Augmented reality is a fairly new technology that was first seen, when it was adapted for video game use. Since that time, it has been utilized in a number of ways and across a broad range of industries. One of the most helpful uses of augmented reality has been in the way that it has helped doctors and other caregivers improve patient care. It has also been used in the fields of architecture, construction, health and fitness, and in improving educational and training programs. Even so, many people don’t quite grasp what the term “augmented reality” really means.

What is Augmented Reality?
If you understand the word “augment,” you already have a basic understanding of this technology. As the word infers, augmented reality (AR) involves enhancing your natural environment with additional stimuli. In this case, computer generated visual effects, audio cues, and enhanced touch sensations are used to supplement what you would normally see with the naked eye.

In Marker based AR, a special camera works in conjunction with a visual marker to create imagery that can only be perceived, when viewed through a special lens equipped with a reader. A camera icon is often seen over the image to distinguish it from real world objects. Meanwhile, Markerless AR is more commonly used and works with GPS and similar technologies, which measure length, distance, or direction. Many people already use this technology without even realizing it. For instance, markerless AR is used to identify area businesses and landmarks on digital maps. Smartphones use markerless AR routinely in providing directions and in establishing your physical location.

Projection based AR takes the augmented imagery and transposes it onto real world objects. Once the AR images are projected, the system senses human interaction, such as touch, and produces the appropriate response. This technology is what makes 3D holographic images possible.

Superimposition is another way that AR technology is used and it involves superimposing an enhanced version of an object over the same real world object. The system uses object recognition software to locate and identify the object, before superimposing the enhanced, or augmented, version of that object over it. This type of AR is especially helpful to architects, when they develop remodeling plans for their clients. This kind of AR lets the client see what the finished design will look like, before construction alters the area.

Many people confuse augmented reality with virtual reality (VR), which involves existing within a computer-generated world. The benefit of AR over VR is that you can see how real world objects will be affected by proposed changes. It can help patients see how surgeries will help them, just as much as it can help contractors visualize their construction plans in real estate development. In fact, the applications for AR are limitless and, as the technology continues to advance, it can give us greater insight into any planned project.