What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is a hot topic these days, which has merged itself into the daily lives of millions of people. It makes your Snapchats funnier, lets you hunt for Pikachus, but also helps users make decisions and work more efficiently. Did you know for example that by using AR instructions an assembly worker can do his work 33% faster and with 96% fewer mistakes? Or that AR can help you learn a task twice as fast?

Let’s take a look at what Augmented Reality is and does, and see why it’s such an incredible innovation. 

Virtual objects in reality

Augmented Reality (also sometimes called Mixed Reality) literally means reality with something added. That’s also exactly how it works: an AR application looks at the world around you, recognizes it, and adds something extra into your world, a virtual object.

That virtual object (called an augmentation) can be anything—a 3D animation of an engine for example, a 2D video, an arrow, a person, or simply a block of text. It acts just like a real object. You can walk around it and interact with it in a very natural way. It’s just like it’s really there!

The difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

With Virtual reality (VR), the user puts on a pair of VR glasses that completely isolate him/her from the real world. VR applications are therefore particularly suitable for simulating environments that are not (yet) available, such as a house to be built or a fantasy world. For this reason, VR is particularly popular within the real estate development and game and entertainment industry. Augmented reality, on the other hand, applies when the real world is relevant. AR glasses, mobile or tablet do allow you to look around, talk to people and react to your surroundings. This makes AR more suitable for things like assisting with production, training, maintenance, marketing and sales. This is why AR ultimately has a broader deployability and a larger market. As the graph below illustrates, AR’s market is expected to be almost 4 times bigger than the VR market by 2021.

Digi captial AR cijfers

How does Augmented Reality work?

Augmented reality works through a process called Computer Vision. This ensures that your device can recognize the world around it. This usually works in 3 steps:

Step 1: Tracking
An application uses the camera on your phone to scan your environment for points that can distinguish it. All these points are brought together in a scene that tells the application where the ground is and wether there are objects or not. This can be a marker, but it can also recognize a previously learned 3D object, or simply a ground plane.

Step 2: Detection
When the application recognizes your environment, the app shows the correct 3D object that is linked to the environment. You can then interact with the AR object using gestures or a voice command, for example to request additional information or to start an animation. The user’s interactions can, if the solution so requires, be processed in the back-end such as an ERP or e-commerce system.

There are many different techniques to do this process of Tracking & Recognition. By using the right ones, the augmentations are displayed in an accurate and stable way in the right context. More information about the technology behind AR.

uses of Augmented Reality

The real magic of Augmented Reality is not in how it works, but in what it does. Because AR lets you place everything you want in the real world, it is possible to visualize objects and instructions in a clear and realistic way. For example, you can display instructions on how to check the liquids of your car directly on your engine compartment. But with AR, you can also place a virtual sofa in your living room before you buy it, to see if it’s the right size and if it fits your other furniture. This doesn’t force you to read manuals and watch videos, but allows you to work more efficiently with clear instructions. This focus on the user is how Augmented Reality creates value every day for many different companies in the areas of Marketing and Sales, Industry & Maintenance, Training & Education and Remote Assistance through smart glasses. Whether it makes Industry 4.0 possible, it helps you to make the right purchase decision or offers you a surprising experience: AR is the next big step forward.

Augmented reality for your organization?

TWNKLS is a full-service AR agency. Together we determine the best use case for your organisation, we examine the technical feasibility and quickly test a first version with your customers. We examine how the solution fits into the existing architectures and processes, advise on governance and carry out the technical realisation. We do this with standard services and proven methods. See all our services here.