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Looking into the Future: Augmented Reality

Author: Emily Jiang

Editor: Peggy Yang and Kyra Wang

Artist: Carys Chen

Whenever people think of new modern technology, virtual reality (VR) often comes to mind instead of augmented reality (AR). But what exactly is augmented reality? AR is the combination of virtual elements that are put over reality. The additional reality aspect and interactions with the real world are what distinguishes AR from VR. AR may seem hardly used in daily life, but it’s pretty common. For instance, the filters you use on Instagram or TikTok are examples of AR. In 1968, a Harvard professor created the first mounted AR display where digital graphics heightened sensory perception, and as time went on, AR was incorporated into daily life which can be seen in theater and entertainment, print media, and retail.

Augmented reality can be used in many aspects of life, but how exactly does it work? There are many necessary components that go into AR. The first component is artificial intelligence, which is used in voice prompts that help perform actions, as well as process information. Then, AR software is implemented where the tools and applications are used to send as well as access the information received and processed by said artificial intelligence. The information is then translated into pictures and images and displayed through lenses to be able to see the virtual content. Meanwhile, sensors connected to the AI are used to integrate the environment so the AR systems can line up the real and digital environments.

In order to incorporate all these components, companies mainly utilize smartphones or AR glasses to project virtual objects onto the field of vision. For example, AR software uses the camera to make a video stream that recognizes objects and movements so that it can overlay virtual elements (graphics) on top of the physical element. The smartphone would access a “digital twin,” which is a digital copy/representation of a physical thing, and is then manipulated digitally to create a corresponding AR effect. The digital twin receives information about the physical element through sensors, allowing the software to lay the digital twin onto it. As a result, the user can interact with the digital elements by sending commands to the software.

There are two main types of augmented reality: marker-based, marker-less, and superimposition-based AR. Marker-based AR assigns markers on the physical object to detect unique visual signs that the camera can easily process/recognize. The market's position is calculated with every detail in which the marker is uniquely changed and processes the AR image accordingly. Some examples of marker-based AR are QR codes, logos, and product packaging. Marker-less AR is where the device uses a recognition algorithm to find out what the physical element is, as well as to scan the environment. Then it uses GPS, gyroscopes, compasses, and accelerometers to position the virtual element in the real world. The positioning of the virtual element is based on geometry. Examples of markerless AR can range anything from position-based games like Pokemon Go to product placements. Because AR technology has such a wide range of usage, it is used in many places, such as healthcare, public safety, oil, tourism, marketing, military, and automobiles.

As time goes on augmented reality will become more advanced and can be used to improve many lives. The development of technology has changed our modern-day lives in various ways and will continue to do so in the future.

 

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