Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has rendered us helpless and confined to four walls of our home, living our spirit on the internet. These sentiments are common as songs like virtual reality by renforshort are a hit number these days, where she weeps about living her life chained to the internet for the past six months. Staying shackled to one’s laptop or mobile phone all day is another byproduct of Coronavirus. Hence gloom and despair are on the rise, so is therapy and counselling.
Medical experts say that a dream lifestyle with no masks, no coronavirus and no social distancing is away with the fairies. Zoom, Google meet, and MS teams have taken over the job of connecting people. This period even witnessed bizarre phenomena like virtual graduations, virtual conferences and virtual marriages. But users want more sophistication and ‘real like feeling’ while using these platforms, hence enter AR.
Augmented Reality is not a new thing for us because we all have witnessed 3-D athletes, 3-D animals, 3-D tiaras and makeup on Instagram and Snapchat et cetera. To enhance communication with workers and customers, large firms are now demanding AR technology. Firms that provide AR software and accessories reportEd a surge in demand for their products due to work from home.
What is Augmented Reality?
To augment is to add something to make it big. Augmented reality is a combination of digital information with the user’s surroundings. Augmented reality and virtual reality are different because VR creates an entirely new universe. Augmented reality adds only a few touches to the existing universe; hence AR feels more real.
Immersive AR combines computer elements in the real world using perspectives, convincing depths and other characteristics. It is like superimposing a component on the user’s environment. It is an interactive 3D experience that combines computer-generated elements with our environment in real-time. AR software will be smart enough to place its computer-generated elements in such a way that it promotes meaningful interaction.
What are the different applications of AR?
AR is valuable only when it can manipulate, understand and enhance the worldview of the user in real-time. AR tools are used actively in areas like retail, gaming and maps and navigation.
The best tool that AR provides in retail is the ‘try before you buy feature’. For instance, a person wants to get a pair of glasses from lenskart, the 3-D view of how each glasses would look on his face is provided by AR, which helps in increasing sales and customer satisfaction. It also reduces time, energy and cost as countless people can try the same glass simultaneously. It also eliminates the need for an extra salesman, extra stock and sometimes a showroom.
Yelp, a business directory uses AR to help people gather information about local businesses while viewing the neighbourhood on their phone. The feature would display nearby restaurants, cuisines, salons, public bathrooms, the distance between two spots, specialities; the list is endless. Mercedes-Benz is introducing a model which uses AR to display extra information on the windshield while we drive. It ensures the safety and faster working as the driver can drive and look for information simultaneously.
AR is revolutionising education and learning by introducing interactive and 3D content. A smartphone can scan a textbook to display extra information. It eliminates the need to type separately on the phone while studying for research.
AR has scope in the coming years to change the worker’s view of the field. If a worker is performing a maintenance task, the AR glasses can provide additional information on repair and damages, which will increase efficiency, effectiveness, safety, reduce cost et cetera. It’s so much similar to Iron Man’s visualisation when he wears the suit. BMW has introduced AR programmes on their assembly line.
In the entertainment industry, we all have used Instagram and Snapchat to make ourselves look prettier with different filters. Magic leap, an AR development company that spent $2.6 billion developing AR goggles is able to lure investors without ever launching a commercial product.
What are the different AR tools?
There are a bunch of AR tools, but few essential tools are –
AR.js is a library reading tool and brings AR to a web browser. It is primarily a marker-based AR content that works swiftly with Google‘s Tango.
Jeeliz face filter focuses on identifying faces and superimposing 3D content on them like artificial ears of animals, makeup, jewellery, dresses et cetera. It’s found on social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook et cetera. It is purely made for entertainment and fun.
Google AR has developed different browsers for android and iOS. These browsers can be installed via the play stores and App Store, respectively. It helps user to build 3D reality content on flat surfaces using our phones.
What are different companies that make AR technology?
Adloid Is a Gurugram-based firm that has been researching this technology for four years. They have their engine for AR, which is now in demand by companies like hero Motocorp, Asian paints, Tanishq, to name a few.
Hero Motocorp is using Adloid’s AR engine to digitalise its sales and training processes. The company’s owner and CEO Kanav Singla say that their AR engine can easily access smartphones and won’t require high processing powers. The demand for AR engine increased in January 2020 when work from home became a global norm.
Ad campaign of Tata Safari AR experience resulted in more than 1 million users in the first 15 days.
According to Singla, AR will be used in remote assistance, communications and manufacturing. Their AR search engine will be limited to phones because generally, users don’t go around buying specialised AR tools like goggles.
CEO of EyeWay vision Inc, which is a Silicon Valley based company, Dr Balram believes that goggles or AR glasses are feasible for a better user experience. The company has partnered with UpGrad, is researching ed-tech in India and their product is AR glasses. The user won’t have to take the phone out of the pocket to scan a book or an alleyway, he simply has to see and information will be superimposed.
EyeWay’s AR goggles will enable students to touch concepts with their hands, rotate them for better understanding. Their glasses will be a success because they won’t flood the user’s eyes with light. The glasses will use low powered lasers that will scan the images only on the eye. The laser will move where the eye moves so that the image moves with the eye.
It’s all a bit confusing but for better understanding, remember how Iron Man sees when he wears the suit, when he turns his eyes, the data moves along with it. According to Dr Balram, AR glasses will be the future of augmented reality. They will be similar to regular glasses but more immersive and user-friendly for interaction. He likes to call it the iPhone moment of augmented reality. But for users to touch and use these glasses is going to be a long wait.
Coronavirus has changed many norms of our daily lives, which paved the way for new inventions so that life can continue with ease. Artificial intelligence and IoT are integrating themselves into our daily lives with apps like NaadSadhana and LG thinq. Newspapers and tabloids are filled with breakthrough inventions in AI and how they can change our lives in future. Although these gadgets are in the distant future, continuous and comprehensive research and development with transparent data sharing will ensure that those days are preponed.