In the age of the Internet developing rapidly, technologies always bring surprises to attract the public attention.From the very beginning, human was seeking to improve the environment they live in. The human exploration for better living environment does not stop. The emergence of the Internet allows the ideas to be presented in the digital world and spread to the worldwide promptly. Augmented Reality (AR) is an enhanced version of reality in which present an interactive experience between the objects in the reality enhanced by the computer-generated perceptual information and the real world. It basically adds on digital information to the world that users can interact with them as other objects in the physical world (Craig, 2013)[i]. It sometimes includes multiple sensory modality like visual, auditory, haptic, or even olfactory. The invention of such technology became more and more common in our daily life and influencing the interactions between users in the digital world and the actual world.It appeared in most of industry and promote the growth of the society. The impact of technology permeates every aspect of life continuously and unconsciously.
Brief History of AR
Basically, Augmented Reality is computer-generated information overlap with the physical world. Today, it’s easy for us to go back to find out the origin of the example that informational objects layered on the top of the physical world.
Augmented Reality was first appeared in the 1960s. Ivan Sutherland was the pioneer of the field which eventually turn into both AR and VR (Schmalstieg & Höllerer, 2016)[i]. He introduced the primary description of the AR which is the visual displays which can make solid object transparent (Sutherland, 1965). In the 1970s and 1980s, there were many concepts of the interaction between human and the computer-generated information. Hence, in the late 1980s and 1990s, AR became the independent research field for further study. In 1993, the precursor of handheld AR was created by Fitzmaurice. Itconsisted of a liquid-crystal display (LCD) screen which shows the video output of graphical workstation of the time and tracked by a magnetic tracking device. The system was able to show contextual information to the users. The emergence of wearable computing and handheld AR displays contributed to the primary AR system to improve the system continuously. After 2000, the mobile communication industry had a rapid development. The developers of AR started to bring the AR system into the mobile communications industry.
Until 2008, the first usable tracking system was introduced to the smartphones successfully. Today, the AR system is available to many software platforms. Various depth sensors, camera projectors, and 3D technologies are important componenets of the AR system. In recent year, as the AR system allows virtual contents to be present in the traditional collaboration mode, combines with various software platforms to improve users’ experience, and allow the users to track in unknown environments, it became an unignorable componenet in modern medium.
The impact of AR
Augmented Reality ovelapped with various fields and industries today, it brought convenience to these industries and made some contributions to these industries. Augmented Reality could be applied to medial data visualization, musical education and music therapy, and many other aspects (Hughes, 2014)[i]. Here are some examples of the application of AR in the medical industry. Traditionally, physicisians see the medical data from the monitor. They have to analyze the structure which shown on the screen in order to understand the illness of the patients.
However, the application of AR technology provided a better visualization of patient’s information for the physicians so they can understand the relevant information about the patients and provide more accurate treatments to the patients during the operation.
The application of AR not only in professional fields like medical, it also applied in our daily life. In the past, when children want to learn to play the instruments, they need face-to-face lessons or online lessons. However, by now, they can learn through the AR technology. How is this possible? Just take a look in the following video!
As Augmented Reality became more and more common in our life, it gradually applied to more fields and industries. Traditionally, we receive information by just looking at the texts or images, and it’s hard to response to these information. By using the reality technologies, the traditional online communications and activities are able to be more sensable and the users could have a more realistic feeling. Reality technologies hide the physical distance between people and allow face-to-face interation wherever users located. (Click to view more about reality technologies in communication!)
The benefits and limitations of AR
Technologies are chaning and improving day by day. It brought convinents to our daliy communication. Like the examples I mentioned before, realtiy technologies are not only benefit those professional fields, but also brings convenience to many aspects of life.
One of the main benefits is that the Augmented Reality technology provided a real time overview of particular envirnoment (King & Hamilton, 2009)[i]. It would change the commercial model thoroughtly. It could provide users the up to date information about that specific environment. In the near future, users are able to try on clothes and to check if the furnitures suit for the design of their houses.
Augmented Reality technology could also provide additional information to the users. These information will be shown while the users using the AR technology. It include information to raise the situational awareness and some task details (King & Hamilton, 2009). AR technology could create scenes that might not able to create in the physical world. Organizations are able to incorporate enviornomets that are too costly to create by using the AR technology. In addition, training through the reality technologies increase the safety level. Moreover, the reality technologies would increase the joy in learning process. The immersion model could also provide practical experience rather than theory. Imagine the medical student in the firtst surgery, they might feel nervous and might lead to wrong decision. However, if they have the chance to try it by the reality technologies, it could be the preparation of the surgery,medical students can improve from the potential mistakes and avoid the similar mistakes in the actual operations.
On the other hands, the wide application of reality technologies also conceal some problems. The ethical problems arised from the reality technologies should not be ignored. The law is hard to define the exact broders of the reality technologies. Moreover, the reality technologies provided the virtual products to overlap with the physical world. It might be difficult to distinguish the products and experiences in the reality and the virtual world. Lastly, the safety in the process of using reality technologies also worth to notice. There are already exist cases about the technologies cause injuries or death to their users. The developers are responsible to care about the potential problems to the users.
AR in my life
For myself, the first time I‘ve accessed to the Augmente Reality technology was the game ‘Pokemon go’ on the smartphone. The game was very popular at that time. It was a game that use the AR and the GPS on mobile devices to locate, capture, and train the virtual creations – pokemon to battle with other players’ virtual creations.
The prevail of the ‘pokemon go’ allow lots of the users to first time experience the reality technologies in real life. In the game, the users can catch pokemon on the road or in the bathroom. It’s a game not limited by time and space. The game also motivted the users to walk arounf to compete with friends or strangers. In the age of rapid development of technologies, people can do many things by just tap on the smartphone or other electronic devices. It reduced the time to take a breath to walk around. The existence of the game enorageed me to walk out to capture and hatch my pokemon.
The reality technologies also allowed me to watch live shows in my home. By using reality technologies, users don’t need to worry if they miss their favorite shows. The reality technologies can give a sense of imersive to the users.
The emergency of reality technologies influencing our life to a large extent and expanding its influence continuously. It has brought vast benefits to our daily life. By interlacing the digital world with the real life, users are able to learn, work, or play in any environment at any time. It could also provide information to increase the situational awareness to the users which would promote the understanding of specific experience. Nevertheless, there are also exist some issues in the process of using the reality technologies. Ethical problems and the level of safety are worth the attention in the future development of the technology. The reality technologies would definitely give a better experience in working, learning, and playing to the society in the near future.
[i] Craig, A. (2013). Understanding augmented reality [recurso] (pp. 1-37). Paises Bajos: Morgan Kaufmann.
[i] Schmalstieg, D., & Höllerer, T. (2016). Augmented reality. Boston [etc.]: Addison-Wesley.
[i] Hughes, R. (2014). Augmented reality (pp. 48-62).
[i] King, R., & Hamilton, D. (2009). Augmented virtualised reality–Applications and benefits in remote handling for fusion. Fusion Engineering And Design, 84(2-6), 1055-1057. doi: 10.1016/j.fusengdes.2009.02.031