Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Augmented Reality: What is it, and what can we do with it?

In the past two years we've seen an enormous boost in Virtual Worlds, using 3D visuals. They are not really 3D though, we've put the idea of a 3D environment into a flatscreen. Real 3D stuff is when you suddenly have holographic choppers flying around your head if you open up a lego box.

Below is a video of the BBC experimenting with Augmented Reality (and yes, it includes a chopper).

But what is Augmented Reality?

According to Wikipedia, Augmented Reality is...

Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data (virtual reality), where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time. At present, most AR research is concerned with the use of live video imagery which is digitally processed and "augmented" by the addition of computer-generated graphics. Advanced research includes the use of motion-tracking data, fiducial markers recognition using machine vision, and the construction of controlled environments containing any number of sensors and actuators.

Ronald Azuma's definition of AR is one of the more focused descriptions. It covers a subset of AR's original goal, but it has come to be understood as representing the whole domain of AR: Augmented reality is an environment that includes both virtual reality and real-world elements. For instance, an AR user might wear translucent goggles; through these, he could see the real world, as well as computer-generated images projected on top of that world. Azuma defines an augmented reality system as one that

  1. combines real and virtual,
  2. is interactive in real-time,
  3. is registered in three dimensions.
This definition is now often used in some parts of the research literature (Azuma, 1997).

But what is it to you? What do you see as augmented reality, and what use does it have? Does it have any use, or is it just a plaything? What do you think? What would be usefull deployment in your line of work?

Labels: , , , ,