Augmented Reality—The Next Big Thing


With the introduction of the new iPhone X, augmented reality has created a significant buzz in the digital world, even being named “the next big thing” in the industry. Researchers and engineers are now pulling graphics off the screen and integrating them into real-world environments. For example, Pokemon Go was one of the first successful applications of AR and has spearheaded the development of many more games and apps utilizing this kind of technology. As technology continues to progress, augmented reality will become prominent in the digital industry.

What is AR:

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes graphics, audio, and other sensory enhancements in a user’s real-world environment in real time. Cell phones and video games are currently leading the development of AR, but we can expect AR to be adapted to many more devices in the future. Compared to virtual reality, augmented reality is closer to the real world of the users. Augmented reality is executed using a camera and mirror to examine the surrounding world, feeding that information back to the device. The device then processes that image and gathers GPS information and generates data from the internet, then projects that information onto the surface in front of the user, or back onto the screen of the device. Augmented reality is literally changing the way users view the world.

How it’s used:

Cell phones and video games have been a strong force behind augmented reality technology. While the technology continues to advance, AR is already being implemented in many ways. Here are the four types of technology augmented reality is made up of:

  • Marker Based Augmented Reality: Marker-based augmented reality uses a camera and some type of visual marker to produce a result only when the marker is sensed by a reader. Marker-based AR can also be called image recognition.
  • Markerless Augmented Reality: This is one of the most widely used types of AR. It uses a GPS or some type of location feature embedded in your device to provide data based on your current location.
  • Projection based Augmented Reality: This type of AR works by projecting artificial light onto real-world surfaces that allow for human interaction.
  • Superimposition Augmented Reality: Superimposition AR can partially or fully replace the original view of an object with a newly augmented view of the same object. For example, Ikea allows you to view how a product would look in your room.

The Future of AR:

Exciting augmented reality advancements are taking place all over the world. One of the most promising aspects of AR is that once it has developed into higher quality, it will be able to collect significant data about the immediate environment of consumers. Apple currently created the ARKit which is “a new framework that allows you to create unparalleled augmented reality experiences” for the iPhone and iPad. Essentially, this means Apple made it easier for developers to get their 3D graphics into the natural world. ARKit apps will work for iPhone 6s and any newer model running on iOS11. The iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus, and iPhone X will be optimized for AR use. For example, at the iPhone X launch, Craig Federighi showed Snapchat filters that looked as if they were actually stuck to the face. This new software makes AR more realistic than ever. Android has also developed their own ARKit equivalent called ARCore. The goal of both the ARKit and ARCore is to get AR technology in the hands of more users to grow its presence in our daily lives. Some experts say that the continued development of AR could bring 3-D holographic devices into our everyday lives.

Augmented reality is not necessarily a new concept, but the latest technologies are bringing them to the forefront and effectively blending the real with the virtual. Computer graphics have become much more sophisticated since the early 1970’s when Pong was introduced to arcades. Researchers and engineers are now pulling these graphics out of the screen and integrating them into our natural environment. While AR continues to develop, it is important that we continue to follow its growth and improvements. As marketers, we know the importance of integrating our brand into the lives of our ideal consumers and augmented reality could be the way to effectively achieve this.