Augmented Reality: Fantasy from reality

There’s been a lot of chatter in tech blogs recently about the rise of augmented reality (AR). Until recently, most of the discussion has been about the potential of this technology. But in the next five years, Juniper Research predicts that the segment will grow into a $1.5 billion industry, from just $2 million in 2011. Since much of that growth will come from 5 to 9 brands, travel, leisure and attraction brands that help people enjoy their free time,CCT has taken a special interest in this technology. To get you up to speed on this emerging technology, we’ll try to answer several questions everyone’s asking about AR.

Question 1: What exactly is augmented reality?

AR is computer-generated content superimposed over a view of the real world. Many AR developers say an experience needs to have several attributes to be defined as AR:

  • It must combine the real with the virtual.
  • It must be interactive in real time.
  • It must register in 3D.

Question 2: In what ways can AR be displayed?

In order to place a layer of virtual information over your view of the real world, you need some type of device to display that information.  Currently, there are at least three ways of doing that:

  1. Head Mounted Displays or HDMs.
  2. Digital Projection
  3. Smart Phones and other Handheld Devices

Question 3:  How much does the typical AR project cost, and how long does it take to implement?

A simple project can take as little as 4-6 weeks, and a more complicated one 3-6 months. Costs can range from $10,000-$250,000 per project depending on the complexity of your request. But clearly, the cost of implementing an AR app, game or experience has dropped significantly in the last two years and will drop even further in the next five years.

Question 4:  How are 5 to 9 brands using AR?

If you Google “augmented reality” or search for it on YouTube, you’ll quickly realize there are an endless number of ways companies are already using augmented reality. But the best way to understand how big a future AR has is to look at all the iPhone and Android developers who are incorporating this technology into their apps. In the iPhone store alone, I counted 500 AR-enabled apps before my thumb got tired of pressing the “Show 25 more” button. Here are three of my (many) favorites:

1. Snapshop Showroom
This iPhone app lets you visualize what new furniture would look like in your own home.

2. AR Car Finder
If you’re one of those people who forgets where you park, you are going to love this app!

3. AR Invaders
Are you a gamer who wants to merge your virtual and real worlds? Yoou’ll love how this game uses your local surroundings as the backdrop.

Those are a few AR-enabled apps. Now here are a few of my favorite videos demonstrating various AR-enabled technologies:

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