredients needed to prepare the meal on the screen. It will do this by taking extra care of the diet you are currently following and choosing the best promotions.
The use of AR goes beyond mere daily routines. It is only in the realm of creativity that we can see its brimming colors. With AR technology, promoted products can become part of the urban space, as was the case in Nike’s advertisement in Japan.
Now imagine that you see flying dragons on the street of your city, an exhibition of your favorite artist, or you can follow a trail from a couple of hundred years ago, and what’s more – everyone can see something different, enrich their reality with what they feel like at the moment.