The Rise of Augmented Reality

A new year, a new list of virtual advancements we’re going to have to start getting used to. Amongst the plethora of technological advances heading our way in 2018, the idea of augmented reality (AR) appears to be one of the more exciting. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality is more useful and functional in our everyday lives. If you’re like me, and the thought of sitting through an entire conversation centred around the topic on technology has you wishing for an early death, I hope this piece will have you feeling a bit more at ease with the idea of AR.

At the very heart of its definition, AR is an enhanced version of reality, marrying the real world with elements of the virtual world. The idea behind this futuristic – which isn’t at all futuristic these days – concept is to superimpose a virtual reality onto our existing reality in order to improve and assist our perception of the environment around us. Having recently acquired an iPhone 8 and having absolutely no clue about how 90% of its features work, the idea that I’m in possession of a tool whose powers outweigh those of mere mortals is very real. But it is these little handheld devices that will be the pioneers of augmented reality. As I’ve said, I’m still coming to terms with the notion that someone had the crazy idea to sell an iPhone 8 to me without knowing the extent of my mobile device knowledge. Which is quite tiny.

Following an article written by Raymond Wong for Mashable last year, the iPhone 8’s “trump card” could be its accessibility to augmented reality, what with its 3D sensors and dual-cameras. Although techies make a big song and dance about augmented reality, it’s relatively simple. Augmented reality aims to enhance our physical reality, not alter it. Applications such as GPS – which has been around since 1973, by the way – are, in essence, augmented reality. GPS was developed by the US military in the early 1970s and became fully functional in 1995, eventually becoming available for personal use from the early 2000s. Using GPS as a relatively straightforward example, it’s easy to see how augmented reality is here to give us a hand. GPS has afforded us the capability of following a map at the same as we’re driving, without even lifting a finger (a simple tap will do).   

Want to bet you’re more unaware of your immersion in augmented reality than at first glance? Ever heard of a little thing called Pokémon Go? Augmented reality. Snapchat? Augmented reality. Instagram too. Oh, and Tinder? Believe it or not – augmented reality. Many apps in development today are making way for AR technology and I, for one, am really excited about it.

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