What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.
Types of AR
AR enthusiasts agree there are 5 types that might fall into categorization:
- Projection based AR
as the name clearly says this type of AR projects digital images on physical objects in the physical space. It can be interactive and project a digital keyboard on your desk, or a dialer on your hand. It might be non-interactive and it can be used to create projection of objects that you can position and see in depth – for example, it might show you if your future fridge will fit into that space you have near the oven by projecting the fridge in front of you.
- Recognition based AR
Whenever you scan a QR code, or scan an image and it comes to live (just like in iGreet cards) you are actually using a recognition based AR. This how iGreet works – the AR app detects and recognizes something called AR marker. Once it recognizes the marker, it replaces it with a corresponding object. Another type of recognition based AR tech is the one that translates words seen through the camera. This type of AR also seems to be the most widely used one – along with the next one.
- Location based AR
Location based AR is taking advantage of the smart devices’ location detection features. If you’re a traveler and you want to discover new great places, this method will use your location by reading your smart device’s GPS, compass and accelerometer and give you relevant information about what you’re looking for on your screen.
- Outlining AR
The line here is a bit blurry – outlining AR uses object recognition to work, and might look a bit like a projection based AR. For example, whenever you’re parking your modern car in the dark, outlining AR recognizes the boundaries of the road and outlines them for you. This method can also be used in architecture and engineering to outline buildings and their supporting pillars.
- Superimposition based AR
Superimposition based AR also uses object recognition in order to replace an entire object or a part of it with an augmented view. For example, if you’ve ever played FPS games, you know how your soldier may have advanced military equipment showing infrared view, night vision, radioactive view, etc. – this is all superimposition based AR. Also, in medicine, a doctor can use this technology to superimpose an X-ray view of a patient’s broken arm bone on a real image to provide a clear understanding of what the bone’s damage actually is.
Augmented reality SDKs
A software development kit (also known as devkit) is nothing else than a package of software development tools. AR developers need it to make applications by using completed solutions. SDK helps and simplifies the coding phase, especially with AR development, to avoid writing steps from scratch. Popular SDKs to develop augmented reality mobile apps are the following:
- Vuforia: It seems like Vuforia is the most popular SDK around the globe. It provides AR developers with powerful and comfortable tools. By using Computer Vision tech it provides the possibility to recognize and track target images. As a result, the app may project 3D objects or Media in real-time. Moreover, Vuforia has one of the best characteristics for the minimal angles of the marker recognition algorithm. It also has the minimal requirements for tracker visibility of overlapped targets. Besides, the stability of immovable and movable markers is the best among other SDKs.
Supported platforms: Android, iOS, UWP and Unity Editor.
Wikitude SDK 6. Implements the following functionalities:
- image recognition
- tracking (combines top-notch image recognition and tracking)
- 3D tracking technology (SLAM-based)
- GEO Data (improved working with geo-referenced data)
- Cloud recognition (allows to save the image databases in Cloud for identification).
- Improved Extended Tracking
- Advanced camera options
Supported platforms: Android, iOS, Smart Glasses.
EasyAR is a free and easy to use alternative to Vuforia.
Supported platforms: Android, iOS, UWP, Windows, Mac and Unity Editor.