How many of you played Pokemon Go during the summer fo 2016?
Other than representing a return to childhood for a lot of people, this app takes advantage of a technology that is slowly yet deliberately getting a foothold at every technological level: the augmented reality.
But what is augmented reality?
According to Wikipedia, augmented reality means “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data.”
Basically it consists of a web-based technology that permits the superimposition of both real and virtual images (using the so-called overlay) in the user’s vision, thus avoiding that they have to divert their gaze to obtain more information: the data, indeed, are alla visible.
It’s important not to confuse augmented reality with virtual reality: the last one doesn’t add any elements to the view, bur rather it creates a totally artificial environment, using computerized technologies to make it believable and to give the impression to truly be immersed in a real scenery (try thinking about flight simulators or visors for video games).
Before making its entrance in the apps for smartphones, tablets or PCs, augmented reality has been used in other settings, especially the military one. In the air force it has been introduced in combat aircrafts with the use of HUDs (Head Up Display) to show pilots flight data in order to avoid to having to divert the gaze.
The first app to take advantage of augmented reality was Layar, a reality browser which, thanks to the data given by the GPS and to the use of the accelerometer, permits to obtain in real time informations about the surrounding environment only by aiming the photo camera to the object in question.
The big names in computer science are all investing in this technology: from Google Glasses (which, other than making loots of information accessible, are also connected with the smartphone, thus permitting a high and complete interaction) to Microsoft Hololens (that use hologram technology) or to Sony SmartEye Glasses.
It’s clear that augmented reality has multiple and completely innovative applications in different sectors: let’s think about an interior designer who can show in real time how different kind of sofas look if placed in a room, or how much a tour in a museum or in an art gallery can be enriched.
Augmented reality allows to add and incredible an customizable quantity of information for the client, for example data about items for sale in supermarkets (seeing in the products on sale in a pinch or pinpoint the food without a certain kind of allergen), or the machinery structure and composition in order to facilitate its technical interventions or its operation.