Augmented Reality: Data, Space, Meaning…

Data Written Into Space Creates an Environment People Want to be Around

"action-adult-augmented-reality" by toptenalternatives is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

An Introduction to Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is an interactive experience that binds real-world surroundings with data that live beneath the code of our computers, iPads, and iPhones. This data is enhanced by technology therefore creating perceptual information that’s is seen through the screens we use every day. Mark Pesce (2020, Augmented Reality and Egoscanning) further describes augmented reality as a way of adding meaning and metadata to the world around us. This means that through screens, we can connect space into the video gaming world through planting data into that space (2020, Augmented Reality and Egoscanning). This is further reinforced by Harley, J., Lajoie, S., Tressel, T., & Jarrell, A. (2020) from their article about location-based augmented reality when they express that, “AR supplements reality (rather than replacing it like virtual reality [VR]) with digital information designed to be relevant to the activity learners are engaging in with an AR-supported device.”This is another way of conveying the idea that augmented reality adds meaning to an environment and therefore creates further engagement from the consumers.
This tweet shows us just one example of how AR can be used to create meaning in space and increase engagement for education purposes.

Augmented Reality Genesis and its ties to Historical Trends in Communications Media and Information Management

Throughout the history of augmented reality and virtual reality, these concepts were essentially seen as the same idea for years. The two terms made their split in the timeline when a computer scientist named, Ivan Sutherland, created the first head-mounted display called ‘The Sword of Damocles’ in 1968. This new technology created computer-generated graphics which enhanced their sensory perception of the world (Poetker, 2020).

In 1974, Myron Kruger, a computer researcher build a laboratory dedicated to artificial reality. Here he connected projection and camera technology to emit on-screen silhouettes which created an interactive experience for the users (Poetker, 2020).

In 1990, researcher Tom Caudell, coined the term ‘augmented reality’. Augmented reality took a turn in 1992 when Lewis Rosenburg, USAF researcher created ‘virtual fixtures.’ This system then fuzed with the US Air Force which lead the military personnel to control and guide the machinery through virtual means. This was one of the first fully functional augmented reality systems which intone made the training for Air Force pilots much safer when undergoing flying practices (Poetker, 2020). This new technology is a historical example of how information management was implemented in 1992 and continues to be implemented throughout history in 1999 when NASA built a new AR map display which showed map data on pilot screens, which allowed pilots to navigate with more precision during flights (Poetker, 2020).
In the 2000s augmented reality started to take shape. In 2013 Volkswagen used AR as a digital car manual. This added context to the directions of the manual by pointing a camera at the car engine with added digital instructions so that mechanics could see with more accuracy what needs to be done.

In 2014, Google launched its new AR glasses which created an immersive experience for users. This product flopped shortly after it launched as the technology wasn’t quite there yet (Poetker, 2020).

In 2016, augmented reality brought Pokemon Go to the population when over 800 million people downloaded it worldwide. The new AR technology changed consumer’s ideas about how the technology was emerging. Communications media is a way of using tools or outlets to store or deliver information and data. Niantic, the creator of Pokemon Go, found ways to inscribe meaning into space. They used communications media as a way to gather and deliver data to places of their choosing, which in turn drew masses amounts of people to these spaces.

pokemon go“pokemon go” by Paintimpact is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Niantic wrote data into space which gave them the ability to change the behavior of people in that space. People will react and act according to the data that has been inscribed into that area.”

Mark Pesce, 2020.

Key business in the field of Augmented Reality 

Alphabet is a key owner of businesses in the Augmented reality field, such as google. Mark Pesce (2020, Augmented Reality and Egoscanning) expresses that “augmented reality is a technology of surveillance.”

“Augmented reality systems must simultaneously act as very sophisticated surveillance systems. In order to add or remove information about the world, these systems must scan that world continuously, creating a very valuable stream of data about the places people go and the things that catch their attention.”

Mark Pesce, 2017.

Using this information we can gather that a huge company in the field of surveillance is google, more specifically, google maps. Google maps are constantly receiving locative data from people to better develop their map of the world. Pesce (2020, Augmented Reality and Egoscanning) further describes this point when he says that “any company that wants to build up resources and augmented reality has to build up their map of the world because these maps of the world are the way augmented reality works because they have to find out where people are playing to improve the user’s experience and interaction with the game.” From this information, we can see that maps and locative data it gives to these companies is what fuels augmented reality into what it is today. Through information gathered from where people are and what they do on the google maps platform, they can collect knowledge about popular places people hang out and other data to further inscribe meaning into those spaces which then persuades our behavior and reals us to these locations subconsciously, which continuously gives these companies a magnitude of data about people and improves their map of the world so they can manipulate our behavior to improve the engagement of these apps.

Augmented Reality’s effects in social and cultural terms

In social terms, companies associated with augmented reality and the consumers will both benefit from it, assuming that the consumers do not abuse their time spent on these applications from addiction. Chengbi Liu and Sven Fuhrmann (2018) in their article about fusing augmented reality and location-based social networks explain that “such location information adds a layer of spatial reality to people’s online social networks. As a result, location-based social networks enable us to be more informed of people’s behavior in society, and even predict spatiotemporal patterns of social events.” In simpler terms, this quote is telling us that companies can learn more about us through location-based social networks. This learned information then transforms sociality and social events into a better experience for people because of the extra details they know about us.

In cultural terms, augmented reality could be an amazing tool for the preservation of cultural heritage. In the article, ‘Augmented Reality for Cultural Computing and Heritage’ (Haydar, M., Roussel, D., Maïdi, M., Otmane, S., & Mallem, M. 2011) they have an idea using AR to offer new insights on the archaeological sites. “The base idea behind using AR techniques is to offer archaeologists and general public new insights on the reconstructed archaeological sites allowing archaeologists to study directly from within the virtual site and allowing the general public to immersively explore a realistic reconstruction of the sites.” This AR technology in a cultural context would benefit archaeologists, cultural historians, and the general public to gain further knowledge on the history of the chosen cultural heritage.

Below is a photo from the ‘Augmented Reality for Cultural Computing and Heritage’ article (Haydar, M., Roussel, D., Maïdi, M., Otmane, S., & Mallem, M. 2011) is an example of how the augmented reality tool selection would display. This allows users to interact with the augmented environment using tangible user interfaces.

Fig. 9

“AR VENUS tools” by Augmented Reality for Cultural Computing and Heritage.

Because this is all done in a virtual environment, nothing of historical value will be tampered with as it is all achieved by computer technology. Therefore people who lie close to the culture will not be aggravated with any physical tampering of the original artifacts.

To Conclude…

We can see that augmented reality is starting to have huge effects on any aspect of the world, some of these positive and some negative depending on what angle you look at it from. Is it a good or bad thing that Google is learning more and more about us every day we use locative data? Is it worrying or fascinating that these big companies have the power to change our behavior by writing data into space? Is it interesting or disruptive that companies have the technology to rebuild lost cultural heritage and artifacts so we can further our understanding of the history of said culture? These questions provoke an understanding of how augmented reality is learning and growing with humanity every day. Decide what you want from the AR that surrounds us today and be aware of where the future of the technology is heading.


Poetker, B. (2020). A Brief History of Augmented Reality (+Future Trends & Impact). Retrieved 25 October 2020, from

Harley, J., Lajoie, S., Tressel, T., & Jarrell, A. (2020). Fostering positive emotions and history knowledge with location-based augmented reality and tour-guide prompts. Learning and Instruction, 70.

Liu, C., & Fuhrmann, S. (2018). Enriching the GIScience research agenda: Fusing augmented reality and location‐based social networks. Transactions in GIS, 22(3), 775–788.

Haydar, M., Roussel, D., Maïdi, M., Otmane, S., & Mallem, M. (2011). Virtual and augmented reality for cultural computing and heritage: a case study of virtual exploration of underwater archaeological sites (preprint). Virtual Reality, 15(4), 311–327.

Pesce, M. (2017, December 1). The Last Days of Reality. Retrieved from Meanjin:

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Jake Blundell
About Jake Blundell 2 Articles
Bachelor of Design Computing, Sydney University. I love learning about social media and hope to continue it in the future.