Peter Jobes is a tech & blockchain writer. Featured in VentureBeat.
The very term ‘augmented reality’ can spark thoughts of futuristic, high-tech gadgets that have become commonplace in the world of sci-fi movies. However, the integration of AR into our daily lives may already be underway.
Once upon a time, AR really was confined to the domain of science fiction, but times are changing at a rapid rate.
Whether we realize it or not, AR is already beginning to make its presence felt in the daily lives of many of us.
Although much of the past decade was dominated by consumer excitement at the growth of the virtual reality headset market, AR users are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than the entire VR market over the near future.
Let’s take a deeper look into how AR is already entering the daily lives of millions of consumers and how it’s helping them along the way:
If you’re a fan of having the latest gadgets and apps, it’s extremely likely that you’ve been using AR without even noticing. Snapchat, for instance, utilizes the technology to revolutionize the selfies that are uploaded onto its app – recognising faces and overlaying them with various pretty, outlandish, or surprising filters.
AR allows for continuous tracking, which means that users can scrunch up their faces without distorting the filter. Some special effects are even triggered by users pulling funny faces.
As augmented reality and facial recognition become more intertwined, visual industries like beauty and fashion are likely to become much more immersive for users moving forward.
Another increasingly common use case for AR in everyday life can be found when it comes to buying clothing, furniture and even homes. While virtual tours can guide users through homes they’re looking to buy from the comfort of their own living room, buyers can use dedicated apps like Houzz and DecorMatters to run virtual tests of what sort of furnishings they would like in their new living space.
One of the early leaders in the industry of AR furniture shopping is IKEA, which has developed its own app, IKEA Place, designed so that customers can virtually try our new chairs, tables and other fittings before they buy them.
Retail giants Amazon rarely shy away from innovation and have attempted to cut down the volume of clothing returns the company experiences by creating a ‘virtual changing room’ app.
The AR-based application scans your body measurements and assesses your preferences before offering styling and sizing advice to you.
The virtual dressing room app will be capable of generating how the clothes would look on you through an embedded presentation layer. As a result of this integrated digital layer, the fit of clothing can be significantly more accurate, meaning that customers can get a comprehensive insight into whether their purchases are going to suit them.
The Arrival of AR Wearables
Not very far in the future, instead of using our smartphones or having to wear bulky glasses, we’ll be able to fit
AR lenses into regular frames and become visually interconnected with our environment everywhere we go.
(Image showing AR glasses unit shipments worldwide from 2016 to 2022. Source: Statista)
Soon, we’ll just be able to fit AR lenses to our regular set of glasses. Considering that there are various face shapes, and hence, a wide variety of frames, there may need to be a movement in technology in order to make a one-size-fits-all AR lense.
The arrival of AR wearable technology like augmented glasses is set to be a watershed moment for the industry, and Apple is rumoured to be close to announcing its entry on to the market in the form of Apple Glass – eyewear that has the power to digitally overlay information to appear in the wearer’s line of vision.
With other major rivals like Facebook and Microsoft also rumoured to be developing their own AR eyewear, we’re likely to see the race for adoption reach fever pitch in the coming months.
Although AR eyewear isn’t quite ready to hit the high street just yet, augmented healthcare is already being utilised for a variety of medical treatments as well as in diagnosing illnesses. Notably, medical students are turning to AR to help improve their training, meaning that they can then perform surgeries with the help of information provided to them via augmented reality layers.
By using AR eyewear, users will be capable of finding more vital data surrounding patients and procedures while on the go. This, in turn, allows them to learn faster and increase the efficiency of their studies.
It’s not only students who are benefitting from the use of AR, however. Experienced surgeons are beginning to include AR overlays into their line of work.
The image above shows us an example of how AR can help to guide student surgeons through complex practices while providing a greater level of accuracy to users.
In some cases, AR can even help patients on their way to faster recoveries. For instance, Felix Reges, a nine-year-old boy who suffers from Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome which has caused him to go blind, is an example of somebody who has used AR to adapt to his new life. Reges uses a head-on device to augment the objects around him and enhance his visual perception.
The future of AR and healthcare is exciting for many. When the technology is paired with Internet of Things technology, it’s likely that many patient-friendly solutions will help people to better recover from their ailments.
The gaming industry has been one of the pioneers of augmented reality technology, and played a significant role in making AR more popular and exposed to large audiences.
Today, many games have already been developed around AR technology. While Pokemon Go has become a flagship game built on augmented reality, other titles like Titans of Space and AR Air Hockey have risen to the fore in recent years. AR games typically offer players digital experiences that are simulated in real-world environments.
Augmented reality is also heavily used by the music industry in various ways to produce, control, mix and visualise music to enrich the production process.
In the world of television, AR is growing to become a commonplace presence – especially when it comes to sports broadcasting. Super Bowl 2020 attracted 100 million viewers, and all of them will have seen AR technology hard at work producing graphic overlays onto the sports field and offering seamless facts and stats that would appear as though it’s been painted onto the grass itself.
Today, it’s not unusual for sports broadcasts to present team lineups as 3D overlays on top of the field of play. In fact, in their bid to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup, Japan even presented the possibility of broadcasting augmented player holograms to recreate matches in stadiums across the world.
It’s clear that the applications of augmented reality are having a positive impact in an array of industries all around the world. Although we may still greet the topic of augmentation with visions of Minority Report interactive screens and various other sci-fi renderings, the reality is that AR is already here and we may soon be wearing augmented eyewear everywhere we go.
For now, let’s appreciate the impressive strides that augmented reality has been taking in the fields of entertainment and healthcare over recent years. In a world that can be enhanced by a single digital overlay, the future certainly looks bright.
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