If you’ve ever used a street view service to get to know a neighborhood before you travel, or an interior decoration app to see what furniture looks like in your living room, you’ve already experienced augmented reality (AR). In entertainment, there are plenty of AR examples: filters that alter the appearance of a person in a photo, games that blend real and virtual spaces, and apps that place virtual characters within a physical environment.
But what is AR for business?
It’s technology that meets specific business needs in a number of surprising and innovative ways. It’s also one of the pillars of Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution that’s transforming business just as previous revolutions have in centuries past.
Augmented reality definition
Augmented reality is an interactive experience that enhances the real world with computer-generated perceptual information. Using software, apps, and hardware such as AR glasses, augmented reality overlays digital content onto real-life environments and objects. This enriches the user experience and turns one’s immediate surroundings into an interactive learning environment which is particularly valuable in manufacturing and Industry 4.0 processes. It allows industrial users to become “one” with the systems and machines they work with, and to optimize and augment technology and IoT networks with human ingenuity, observation, and creativity.
How does augmented reality work?
Augmented Reality works by superimposing digital information onto real-world objects to create a 3D experience that allows users to interact with both the physical and digital worlds. But AR does not and cannot exist in a silo; its true value is in being part of a cloud-connected Industry 4.0 ecosystem that incorporates everything from big data to automated robots.
Here’s an overview of the augmented reality process:
An AR-enabled device with a camera such as smart glasses, a tablet, or a smartphone parses a video feed to identify a physical object or the environment around the user, such as a piece of machinery or the layout of a warehouse.
A digital twin – a 3D digital replica of the object in the cloud – connects the real and virtual environments. It collects information from the physical object and digital
The augmented reality device then downloads information about the object from the cloud. It superimposes digital information over the object using markers or trackers like GPS, accelerometers, orientation and barometric sensors, and more. This creates a part-real, part-digital 3D interface.
Thanks to real-time data flowing from products, the user can interact with the object or environment by moving around and sending commands to the cloud through a touchscreen, by voice, or with gestures.
What is mixed reality, or augmented reality vs. virtual reality?
While the differences between augmented, virtual and mixed reality are subtle, each type of technology interacts differently with the real and virtual worlds.
Virtual Reality: Virtual reality, or VR, removes people from the real world and fully immerses them in a virtual world using a head-mounted display or headset. In that virtual world of imagery and sounds, users can move around in all directions, manipulate objects, and more. VR is often used in healthcare, architecture, and education.
Augmented Reality: AR enhances, or augments, the real world with digital information. While augmented reality apps work through mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, in manufacturing and industrial settings where it benefits the user to have their hands free, glasses or headsets are the best gateways to the AR experience.
Mixed Reality: MR blends imagination and reality so that users can both see and interact with the real world and the virtual environment simultaneously. Think of playing a virtual video game while drinking real coffee and offering an imaginary character some of your coffee in your game – you’re mixing realities.
~ Manthan Raut (2nd Year)