Augmented Reality

``Why be content with simple reality when you can augment it?``

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology for enhancing perceived reality. It is one of the scientific fields of the 21st century. In addition to real sensory perception, the user also receives additional information via a technical device. However, Augmented Reality does not necessarily consist of text, but also includes images, sounds, 3D models, haptic interactions and much more. The technology is also exciting because, for example, the additional information adapts to the user’s perception in real-time. Digital information is displayed and explains the surroundings, depending on what is within the field of view – as seen by the camera viewfinder. This creates true added value for the user.

Creating an augmented reality primarily consists of three steps: detection, identification and augmentation. Put more precisely: Image acquisition, position identification and rendering, namely generating an image, video or 3D object.

Detection and identification takes place by filming the environment, for example with a smartphone, tablet or a laptop’s webcam. The information is then processed and enhanced with additional data, such as data from the GPS receiver. An augmented reality app or a corresponding landing page enhances this data with digital content and displays it as augmented reality. This enables three-dimensional information to be integrated into the real environment in the correct location and in real-time. Because determining the position of the subject and object plays a major role, “augmented reality” is, in some cases, more technically demanding than virtual reality, where completely autonomous virtual worlds are created.

Augmented reality offers a broad range of uses and applications. For example, there are apps which make it easier for tourists to find their way around foreign cities by displaying landmarks and shopping options along with the distance to them. Another app explains the constellations when the smartphone camera is directed toward the night sky. A barcode scanner can be used to view important information about products which is too extensive to fit on the label. Sales also profits from augmented reality because complex products and procedures are easier to present with the help of 3D animations. At the same time, it also supports customers with planning by enabling them to see how a new piece of furniture fits into the real furnishings, for example. There are practically no limits to the possibilities.

Augmented reality is regarded as one of the “most disruptive technologies” with the capacity to fundamentally change human habits. With its enormous innovative power, augmented reality possesses a vast market potential. This ranges from interactive training, visualising the steps of the technical process and safety warnings up to and including its use in medicine and mobility. The fascinating merging of the real and virtual worlds will enhance brand experiences and visitors’ enthusiasm at exhibition booths in future. The games industry is already working furiously on ground-breaking accomplishments for the new era. One thing is already certain: when a new idea arises it is only a question of time until it is implemented as augmented reality. Although the sale of Google Glass – a minicomputer with augmented reality functions worn as a pair of glasses – was discontinued in mid-January 2015, one can safely assume that its successor will follow soon.

Benefits for consumers:

  • Provision of highly current information and product information in real-time
  • Simplifies purchase decisions

 

Benefits for retail and industry:

  • Impressive live presentation of product benefits including projection of products in real space
  • Creates emotional shopping experiences with WOW-effect
  • Consumers are more strongly integrated through virtual interaction, accelerating the purchase decision and creating long-term brand and product memories
  • The ability to easily explain complex products
  • Compensates for lack of space in printed advertisements; expanded, “living” advertising media
  • Controllable and customisable content
  • Precise evaluation by tracking the content accessed
  • Time and cost savings when planning, developing and designing thanks to virtual prototyping and virtual content
  • Data protection/privacy risks (i.e. scannable, transparent person, e.g. via Google Glass combined with social media. More regarding security issues)
  • Virtual spam
  • Display errors due to cheap GPS sensors in various end devices
  • Increased immersion (immersion in the virtual world) creates more intense emotions – both positive and negative