Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a set of technologies that allow the superposition of a virtual world into the real one through a certain technological device.

By adding layers of visual information, users can access additional real-world information that they could not otherwise see, all in real time and interactively.

Differences between Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality

  • Virtual Reality (VR): Virtual Reality allows us to build a completely new world. A virtual one in which the scenarios are fictional, but feel like real. To access this world or reality, we need a device (glasses or other). It is important to highlight that to be considered as Virtual Reality, the user must be able to interact with it (a 3D movie cannot be considered as virtual reality).

A clear example of VR would be video games in which users can immerse themselves using specialized glasses.

Within virtual reality, we can distinguish between:

          • Immersive Virtual Reality: In addition to immersing themselves in a fictional world, users receive sensory stimuli so they can feel it too.
          • In the case of Non-immersive Reality, the experience is lived through a screen and accessories such as mouse, keyboard, microphone, etc. are required.
          • Semi-Immersive Reality: 4 screens are used. One of them is placed on the floor and the other 3 on the walls surrounding the user. Thanks to these screens,   apir of glasses and a device that picks up the movements, users can enjoy the experience.
  • Augmented Reality (AR): Unlike Virtual Reality, everything is produced in a real environment. Thanks to a camera and the screen of a device, we can add elements or virtual information with wich we can interact. 
  • Finally, we could say that Mixed Reality (RM) is a hybrid between the previous two. This technology allows users to create new spaces in which they can interact with real or virtual people/objects.

Key elements of the Augmented Reality Universe

Every Augmented Reality system consists of the following elements:

  • Camera: it could be that of the PC, smartphone or tablet. The camera captures real-world images and sends them to the augmented reality software.
  • Processor: is the piece of hardware that mixes real-world images and virtual information.
  • Software: it manages the entire process. It takes real-world data and transforms it into augmented reality.
  • Screen: Glasses or PC screen where users see the result of combining the real world and the virtual one.
  • Internet connection: this point seems obvious but it is essential. Without an Internet connection we will not be able to send the real-world information to the processor or receive the two overlapping worlds back.
  • Activator: acts as an intermediary between the software and the camera to recognize the real world and select the virtual information to be added. It can be a QR code, a marker, an image, the GPS signal of a device, etc. 
  • Marker: a marker is a sheet with symbols that the software interprets. and based on it, it performs a specific action: Show 3D image, make real-time changes to the image, etc.

Real use cases

  • Medicine: A doctor may be monitoring the constants of a patient, seeing a 4D or 5D ultrasound, or examining the patient internally without having to perform a surgery, among others.
  • Tourism: Let´s imagine that the next time we visit a museum or a city, just by looking at a certain picture or building, we could receive useful information about it.
  • Real Estate: augmented reality offers us the possibility of being able to visit virtually an apartment or see how a property could be after an integral reform.
  • Education: Thanks to Augmented Reality, students can interact eith 3D objects or get more information about a particular concept.
  • Commerce / Advertising: As with real estate, there are more and more dealers, fashion stores or makeup brands (to name a few) that allow their customers to see and try the product before purchasing it.
  • Television: It is increasingly common to analyze controversial situations or explain to the viewers some news with Augmented Reality.

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