Augmented Reality (AR) is a digital medium that presents information about users’ surroundings on devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smartglasses. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines AR as both “an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera),” as well as the technology for creating AR.
Although Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have similar names, the two media are generally distinguished from one another based on the user experience. While Virtual Reality creates an immersive reality that replaces the user’s surroundings with digital data, Augmented Reality lets the user see and/or hear digital content about the surrounding environment while still perceiving that environment. Not everyone, however, agrees on how to define Augmented Reality, particularly in comparison with other forms of digital representations.
To determine when to deliver AR content to a user, AR software relies on triggers such as visual targets (or “markers”) and geographical locations. Some AR software require the user to point a device camera at an image marker, then the software displays an “overlay” with the AR content. Location-based AR, such as Pokémon GO, uses a player’s phone or tablet GPS location to determine when and where to display AR content, such as Pokémon and other features.
Although Augmented Reality technology has existed for decades, it has increased in recent years as a result of hardware improvements in cameras and displays, and the rise of mobile technologies, like smartphones and tablets, as well as Global Positioning Satellites. With millions of users, Pokémon Go! is probably the most popular AR app to date. With evolving software and hardware, it’s interesting to consider where AR will go next.
- Learn about Augmented Reality as a medium and technology, AR’s uses, and AR’s potential future uses
- Differentiate between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
- Experience Augmented Reality by using various AR apps
- Understand how you might create your own Augmented Reality content
- Think critically about layered representation of content through AR
- CNET’s “AR and VR made simple”
- “The Difference between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality”
- “What are the differences among virtual, augmented and mixed reality?”
- “The Mainstreaming of Augmented Reality: A Brief History”
- “Is Pokémon GO Really Augmented Reality?”
- Forbes’s “Nine Real-World Applications of Augmented Reality (AR) Today”
- “Internet Artists Invaded the MoMA With a Guerrilla Augmented Reality Exhibit”
- “Jeff Koon’s augmented reality Snapchat artwork gets ‘vandalized'”
- “People will soon be doing graffiti in augmented reality, and no one knows how to police it”
- New Scientist on “Augmented reality graffiti will lead to advertising ambush wars”
- “Augmented Reality for Good”
- “How Augmented Reality Audio Will Let You Soundtrack Your Life”
- MLB takes AR to next level for fans at ballpark
Tools and Resources
- Use an AR coloring app, such as the Quiver AR App (download the app from the Apple iTunes Store or Google Play store), download Quiver coloring pages, and color a downloaded page and use the app and your phone or tablet’s camera to view the colored page target to see the AR overlay generated by Quiver
- Play an Augmented Reality game such as Pokémon Go! (Apple iTunes Store or Google Play store) and take an AR photo of a Pokémon
- Create your own Augmented Reality text using an AR tool such as HP Reveal
- Locate an Augmented Reality app (such as Leo Augmented Reality on the Apple iTunes Store or Anatomy 4D on Google Play) and experiment with it. Consider: what are AR’s uses? what are its limitations? how might it change some aspect of society (education, entertainment, advertising, etc.)
- Research different uses of Augmented Reality and consider how you might encounter Augmented Reality in the future
- Read about critical Augmented Reality projects