New ventures into augmented reality from major companies are going to begin changing the way we experience the world
What is Augmented Reality?
In today's modern world having a cell phone is a must. You carry your device with you everywhere you go so you can check your texts, social media, and take pictures. We as humans have become almost reliant on the little computers in our pockets. Almost compulsively, we instinctually find our phones out of our pockets and in our hands to either take a picture or pull up our notifications. However, with technology being developed today that instinctual need to grab your phone might be coming to an end. Engineers are working to pull graphics out of your phone display and integrate them into your real-world environments. This new technology, augmented reality, blurs the line between what's real and what's computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.
While most people have heard of the more popular Virtual Reality big companies are investing more into augmented reality as they feel that AR could come to dominate in the consumer market. The basic idea of augmented reality is to superimpose graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements over a real-world environment in real time. While AR improves, enhances or expands real life by inserting virtual objects into the user's real-world environment, Virtual Reality (VR) creates a completely virtual world that users interact with using devices that isolate the user from the real world. VR grabs the headlines, but researchers say that AR will prove to command a bigger market over time. Because augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world as it exists, augmented reality is closer to the real world and is thought of as only an enhancement of what you perceive in your day to day.
While it is relatively new technology, it is slowly being integrated already in our daily lives. For the most popular examples of AR today, look no further than Snapchat's filters that put dog's ears and noses onto their users faces or the #1 downloaded Pokémon Go app which put Pokémon on your street or in your house through your Phone camera and screen. However, as AR begins to be normalized in entertaining games and silly filters, big companies like Apple and Google are heavily investing into AR to look to create a new generation of gadgets that will capture the public's attention.
The Short Lived Rise of the Smart Glasses
Google was the first major company to release an AR project – the infamous "Google Glass", announced way back in 2012 with the products released to the public in 2014. It consisted of a large and bulky band that went around your head with a display that was on the edge of your field of vision, allowing users to decide when they wanted to engage with the display instead of building the graphics into lenses on your glasses. Although the Google Glass did fall flat on its face it seems to have only been a slight setback to the "smart glass" trend powered by AR. Intel came out with their own smart glasses that fit into a relatively normal looking pair of glasses. Although they had to discontinue the line two months after the announcement due to lack of investment – the technology is getting better year after year and some time in the future you could begin to see everyone walking down the street with their new AR enabled smart glasses.
Imagine how your morning commute could change in the future! With augmented-reality displays getting more sophisticated everyday, they might eventually end up as contacts that all of us have in our eyes with informative graphics appearing in your field of view with AI providing you with a plethora of information about your surroundings. Your morning walk to work could be optimized – while walking through the streets of the city maybe you can watch a simulation of the history of how the place around you was built learning things about the city you've lived in for years just by pointing your AR-enabled phone or glasses at a nearby park or building or pulling up subway schedules with just a glance at a nearby subway station.
Apple's AR Initiatives
Apple's CEO Tim Cook has also indicated numerous times about his company's interest and involvement in AR saying in 2016, "AR can be really great. We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We are high on AR for the long run. We think there's great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity. So we're investing." Along with the AR glasses they also released an ARKit for developers in 2017, a software development kit for developers to make AR apps for iOS. The apps that have been made with this ARKit even put Pokémon Go to shame. Ikea's Ikea Place you can position virtual furniture around your house to see how it fits in before you buy it. ARKit games put three-dimensional images into your world using inertial odometry which positions the 3D image in such a way relative to your position that it actually feels real.
Porsche's Surprising Investment and Their Resulting Gains
Another early adopter of AR technology has been the German car manufacturer Porsche. They've released an app for your phone that lets you sit in a virtual driver's seat and power a sports car around your home. They are also bringing a system called Tech Live Look to its dealerships, allowing service technicians to put on a pair of glasses and have hands-free access to all data in the cloud – to blueprints and schematics to more easily diagnose servicing problems. Created by ODG, these glasses are transparent displays that sit directly before your eyes – a bit different than the Google Glass, where the displays were on the edge of your field of view. Technicians can use a tiny trackpad to search for and consult technical documents that appear floating in space. (Voice recognition and gesture commands are promised in a future update.)
More important is that the glasses, which cost $2,750 a pair, will allow the dealer to connect directly to a remote Porsche service expert, who can see what the on-location mechanic is seeing and instruct on what to do. So instead of emailing cell phone photos, they can quickly troubleshoot complex issues that previously required lengthy exchanges. In fact, in Porsche's initial trials, the glasses reduced service time by 40 percent leading to 75 of Porsche's US dealerships signed up, with the other 189 expected to be online by the end of 2019.
With billions and billions of dollars expected to be poured into this field in the coming years, its safe to say it won't be long until everyone has built in heads up displays on their glasses and in the windows of their self-driving cars. Augmented Reality has the potential to change technology as we know it to help in all industries. At Korcomptenz, we keep ourselves apprised of the latest technologies to service our customers in the most efficient way possible. As augmented reality advances, we can show you how you can use this exciting technology to wow consumers and boost your own business. We strive to be at the forefront of all technological breakthroughs, so our customers can be as well. Visit our website to learn more about how Korcomptenz can help your business today.