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What Is Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)?

Umesh Solanki|7/7/2023, UTC|12 MIN READ|
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Introduction  

Two cutting-edge technologies, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), are revolutionizing the way we interact with our surroundings. While VR technology immerses viewers in a wholly virtual environment, AR technology places digital content in the real world. Gaming, education, and entertainment are just a few of the industries where AR and VR can be used to improve the user experience. The potential of AR and VR technologies to completely transform how people perceive the world is enormous, and the possibilities are only now starting to be investigated.  

What is Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented reality (AR), which incorporates digital visual elements, music, or other sensory signals, produces a better representation of the real world that is delivered through technology. Businesses specifically engaged in mobile computing, gaming, simulation, industrial training, and business applications are noticing a growing trend in this direction.  

One of the main objectives of augmented reality, in the era of data gathering and analysis, aims to highlight certain realities, broaden our understanding of those facts, and offer enlightening and comprehensible knowledge that may be applied in real-world situations. Big data of this kind can, among other things, assist businesses in making decisions and gaining knowledge about customer purchasing patterns.  

What is AR (Augmented Reality)

I believe that all of you are fans of sci-fi films in which we see intelligent AI and computers, like Jarvis in the Iron Man movie, which is nothing more than AR technology that enables us to see integrated visual components with the real world and, if we talk about more advanced technology, that we can control with our hands and voices.  

How Augmented Reality Works? 

Augmented reality functionsDigital information is superimposed over a photographically captured natural world in augmented reality. It requires the following elements to function:   

Depth-sensing camera:  
 Depth Sensing Camera

To add visual details to an existing object or location, you require a camera. The aforementioned camera ought to be able to determine the subject's proximity to it and its angle. For this, a depth-sensing camera is employed, which instantly recognizes the presence of any item nearby and calculates the distance to it.  

Registration tools:  

These are devices, like motion sensors and accelerometers, that give computers the ability to specify the area in which they would superimpose or insert sensory data or things that should be present around the AR user.  

Computer vision:  

While you use the camera, it captures photos from the outside world for machine learning (ML) algorithm interpretation and referencing. For instance, when you train a camera's focus on a box, it makes use of the pixels from that image as a guide to identify items that have a similar appearance. The program would attempt to remember this information the next time you took a picture of another box to determine whether the object is a box.  

To provide the user with an immersive and realistic AR experience, the ML algorithm also mixes all pieces of information and adds a creative touch to them. More than that computer vision is used for image processing and face recognition software is used for online attendance and tracking purposes for investigation.  

Output device:

This refers to the display device where users can view the resulting image or video, such as a phone or computer monitor or headset which gives you a more realistic experience.    

What are the different types of augmented reality (AR)?  

Many different types of AR are proper for multiple types of tasks but mainly two types.  

1. Marker-based AR:  

Marker based AR

The camera's physical images (markers) trigger software applications that overlay digital content on top of them. A marker could be something tangible or something visual, such as a logo, a poster, or a QR code. The business card serves as a marker for the augmented reality application, which shows more digital content when it comes into touch with the card.   

In markerless AR content, the user can choose where to put digital objects in the real world without relying on markers or other physical points. This kind of augmented reality relies on the camera, GPS, compass, and many other sensors to gather data about the environment.  

Markerless AR has a few other types: 

a. Superimposition-based  

With superimposition-based AR, an original view of an object is partially or entirely replaced with an augmented view of the same object. Let's say we discover a historical site that has been damaged for some reason. This technology will let us visualize how the site appeared at the time it was created, making history more engaging for kids to learn.  

The architect will also benefit from knowing how the original structure would look after being recreated.  

b. Projection-based  

This sort of augmented reality (AR) uses a mix of projectors and vision sensors to display step-by-step interactive images in any work area without the need for any display devices. Let me provide you with an excellent example of this technology. You may be familiar with the laser keyboard, which projects keys onto a surface so that you may type from it.  

c. Location-based  

Location Based AR

This AR type uses Geo location to trigger the AR experience, unlike typical marker-based AR features like image tracking and object tracking. With a smart device, users can scan geographical areas to view or interact with various types of content: 3D augmentations, video, text, audio, links, and more.    

Let me give you a simple example. You all might have used this before but didn't know what technology behind it, have you heard about Pokemon Go? It's a game that uses this technology to put digital characters in the real world or even you can interact with that character using devices.  

Take yet another illustration. Before becoming more widely available in August 2019, Google Maps AR navigation was initially demonstrated at Google I/O in 2018. It then received a tease in early 2019.    

What are some use cases and applications of AR?   

Defense & Military 

How augmented reality will contribute to preparing our soldiers for any combat scenario. National armies were using their kinds of augmented reality technology to train and command their troops even before Snapchat and Facebook started providing filters for your photos and AR apps proliferated.    

In the future, it will be possible to create surroundings where our soldiers can train as hard as they can in actual combat situations without losing any lives. As we all know, many of our soldiers lose their lives while undergoing flight and on-ground combat training due to environmental changes or for other reasons. With the use of this technology, the Indian army would be able to create a future suit with a host of cutting-edge features, including augmented reality.  

AR implication in Defense & Military

By putting soldiers in more cognitively stimulating situations without putting them in danger, synthetic training environments aid in the development of training experiences for soldiers in a more immersive manner.  

Gaming  

Gaming has improved in this generation as a result of technological advancements that encourage player interaction. Pokemon GO is the infamous augmented reality game to date. Numerous other games incorporate AR technology, such as racing games and block games. The range includes traditional board games that have been modified or completely invented using augmented reality. Check out the world's first Wikitude-powered augmented reality card game in case you missed it.

The ability to feel virtual objects from an AR or VR environment is something that game developers are currently working on. For example, if you were in a virtual world and touched a hot object from AR, your body would feel the pain. Yes, it's not very strong, but at least you could feel that it was hot or cold. In shooting and action games, where you can feel the character's anguish as they fall, this will give you a more genuine experience.  

Education  

AR in Education

AR technology will make learning more interactive by providing 3D models and animation and many more features. By visiting venues that have included augmented reality capabilities, field trip experiences can be improved with more information and engagement. Since AR allows teachers to integrate gaming elements into textbook material and provide virtual instances of topics, it can make learning in the classroom more engaging and remarkable. Students will be able to study more quickly and memorize information due to this.   

By 2023, there will likely be 2.4 billion mobile users using augmented reality, which is a huge trend that is growing. But in 2015, there were just 200 million users. It is a fantastic increase in numbers that cannot be disregarded.  

What is VR?  

When the real environment you're in gets swapped out for a virtual one, it's called virtual reality (VR). This can be accomplished using a straightforward plastic phone holder, but nowadays, most users prefer head-mounted displays. Virtual reality has dramatically changed the gaming and entertainment sectors by enabling users to fully immerse themselves in a very realistic environment.  

Virtual reality is also a significant participant in the field of education, including medical or military training as well as business activities like virtual meetings.  

AR Vs VR

Aspect 

Augmented Reality (AR) 

Virtual Reality (VR) 

Definition 

Technology that overlays virtual content in the real world. 

Immersive technology that creates a simulated environment. 

Environment 

Real-world environment with virtual overlays. 

Completely simulated/virtual environment. 

Interaction 

Users interact with both real and virtual elements. 

Users interact only with virtual elements. 

Device 

AR devices include smartphones, tablets, smart glasses, or headsets with cameras. 

VR devices include head-mounted displays (HMDs) or VR headsets. 

Field of View 

Typically, limited field of view (FOV). 

Wide field of view (FOV) for a more immersive experience. 

Realism 

Virtual elements appear overlaid on the real world, preserving realism. 

Virtual environment can be highly realistic but lacks real-world elements. 

Purpose 

Enhancing real-world experiences or adding digital information/context. 

Creating a fully immersive and simulated experience. 

Applications 

AR finds applications in gaming, education, healthcare, navigation, and more. 

VR finds applications in gaming, training, simulations, virtual tours, and more. 

Physical Presence 

Users remain aware of their physical surroundings. 

Users are isolated from the physical world. 

Social Interaction 

Users can interact with others in the real world. 

Users can interact with other VR users remotely or within virtual environments. 

Cost 

AR devices vary in cost but are often more accessible. 

VR devices can be more expensive, especially high-end setups. 

Examples 

Pokémon Go, Snapchat filters, Microsoft HoloLens. 

Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR. 

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two paradigm-shifting technologies that are fundamentally altering how we interact with our environment. While VR immerses us in virtual worlds, augmented reality (AR) enriches the actual world by superimposing digital information onto our surroundings. Both of these technologies have the power to completely alter industries as well as how we live and work.   

Gaming, education, training, and healthcare are just a few of the industries that are already utilizing augmented reality. For instance, augmented reality (AR) can be used to teach students about historical sites or to give doctors real-time information during surgery. Additional applications for VR include gaming, entertainment, and training.  

The potential for creativity and integration is limitless as AR and VR continue to advance. These innovations could bring about innovative and fun new ways to study, work, and play. It is possible that in the future, AR and VR will blend seamlessly with the real world. As a result, a new era of human experience would usher in the peaceful coexistence of both physical and virtual reality.  

Also, read: AR Vs VR - Key Difference & Advantages

Umesh Solanki

Backend Developer

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