Understanding Augmented Reality

You hear a lot about it all around you, everyone seems to be doing it, brands are jumping on the bandwagon, but what is augmented reality actually? We all know what computer games look like these days. They are getting more and more involving as time goes by. But truth be told, your mind always differentiates between what is real and what isn’t.  This fine line blurs once again with the advent of augmented reality.  As the name suggests, this technology layers a level of information over a real world image generated by a camera, thus augmenting it. And it’s not just images that can be superimposed. You can also have audio cues as well. You might have tried out a guided recorded tour at your local museum. Well that is an example of augmented reality as well.

Another basic form of augmented reality is something you see on your television these days. Just tune into a formula one race and you will notice that there are several on screen overlays. These provide the viewer with information about how fast a car is accelerating, its revs and the gear it is in. At the same time a viewer can see the current laps and the race order, all with the help of overlays. All this provides additional information to what would otherwise just be a video broadcast. Real time augmented reality is also used in aircrafts that have a heads up display. This allows a pilot to look out of a cockpit while at the same time assimilating the tilt of the plane, its speed, pitch and other factors.

In the interactive space augmented reality is now associated with a marker and a webcam. Holding the marker in front of the webcam produces a 3D model that can be manipulated virtually. The net is rife with examples of augmented reality. Brands like the Mini Cooper have provided augmented reality markers which when help up to a web camera turns into a car model that can be rotated and opened. Similar promotions have been done for brands like Olympus cameras and Tissot watches. For brands this is a new way for people to experience a product without walking into a store. A stunning example is Audi’s augmented reality calendar that depicts landscape photos, which when held in front of a webcam animates depicting a dynamic environment and a car placed within it. It even unveils how a concept design has metamorphosed into a road car! Movies like Transformers promote their DVDs with augmented reality add freebies. Even board games receive a new breath of life with augmented reality tokens. An excellent example of augmented reality toys is the range for James Cameron’s Avatar. Today augmented reality is even on Facebook! Just check out the R K SWAMY Interactive page on Facebook today.

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