Augmented Reality

Scientists have long sought in vain after the ability to mold reality to their will, whether in the form of using alchemy to turn materials into gold or through chemistry to create new compounds out of thin air.

However, nowadays more ways than one exist for us to use illusions not only to play games but to significantly improve our standards of living with augmented reality technology.

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The Beginning of Reality Literally Defined by Imagination

Historians have not reached a consensus on whether to call Ivan Sutherland’s contraption the first example of augmented reality or virtual reality, though the majority aligns with the former. In 1968, Sutherland created the Sword of Damocles at Harvard University.

This device was large, bulky, and hung from the ceiling above the user’s head, much like the Greek sword from which it draws its name. The device allowed the user to experience computerized graphics, creating the illusion of augmented reality.

Since then, countless iterations of virtual reality and augmented reality have risen up, the primary difference between the two realities being that augmented reality adds to or builds on the real world’s landscape whereas virtual reality entirely creates its own landscape.

Reality Created by Computer Processing

Current augmented reality systems use arrays of cameras in order to first capture the outside world. Then the device will process the received images and generate content to lay on top of them, giving the illusion that something additional exists at that location.

Since 2013, multiple major companies have begun incorporating augmented reality software into their user interfaces.

Volkswagen now uses AR to help buyers become more familiar with their vehicles; Google created the AR glasses, Google Glass, which was primarily an unsuccessful failure; and Microsoft has created another version of the Google Glass.

Pokémon Go and Other Games

When millenials and younger generations hear “AR,” the first thing they think of is Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go is a wildly successful app that uses your device’s camera and processor to render images of Pokémon jumping around on screen as if they were actually in the room with you.

Pokémon Go was designed by Niantic, a major app developer, with the primary purpose being to create an augmented reality Pokémon game.

After later seeing how incredibly successful (and not to mention lucrative) this game was, they decided to branch out and create another AR game entitled “Harry Potter Wizards Unite,” in which you play as a wizard who experiences magic in the real world through AR.

Conclusion

When it comes to applied augmented reality, there is plenty of room left to grow. This bustling technology is surprisingly still in its infancy, despite decades of improvements and technological innovations.

However, with the advent of games like Pokémon Go and Wizards Unite, things are starting to finally look up for real-world applications of augmented reality.

Further Reading

For a detailed history of the development and implementation of augmented reality technology, check out this link. It provides information on each major change to the technology from its inception to 2018.