Have you seen or heard of any applications that images or videos pop up in front of you? Living in a world where people can interact with the items that are created in the virtual space was only possible in people’s imagination in the past. However, the innovation of augmented reality (AR) which connects the world and the virtual space applied in the everyday devices made this possible. Although it’s still a beginning stage of the AR technology applied to people’s everyday lifestyle, I believe it is the new crucial factor that will be used in the various commercial industry, making a more comfortable lifestyle through its various functions. So, who will be benefiting from the development of AR technology in this modern society? Let’s begin with the history of Augmented Reality.
History of Augmented Reality
The augmented reality is a technology that is developed from the virtual reality system as the electronic devices were introduced. It visualizes the digital features on the screen where people can directly interact with the created digital features through the camera or sensors. Hence, “AR presents a view of the real, physical world” (Singh & Singh, 2013, p. 6) by using computer-generated elements overlayed on the actual scene of the real world. The main difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is that while virtual reality let users experience fully the virtual world which makes it hard to differentiate the real and the virtual world, augmented reality let users experience in the mix of the virtual and real-world where the users can easily distinguish real and the virtual world.
In the early 1990s, the first fully functioning augmented reality device, ‘Virtual Fixtures’ was created by Louis Rosenburg. It was used to train US Air Force pilots where it provides an environment that they can feel that they are practicing in the actual environment. This interaction between the user and the digital features provides real-time feedback, making an enjoyable yet educating user experience. A photo of a person experiencing the device shows how the AR devices looked like in the past.
Smartphone with AR function
The AR system used to be limited in the usage of AR specialized devices. However, the evolution of hand-held devices such as smartphones, which are equipped with physical properties such as cameras and processors that “satisfy the requirements for an AR system” (Ko, Chang, & Ji, 2013, p. 501), allowed AR features to be used widely across the world. As smartphones are widely used to connect with people in society through an online network, the AR system is applied in the same communications media platform for an enhanced experience of this connectivity.
In the social networking services that use photos as the main medium for communication among friends such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories, the AR was introduced in the camera function where the users can interact with the filters that generate computer graphics on their phone through the camera. This had created an exciting way of communication encouraging many people to engage in the social network community. Hence, AR started to widely be used in promotion by inducing the natural participation of users, where they actively share their posts with their friends on social media. Recently, it was used to promote the awareness of covid-19 through Snapchat filters and stickers, spreading good hygiene practices. A Twitter post below by Laurie shows how this filters work.
Kudos to @Snapchat & @WHO for launching this new filter today to help people reduce their risk of #coronavirus infection. Please share it. #COVID19 #snapchatfilter (awesome job @sofiargross) pic.twitter.com/JYBE0aukHk
— Laurie Keith (@lauriekeith) March 13, 2020
Adaption of AR in industries
Referring to the estimation, the rise of the augmented reality system resulted in the boost of the economy and it is estimated to get bigger in upcoming years.
AR applications in Retails
This tremendous rise can be made as Augmented Reality can be applied to any type of business sector of retails, healthcare, and education where AR services had begun to develop. The virtual Fitting Technology allows the users to try on the virtual items before buying them, leading the users to get a sense of how the actual items will look like. It can be applied in retails of furniture using the application such as ‘IKEA Place‘ where the users can drop the selected product through a camera to check the size and design of the furniture whether it fits in the environment before purchasing.
The fashion accessories also can be applied for products like watches, shoes, glasses, and jewelry. They can be tried on users’ bodies easily just by displaying their hands, feet, and face on their phone camera. Using the AR application, the users can try out various types of items that look real on the screen. A video of the ‘Wanna Kicks’ application demonstrates the visualized AR shoes on the users’ feet, trying out different designs of the shoes easily just by swiping the smartphone. Try watching it to see how the AR technology has developed nowadays!
AR applications in Healthcare
In the healthcare sector, AR is applied to the medical devices that allow enhanced communication between the doctors and the patients. One of the examples would be ‘AccuVein’, which visualize the vein underneath the skin using the laser-based scanner. By displaying a real-time image of the veins, it provides essential information to look for suitable veins that are not visible with physical eyes to the doctors and nurses during surgeries or injections. Hence, the patients can receive better medical service by reducing the number of mistakes of finding the wrong veins for injection. See how it works through the video from AccuVein below!
With these possibilities, AR can provide a huge economic boost to countries and enhanced lives for the users in the society, resulting in benefitting every individual and enterprise in the community overall. However, few occupations might be interrupted by the rise of AR services. For example, experts on furniture or machine placement helpers, physical trainers, and teachers can be replaced with the work of an improved AR system in the near future.
Advantages of AR and how it affects me
With enhanced augmented reality technology, it provides a real-life object where I could directly interact with the object formed easily through a smartphone. I used to enjoy this amazing content which made me get interested in the study of design and I once imagined myself as designing virtual objects in the future. As a design computing student now, I could study the user experience in a better environment as Augmented Reality creates much more engagement of the users in both online and offline content. Especially in this current society where people have difficulties meeting one another, AR provides a way of interaction and communication to bring up user experience online that I can understand better their experiences.
Problems with AR
The current AR system can bring issues of fake news. Anyone can simply swap the faces of the people through deepfake applications and if that is believed to be true, the fake news will begin to spread as the real one. Programs and applications such as ‘DeepFace Lab’ and ‘Zao’ provide the users an easy way to manipulate deepfake videos. Try watching a video by Buzzfeed below where manipulating one’s face seems a piece of cake. This deepfake is made simply through face recognition applied on the face of the others, creating realistic news and videos that people might get easily tricked. This fake news can bring me to understand wrong information which might affect my studies badly when researching certain topics.
The augmented reality platform must be associated with the camera application for real-life interaction. This can arouse several issues in the communication platforms. The AR in social media is widely used to spread messages to friends through pictures of users with AR filters and stickers. Here, I propose a similar question to Mark Pesce, what if this technology is used for someone “to act badly?” (Pesce, 2017) It can be used to spread wrong or misleading information that can affect the people living in the same society. Learning and analyzing the user experience through social media, this information can hinder and disrupt the analyzed data, making it hard to come up with accurate data.
In conclusion, the increased usage of the augmented reality applied in modern technology benefited the industries of various sectors and consumers at the same time, leading to an increase in the economy worldwide. With this innovation, the ordinary internet users can experience a better and convenient lifestyle by having a better communication platform to be connected with people worldwide without meeting them physically, having a better learning environment with visualized objects, and having a better shopping experience with virtual product tryouts.
@lauriekeith (2020, March 14). Kudos to @Snapchat & @WHO for launching this new filter today to help people reduce their risk of #coronavirus infection. [Twitter post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/lauriekeith/status/1238583237154242560?s=20
AccuVein. (2019, October 28). AccuVein AV500 Vein Wipe [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/X-cYFwsUb9U
Augmented Reality. (n.d.). Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://www.accuvein.com/why-accuvein/ar/
BuzzFeedVideo. (2018, April 17). You Won’t Believe What Obama Says In This Video! 😉 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/cQ54GDm1eL0
Hall, S., & Takahashi, R. (2017). Projected VR/AR growth, 2016-2025 [Graph]. Augmented and virtual reality: the promise and peril of immersive technologies. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/augmented-and-virtual-reality-will-change-how-we-create-and-consume-and-bring-new-risks/
Ikea App Page. (n.d.). Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://www.ikea.com/au/en/customer-service/mobile-apps/say-hej-to-ikea-place-pub1f8af050
Ko, S. M., Chang, W. S., & Ji, Y. G. (2013). Usability Principles for Augmented Reality Applications in a Smartphone Environment. In C. Stephanidis & G. Salvendy (Eds.), International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 501-515). doi: 10.1080/10447318.2012.722466
Pesce, M. (2017). The Last Days of Reality. Meanjin. Retrieved from https://meanjin.com.au/essays/the-last-days-of-reality/
Singh, M., & Singh, M. P. (2013). Augmented Reality Interfaces. In G. Pallis (Eds.), IEEE Internet Computing (pp. 66-70). doi: 10.1109/MIC.2013.107
WANNABY. (2020, February 17). Wanna Kicks on Android [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/02e20PkYeXQ