Augmented Reality: Where Two Worlds Collide


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Recently, developers have been able to take virtual reality one step further through augmented reality. The new concept, dubbed AR for short, is a technology that combines both the virtual world with the real world in real time. While there are currently many uses for augmented reality systems, the most popular seems to be gaming, specifically Pokémon GO.

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Augmented reality has been able to build on concepts first introduced by its predecessor, virtual reality. The new technology is able to superimpose a computer-generated image on the user’s view of the real world, resulting a in a merged composite view. AR is seen as next-generation gaming where users are able to move around in the real world while simultaneously playing and being part of a game, something that was previously impossible with traditional video game consoles or even virtual reality systems, which require the user to be in one place at a time.

Pokémon GO is an augmented reality version of the popular Japanese game which originated as a trading card game in the mid-1990s, eventually evolving into handheld video games and now into an augmented reality game. The most recent version launched in the beginning of July 2016. Players are encouraged to walk around with their smartphones and capture computer-generated Pokémon in the real world using the camera roll and Google Maps location information. The application is able to use the phone’s GPS sensor to determine the player’s location and place computer-generated Pokémon along the route or in the general area. Often, players will form teams and travel together in search of Pokémon.

While Pokémon GO is currently one of the most popular uses of augmented reality, the new technology has several other far-reaching possibilities for business and industry. Some new cars have GPS systems that use augmented reality. The systems in these cars superimpose travel directions on an overhead map, or in some cases, on the roads themselves. The roads will have computer generated arrows, alerting drivers where to make turns in order to continue on their journey. Second, construction companies have been quick to adopt augmented reality in their businesses. Augmented reality helps construction companies visualize how a new building will look when finished, and helps workers understand the layout and building instructions. Third, is gaming. Pokémon GO might be one of the first games to use augmented reality but it certainly will not be the last. The concept of computer-generated games in the real world with peers is something that will resonate with gamers today, as shown by the download count of Pokémon GO in just over three weeks since its launch.

Despite being in its infancy, augmented reality is here to stay. Pokémon GO is the perfect example to show the potential of augmented reality in many different use cases. The popularity of the game, which has been available for just a few weeks, is remarkable for just a short amount of time. While it remains to be seen if augmented reality can have long-lasting results, it is safe to say our worlds have collided.

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