Augmented Reality (AR) has long been shown in science fiction action movies as Mission Impossible or James Bond. The main character uses smart glasses that show him the nearest exit, his target or where he should go. It is not science fiction anymore and it is spreading in various aspects of our lives. Augmented Reality refers to the technology of bringing digital object to person’s perception mixed with the real surroundings. It isn’t just simple display of data, but it is rather merging data with the natural environment through different sensations to appear as a genuine part of the reality. This includes multi-sensory interactions including visual, auditory and olfactory effects. It can also be enhanced by including any sensation that can be perceived by the body such as pressure, heat and pain.
Augmented reality has proven to be very useful in many fields. It has been used widely in commerce by famous companies to advertise and show their products in a more attractive way. In 2017, Ikea made the wonderful "Place" app. This app enables you to easily try their gallery in your house and see how it would look like. It includes more than 2000 items which is the complete catalog of their products. They are ready to be placed anywhere you want. Through AR, they made a huge difference in user experience in the furniture world.
In 2014, L’Oreal used AR in a huge marketing campaign for their products. They made "Genius Makeup" app. The user could easily try different styles of makeup using the app. L’Oreal has acquired Modiface company which is a leading AR beauty company. This company made beauty apps for Sephora and Estée Lauder. Modiface tech could show users immediately the effect of skincare on their skin immediately. L’Oreal used AR again in its seventh annual festival which was held in 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The visitors were able to view the visual art gallery of L’Oreal. They were asked to point their smartphones in David Pecaut Square to view and take images of L’Oreal products.
The festival was very special at marketing for the Lancôme brand. The places people aimed their mobile phone at were tracked. These data were used with the GPS data to create the first ever heat map logo. The resulting heat map was surprisingly Lancôme Rose, the logo of the brand. Pepsi used AR to make YouTube most viewed marketing campaign. They installed AR display in bus shelter. People could experience amazing AR by looking at the glass of the shelter. The glass was an installed display. People behind the display are processed to have lions running after them, swallowed by earth or attacked by aliens. Pepsi used AR to its ultimate benefit making people market for them by sharing their amazing experiences with these displays.
Timberland created its own clothes fitting room. Using Kinect, the app recognizes user’s face and show him/her the items on similar-sized body with his/her own face on it, saving the hassle of trying out and carrying many clothing items. Currently, Ray-Ban developed similar application to let users try on their glasses. Augmented reality technology is being used intensively in entertainment including TV shows and video games. For example, weather channel studios have implemented a whole new way of delivering their information. Instead of just standing in front of green screens showing the weather in the background, they now use AR to show virtual 3D tornados, to visualize the height of flood, or even to show how cars lose control on icy roads.
Video games entered the next era with AR. Pokémon Go that was developed by Niantic became one of the most famous games worldwide. The developers announced in May 2018 that the game was downloaded more than 800 million times with 147 million active users. Players create their avatar and compete to find wild Pokémons that are distributed in the players' real surroundings. In their journey, they also collect gyms and other items. Other companies have also entered this field. Disney cooperated with Lenovo to make Star Wars AR game. Other games include AR air hockey and Titans of Space, a game where people team up to fight against virtual AR enemies.
This is also not the end of the story. The world’s first gaming robot MekaMon is in development. This project is much like making kids imagination come to life. MekaMon will have numerous abilities and movements to fight against virtual enemies. Multiplayer mode is also available. The robot is controlled through smartphones. This game provides another aspect of AR to users. They can design their arena controlling different sizes, positions, health and damage of the enemies. The project is about bringing existing video games to AR world. For instance, in AR survival game, the user using the MekaMon robot fights against waves of increasingly intelligent AI enemies. Augmented Reality is a complementary part for modern education. Now there are books that support AR using markers in the book, they trigger the user’s device to show the 3D model. In chemistry, students hold markers indicating the name of some molecule and see its structure in space.
Construct3D is an AR system that was created to help in learning mathematics and geometry in an easier way. This system consists of head mounted display (HMD) and personal interaction panel (PIP) which is a two-handed tool to interact with the 3D model. This technology simplifies the interaction with the 3D object offering amazing experience to the user. Disney is now developing an AR app that enables kids view their favorite colored characters that they colored themselves into 3D model. This technology is still under development. It seems that the main driver for AR future is providing the user with easier and more fun experiences. The ultimate goal is making all the needed devices in the size of a contact lens that contains all needed electronics. Currently, it seems impossible to embed all these systems such as batteries, cameras and processors in just that small size. However, we might see just that level of technology coming to life in the coming years.