AR a Leap into Darkness, MUXL Blog

Augmented reality (AR) is a direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are ‘augmented’ and computer generated with the inclusion of extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics and or GPS data.

AR enables interaction through enhancing the users (perception) of reality whereas, in contrast, VR replaces the user interpretation of the real-world into a computer simulated one.

Both of these technologies and terminology are often bundled together but actually work and operate quite differently especially when the user interaction is concerned.

AR now has been with us since the early 90’s starting with Virtual Fixtures system developed U.S. Air Force’s Armstrong Labs in 1992.

Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. Due to significant hardware advances and advances in computing power with faster processors, AR is more accessible than ever, via a mobile device.
In summary and historically AR was reliant on:

  • Hardware;
  • Display;
  • Eyeglasses;
  • HUD (Head-up display);
  • Various sensors.

The fact that mobile devices have become increasingly powerful, has replaced much of the above, enabling a compelling user experience which is immersive and impactful.

Augmented Reality presents many interesting possibilities, in particular within the mobile context. Significant organisations are doing very interesting things and exploring the medium. Apple recently announced ARKit at the last annual developers’ conference, set to be a new framework for AR Apps.

However given the large app-based community within IOS this is set to be a game changer, given the distribution of tablets, mobile devices and a large volume of users, with also factoring the contracts within the educational sector Apple operates it seems like a natural progression.

Not surprisingly Google has also recently launched ARCore for android users too. The fact that these two giants have heavily invested in AR and hardware is beginning to improve sparks the race of a mobile AR platform war.

Currently, there is an abundance of secrecy from the digital agencies and tech start-ups surrounding AR within London. Communities are beginning to work in isolation given the potential for financial incentive, its all becoming very secretive and proprietary, with a race to get their first. Given the technological advances have often come from
a more open model towards computing, hopefully, this will transpire to AR.

At Westminster Interactive Media Practice Masters our students are working on producing the next generation of AR applications. Some of the work can be described as pioneering being early adopters of AR and VR, through our purpose built R&D labs and interdisciplinary approach.

The talk will highlight obstacles for design and development within AR, also presenting some case studies with a live demo – if we get time.