FallenWriter · Aug 14, 2012 at 08:30 am

What Augmented Reality is and Why it Matters to You

Augmented reality is a term so many of us have heard, yet know so little about. When you ask someone what augmented reality is, their first reaction is usually to describe an application on their mobile device. Google touts its Project Glass as the next big thing in augmented reality and an innovation in the field. Even Apple has has a patent for “Peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays.” Yet with all of these happenings, no one has really sat down and explained what augmented reality is or why it can change the world.

What Exactly is Augmented Reality?

The first true mention of augmented reality is in L. Frank Baum’s novel The Master Key. Printed in 1901, the book mentions a “character marker” set of electronic spectacles that when you view someone through them would show a letter on that person’s forehead regarding their character (funny note, the protagonist actually makes a joke at the end of the story about this and other devices “being a century ahead of the times”). In other words, unlike virtual reality where your entire realm of sensory perceptions is replaced for interaction by an electronic device, augmented reality uses computer generated imagery and sounds to enhance the real world.

As technology has advanced and become focused on mobile development, augmented reality has become closer to practical use than ever before. A computer that used to require hardware the size of an arcade case to produce enough processing power for augmented reality, can now fit in the palm of your hand. Google Glass, while innovative in its design and features, is simply the next logical (and oldest) step.

Why Do We Need This?

While companies like Google choose to make devices that bring augmented reality to a personal level, there are literally hundreds of practical applications for it. BMW and Audi have both announced testing of AR devices that work with car windshields to assist the driver with traffic and weather reports. The United States military is working on systems that allow soldiers to be able to combine data from multiple viewpoints, to better assist in targeting enemies and wounded on the battlefield.

The medical field in particular has embraced this technology by taking it to the next level, which is known as mixed reality. Mixed reality combines virtual and augmented reality in a way that allows real and digital objects to interact with another. The important thing to note is that our lives can be greatly enhanced by the benefits of this wondrous idea that was first thought up over a hundred years ago.

A Sample of Current Technologies

While undergoing my normal trolling activities on the forum, I stumbled across a post in the Android Development section. It was from a user named Yelamos announcing a company named ARLab’s release of two SDK’s being made freely available for developers during their beta phase. Intrigued, I headed over to the website and discovered some pretty interesting development.

The first SDK available is the AR Browser. To quote ARLab, the SDK allows developers to, “Add augmented reality geolocation view to your Android or iOS application in less than 5 minutes.” In essence the application intercepts the feed from your camera during use and allows points of interest, animations, and social networking/sharing integration all at once on the screen. The uses for this, as you can imagine, are quite varied and allow for a rich experience while travelling both abroad and in your home town.

The second SDK available is Image Matching. Rather than viewing an image and then sending the data off to a cloud server somewhere to be analyzed, the analysis can actually be done through a database directly on your device allowing for a faster response time. From paintings to movie posters, this system has a strong chance of being used in places where people may see something and find it easier to simply take a picture of the item, letting the phone do the legwork for search, analysis, and identification.

Of course, the best part about the SDK’s is the extensive documentation and ease of integration into existing applications, which translates to a better experience for the end user. In fact, there are several more SDK’s coming in the next few months, so if you’re developer be on the lookout for those as well. You can find the current SDK’s here.

Integration, APIs, and Documentation

Despte this, many developers may not want to use the SDK for the products. They may just want to incorporate specific features into their build. For these folks, ARLab has gone a step further and made both the API’s and the documentation for them available. Even better is the fact that many developers who do work on Android also develop for the iPhone as well and ARlab has released their work for both platforms.

For those of you who don’t know, an API is simply a collection of data that tells software components how to interact with one another. An Application Programming Interface is crucial for standardization, and the release of API’s with documentation allows for easier integration of features into applications. Everything from YouTube to Google Maps has an API associated with it. So it makes sense for a company like ARLab to open them up for developer use. Interested? Head on over here for the Android API’s and have a look at them.

What the Future Holds

With features like geolocation, image recognition, and object tracking, it makes sense that augmented reality when combined with an Android device like Google Glass will make our world a better place. By combining our love for social media and need for knowledge into a streamlined set of packages for developers to use, ARLab is helping pave the way for a better integrated and interactive lifestyle. Hopefully some developers here on XDA will take advantage of this. If you are a developer and have something you’d like to share with the community, sound off in the comment section below; if you’re looking to read more about ARLab, have a look at their XDA announcement or their website.


_________
Want something on the XDA Portal? Send us a tip!
TAGS:

FallenWriter

FallenWriter is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. I am the Fallen Writer of XDA. I was a News Writer who was cast into exile for my sins. Now I have returned to haunt the forums of XDA with my writings. View FallenWriter's posts and articles here.
Mathew Brack · May 28, 2015 at 09:59 pm · 4 comments

I/O Summary: How Android M Handles Power And Charging

In the spirit of improving the core Android experience, Google is changing Android M to be smarter about managing power. Their new Doze feature comprises of two primary roles which allow Android to use motion detection in order to predict activity, and go into deep sleep at the right time based on accelerometer readings.   In order to extend your screen off battery life, Android M will now monitor your activity levels and if it detects that your device has...

XDA NEWS
Mario Tomás Serrafero · May 28, 2015 at 09:51 pm · 3 comments

I/O Summary: Google Photos App

At I/O 2015, Google tackled the information problem in mobile once more, this time through pictures: “how incredible is it that we all have a camera in our pockets at any moment? (...) These moments tell your story (...)[but] taking more pictures and videos makes it harder to relieve memories due to the sheer volume”. This is why they are revamping Google Photos and centering it around 3 big ideas:   Creating a home for all photos and videos that is...

XDA NEWS
Mario Tomás Serrafero · May 28, 2015 at 09:26 pm · 4 comments

I/O Summary: Development, Play Store, The Next Billion

VP of Engineering Jen Fitzpatrick began talking about what Google is doing to help “the next billion” come online. More and more people are getting their first smartphone, and for many people this first phone will be their first computer.   The majority of the next billion will be Android users and they “want to remove the barriers of smartphone adoption”. While there are huge displays of phones on sale, not all are able to run the latest and greatest...

XDA NEWS
Share This