Augmented Reality (or AR) is the technology that layers computer-generated imagery on top of an existing reality giving us the ability to interact with it. It differs to virtual reality in that VR blocks out your reality in its entirety and replaces it with a virtual one. AR, funnily enough, augments your reality and allows you to see both virtual reality and your actual reality at the same time. For example, through your tablet, you could see an animated dragon sitting on your kitchen table.
AR is developed for apps and used on mobile devices to blend the digital world with the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily. It was Pokémon Go and Snapchat that brought AR to the mainstream, but it has been used for years in manufacturing, marketing, publishing and training.
From marker-based and markerless AR to projection-based and superimposition-based AR, augmented reality technology is developing and the market is growing. We've seen augmented reality experiences used by the Brit Awards, Yorkshire Tea, Fanta and Ikea and in 2018, East City Films worked with Trigger Global and Royal Caribbean Cruises on an augmented reality application to use onboard their new ship, the Celebrity Edge.
It is becoming more and more common for AR to be used in conjunction with headsets such as the Hololens or Magic Leap. Although strictly called mixed reality or MR (depending on who you talk to), this is an augmented reality activated through glasses a little lighter and less cumbersome than a VR headset. It is still early days for MR and the aforementioned MR hardware, but it is an exciting technology in which we are spending time in research and development.
With virtual worlds, immersive technology, 3D modelling, and virtual objects very much in our lexicon augmented reality production, AR apps and mixed reality is our future, as much as it could be yours.
If you’ve got an interesting project which might involve AR in mind, we’d love to hear from you.