What is AR and how does it work

AR denotes the concept of Augmented Reality. This is a relatively new technology that can be used to supplement the existing physical world with digital content using special software and gadgets familiar to us. It is often confused with virtual reality, but this is not correct. Virtual reality involves the complete immersion of a person in an artificially created world, while augmented reality is the overlay of digital data on the real world using special devices.

Despite the fact that the technology is more than 40 years old, for a long time most of us have come across AR only when watching movies using “computer graphics”, which is nothing more than one of the options for creating augmented reality.

With the growing popularity and frequency of use of personal PCs, laptops and smartphones, AR technology has gained a second wave of popularity. Due to the ability to use it on almost any device, the solution has found the widest scope – not only mobile game developers began to use the advantages of this technology, but also global giants like Google or IKEA, who managed to use it to create unique and, of course, useful applications for their users. 

Statistics also speak about the growing popularity of AR. So, if back in 2016 the volume of the global market for augmented reality technologies was only $419 million, by the end of 2021 experts predict a figure equal to $4.3 billion.  

Augmented reality technologies are in demand not only because of the combination of the real world with digital objects, which is itself quite significant, but also for the ability to provide this interaction immediately, in real time, as well as work in 3D format. These and other advantages of technology gave rise to its use in several areas of our lives at once.

Where is augmented reality used today?

Entertainment. The most extensive area where a variety of AR solutions are designed for a wide range of users, starting from a very young age. This is the use of visual effects in films, TV shows, games (it’s time to remember the sensational Pokémon GO), as well as the use of technology in attractions or quests related to the need to lay a route to move around the city or any other area.

Medicine. Currently, AR technologies in medicine are being developed in several directions at once. This includes preoperative 3D planning, navigation of organs and instruments in the process of intervention, and even special developments for people with certain conditions. For example, a device designed for people with hearing problems has already been introduced and is successfully operating. It takes sound information and processes it into a visual or text format.  

Industry. In the manufacturing sector, augmented reality can be used both at the stage of designing and presenting layouts, and at the time of direct operation of the equipment. One of the promising possibilities of this area is the repair and maintenance of complex equipment or the effective organization of the work of field employees at the facility through real-time communication with a specialist from anywhere in the world and visual prompts that pop up on top of the repaired equipment.

Sales. Quite often, augmented reality technologies are used to increase interest in products, create a show or an unusual product presentation. On the other hand, AR is increasingly used from a purely practical point of view. For example, the sale of books with QR codes has already been launched, allowing not only to read about an object or event of interest, but also to consider every detail or action of a character. When selling products, more and more customers are offered technologies right in the showrooms that allow them to customize colors and see all the functions of the product.

Logistics. To optimize logistics processes, solutions have already been developed that allow the operator to find the necessary product by building the shortest route to it. Installing special sensors and connecting them to a common system allows you to quickly take inventory and improve the quality of logistics services.

Education. With the help of augmented reality, pupils and students can study astronomy, observing a full map of the solar system right in front of them, or get acquainted with human anatomy, considering the structure and functioning of various organs or systems. When learning to play musical instruments using AR technology, you can view musical notes in real time.

Tourism. With the help of augmented reality, travel agents can not only demonstrate the resort of interest to the tourist in all its glory, but also provide useful practical experience before starting the trip. So, you can visually demonstrate the path from the hotel to a significant sight or show how and where to buy a ticket for the metro or the theater, show where the cafes with the most authentic cuisine are located.

Art. AR technologies have made art more accessible to ordinary people. They are actively used in architecture, visual and theatrical arts, allowing the visitor to learn more about the subject of art.