04 Oct 2017

Augmented Reality: Today’s Insight

The Buzz word – Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is the process of overlaying computer-generated information above real-world view, thereby creating a delusion to the users. AR applications are based on location and image recognition. They use device’s camera and GPS to recognize captured images and location pointers. In doing so, it provides users with relevant digital information projected on top of the real –world view.

AR’s Origin and Fate
The technology has witnessed progressive innovations since the date, the term “Augmented Reality” was first coined in 1990s or even dating back to 1960s when head-mounted displays came into existence. Falling in line, how can we forget Hollywood movie “The Terminator” giving a glimpse of AR in early 90’s. With the growth of mobile technology in 2000s, the first handheld AR system was introduced by Wagner and Schmalstieg and later a multiplayer handheld AR game, the Invisible Train was showcased as a game changer. Later in 2000’s an Android mobile application named Wikitude AR Travel Guide gave an upthrust to the technology market. Since then there has been no stopping to the ever increasing growth of AR applications, which has lead us to where we are today.
Augmented Reality finds its applications in our lives today across fields, like gaming, advertising, tourism, and many more. Most known of all, Google glass and heads-up displays have found its applicability in medical, automobiles, marketing etc. Whether it’s an instructor helping its students to understand human body, or taking a driving test or even playing a racing game, AR lets us glide through its world of illusions.

Numerous mobile applications available in App stores allow integration of digital data above smartphone’s camera in order to interact with the real world. And who would not agree that Pokémon Go was the first ever user experience in the world of AR at the behest of the smartphones.

Work by Tech Giants in AR
Apple recently declared a new augmented reality development platform, named as ARKit, for developers to develop more dominant AR based apps on iOS platform. The new AR platform is expected with the launch of iOS 11 in the forthcoming iPhone 8, an AR enabled smartphone. It is believed that ARKit would help expansion of prevailing AR apps and enable object scaling at a tremendous rate. Apple claims that the new platform would minimize resource drain as it would utilize a minimal of device’s resources.

Like other Tech giants, Apple also has been working in the field of AR since long. Apple is speculated to be working on smart glasses in conjunction with iPhone, and also looking at integrating its AR platform with their ongoing Automobile projects.

In the recent past, Facebook created a buzz in the market with its first VR headsets “Oculus Rift”, giving gamers a whole new experience. Facebook is back again with its Camera Effects platform, which will allow users to overlay digital images on top of photos and videos in Facebook.
Moreover as per the Facebook developers, the Camera Effects Platform turns smartphone cameras into the first AR platform, providing an opportunity for artists and developers to create effects for the Facebook camera. Included with this new platform are two creative tools, Frame Studio and AR Studio that give the Facebook community the power to create a full spectrum of camera effects, from simple frames to interactive augmented reality (AR) experiences. This platform empowers artists and developers to connect art with data to bring AR into everyday life through the Facebook camera.

Facebook is also believed to be working on similar lines in the field of AR. News about Facebook’s AR glasses are already taking rounds in the market. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is yet to unfold on what the social network has planned for the next year and beyond.

Likewise, Microsoft is heading fast in AR with its HoloLens, a holographic augmented reality headset. The prototype is believed to offer an 80-degree horizontal view field, and enabling the wearer to realize high resolution colored holograms, practically unreal. The surroundings are mapped using the internal sensors, thereby making the external positioning devices completely redundant. Furthermore, the device notes the wearer’s field-of-view and understands input commands in the form of hand gestures.

Microsoft, a company known for its distinctive style, is heading fast towards providing a single platform supporting both AR and VR capabilities.

Google’s Google glass is conceivably the most recognized Augmented Reality product known to the world. It became famous as a wearable computer in the form of eyeglasses, enabling users to access the features of a smartphone through voice commands.

Thereon, Google stepped forward into incorporating AR onto mobile devices, thereby eliminating the need for a secondary headset, by launching project Tango. Google’s Tango is an augmented reality mobile platform that uses multiple cameras and sensors to understand device’s location. Application developers can exploit this platform to develop unique user experiences such as high precision interior mapping, complex game play, enhanced shopping experience, etc.

Subsequently,Lenovo joined hands with Google to launch its first AR-enabled smartphone, the Lenovo Phab2 Pro. The mobile cases specialized sensors and cameras for assisting the project Tango. Also, Asus recently launched its Tango based smartphone, ZenFone AR. The sensors equipped with the smartphone allow motion tracking, depth definition, and area measurements. The infrared projector of the device’s camera allows distance-object measurements through depth sensing.

Google is all set to take a big leap in AR industry with its newly unveiled Google Lens. With the capability to identify featured locations and buildings appearing in the mobile’s camera, it will certainly be a game changer.

Other dominant players like Samsung and Amazon are also trying to keep the pace with the leading firms in AR and related domains. As Samsung has recently filed a patent on AR contact lenses, which can project images straight into the users’ eyes. Furthermore, Innovega showcased augmented reality contact lenses named iOptik, which projects a heads-up display onto contact lenses.Market Insight

As per market reports, Augmented Reality market is expected to be valued at USD 5.83 Billion in 2017 and is likely to reach USD 47.8 Billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 54.7{e376cc23ceea11f30dfb577cba2b5547d047ebb7628b6ef4583aa3e610522d69} during the forecast period.

Further hardware devices in the augmented reality market are predicted to grow at a CAGR of 88.6{e376cc23ceea11f30dfb577cba2b5547d047ebb7628b6ef4583aa3e610522d69} from 2017 to 2022 due to the developments in displays, processors, and sensors. On software side, market would observe sizable growth due to the increasing dependence on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets presenting rich media and enhanced experience through mobilAR apps.

As per Digi-Capital report quoted by Venture Beat, an investment of $1.5 billion is tracked in the last 12 months to Q1 2017.

Companies have been investing heavily not only in the R&D labs on AR but also shedding loads on M&A deals as well. News reveals that Facebook has become the largest investor in AR after buying Oculus for $2 billion. Apple too has been on a shopping spree lately for developing their AR capabilities. Some recent Apple’s acquisition list includes SensoMotoric Instruments, RealFace, PrimeSense, Metaio, Faceshift, Emotient, and FlybyMedia, as revealed by multiple media sources. Microsoft is not far behind in AR battle, sources reveal recent acquisition of Swedish 3D gaming firm, Simplygon. Further, it is heard that Microsoft has bought patents from Osterhout Design Group related to AR. We have also seen Google’s investment in Magic Leap, acquisition of Skillman & Hacket and Thrive Audio in the similar field of work.

Thinking beyond – IoT + AR
The roadmap of Augmented Reality goes beyond infinity. What if the world of IoT (Internet of Things) walks in-hand with AR, Is there an end? If IoT assists generating information from collected data and AR enables using generated information for better interaction with the real-world. This integration would create endless opportunities such as smart manufacturing, enhanced customer experience, industrial design and support.









As stated in Forbes India, Caterpillar effectively leverages AR to really ‘augment’ its field service engineers and make them much more effective. The engineers can use an AR glass or a smartphone to get virtual step-by-step live instructions on how to perform machine repair and other maintenance tasks effectively. At the same time, the IoT can make the machines smarter, embedding sensors and intelligence that can monitor and generate data so that meaningful action can be taken on time in order to prevent any downtime. So IoT, coupled with AR has the potential to significantly enhance the overall aftersales manufacturing customer experience.

AR has already seen progression through Smartphones and going further AR eye glasses and lenses would be the next big thing to look forwards to. Hence looking at the current pace, the potential of AR seems enormous, as it seems we have barely seen of what’s possible.

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