Anthony Fowler

Augmented Reality


Augmented Reality is a real buzz topic in our industry and has been for a while and so it should be, the real world applications for AR are tremendously exciting. Most of you have played mobile games that use this technology, Pokemon Go is a great example, the interesting thing for me is the other uses like education and business.

Explanation of AR

For the educated or the mildly curious you'll know that AR is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.

Some Technical Stuff

Originally cameras in devices needed to identify a high contrast image, a QR code for example, recognise that image and overlay a 3D image in its place. The image was anchored to the QR code and if you moved the camera away and back it would have to start the process again, leaving you with a waiting time and an overly focused experience.

That all changed with Apples iOS 11 update that gave us the AR Kit to play with, as developers we got it a little earlier than the rest of you and we had a great time placing augmented lamps in each-others hands and turning them on and off (its the simple things in life.

This new update also gives us the power to place an augmented image on a plane rather than anchor it to an image, it also allowed us to move that image around a real world environment and leave it there.

IKEA & Apple

Two giants of business and technology teamed up to develop this software further, IKEA have a product called Place, its a fantastic tool for placing items of furniture in your home to answer the questions everyone asks, "is that going to fit" & "does that colour match my curtains". With an accuracy level of 98% for dimensions and an amazingly accurate colour and textures, your worries about buying the wrong product are over.

Unfortunately you'll still have to spend the weekend building everything but hell, it's IKEA, that's the whole point.

Other Real world uses

I've enjoyed many conversations with my colleagues, friends, family and even strangers about what AR could be used for, a few interesting ideas and talking points came up, I'm sure that some of these are either in production or in the market already but here's are my favourite:

The augmented teaching assistant

Lets ignore the whole kids and phones in school argument to indulge in this idea.
I'll focus on the sciences because they're the most fun and offer the most opportunity.

Biology: Using AR we can map images, animations and clickable areas to a real world skeleton, students will be able to navigate around the skeleton, click on areas of interest, like bone names (latin and common), their uses, strength etc.

Chemistry: Explosions, Fire, Chemical Reactions! all without the inherent dangers, plus they can learn at home. Enough said.

Physics: Ever wanted to stand in the middle of our galaxy and interact with each of the planets, maybe you've never thought about it but you are now, the ability to "paint" the galaxy around us, move through it and also manipulate it is a wonderful thought and an incredibly enriching learning experience.

The Future

I can see AR being one of the most utilised technologies across every sector, both as a tool for entertainment and for learning and enriching our everyday experiences and interactions. I look forward to being a part of the industry and culture that push Augmented tech towards this goal.

I encourage you to think of ways this technology could help you, if you come up with something cool don't keep it to yourself, let me know and we can explore it together.