What is AR?
Augmented reality (AR) is a new form of multimedia interaction that relies on the simultaneous display of two or more images projected on a display that records the environment live, rather than images projected on a monitor. Augmented reality is typically associated with systems that allow 3D objects to be accurately projected into the real world. It is also used to market consumer products, for example, by offering customers a 3D representation of their products in their environment using AR technology.
A brief history of AR experience
The term augmented reality was invented by several researchers, AR start-ups and AR technologists. Great progress has been made within recent years or so, especially with the addition of AR technology to various applications like product marketing, sports events, car navigation, etc., making the AR concept multi-purpose. Meanwhile, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality were gaining popularity among gaming lovers and artists, helping AR to be broadly democratized. For example, recently, Microsoft Research announced the use of HoloLens AR glasses to create augmented reality overlays for Minecraft maps. Another example is an AR classroom application, created using articulate AR technology.
Professors at several Universities are deeply convinced that augmented reality will someday take over many of nowadays standard applications in desktop publishing, as well as real world events, replacing them with interactive digital exhibits. They predict that sooner or later, augmented reality will be used to host and publish these events on premises and even on mobile devices. They also predicted that augmented reality might sooner or later replace physical exhibitions in most consumer contexts, including gaming and entertainment, where users sit with their smartphones facing the screen to view the exhibit.
AR applications in various fields
Augmented reality has attracted considerable attention for application in various fields including industrial, construction, military, marketing, political and social applications, mainly due to its potential to strengthen efficiency, provide new insights and forms of entertainment, and to foster innovation, as well as the free flow of ideas within a community.
For example, professional commentary suggests that going virtual with prototypes for various construction methods incorporated into the building process, results in a better training of employees, in finding new designs and less costs. Thus, several companies announced a plan at press conferences to build massive buildings backed by augmented reality. Representatives of companies, involved in the AR-related construction industry, announced a digital transformation fund war due to the promising prospects.
According to reports, going virtual could also constitute a new form of virtual tourism, with some commentators suggesting that such projects could one day entirely replace tourism. Many AR affine companies also announced an AR campaign aimed at increasing sales of their products using various AR toolkits with many great examples of digital AR in the marketing space.
In fact, many companies are investing heavily in AR technology with some companies announcing they would invest billions in AR and similar projects around the world. Similarly, major companies in retailing announced billions of investment into AR campaigns, targeting both retail customers and industry partners, with some retailers considering AR campaigns as part of their loyalty rewards program.
Despite some projects receiving widespread criticism, due to the increasing availability and widespread adoption of AR toolkits, of digital AR platforms, and of next generation AR suites being ready for download, the future of AR experiences for customers and stakeholders looks bright.
In short, AR appears to help industries, stakeholders, and consumers to organize their workforce, spending, and experiences, which in turn could potentially benefit both companies (like retailers), consumers, and the wider economy. Having said that, major challenges remain in particular the need for widespread adoption across all industries and product lines, especially in emerging markets, and the need for both innovation and quality control to be high. For various industries, AR seems to provide a way to target consumers with branded products and, of course, the convenience and accessibility of using AR. While, for consumers demanding specific services, AR offers a way to access content they may not find anywhere else, as demonstrated by the increasing use of mobile AR in retail.
Moreover, AR seems to spread among a wider audience (as shown by the HoloLens applicator). Finally, however, AR also appears to be a vehicle for managing brand impression, especially as consumers become more receptive to AR content.
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