““What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain,”” – Morpheus, The Matrix (1999).
And it’s as easy as that. Like plugging into The Matrix, or watching Tom Cruise slide images across a touchscreen (Minority Report, 2002), trying to fathom technology advances such as these seemed like the workings of a fantasy writer under the influence. Evidently, these fantasy worlds are a lot closer to our reality than we ever thought possible.
If you’ve ever spent time wondering how you can make your imagination or wildest dreams a reality, you’ve probably never been closer to the answer, than we are right now. Brilliant minds, with billions of dollars behind them, are working tirelessly on arguably the biggest technological push since the smartphone – virtual reality. But as we teeter on the edge of a virtual reality world, augmented reality (the addition of digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone) is becoming part of our everyday.
Augmented reality is transforming the way we work, learn and play. Redecorating your living room? AR can help you to ‘try before you buy’, ‘virtually’ putting furniture into your space to see how it looks and fits in your home (IKEA Place). Looking for fun ways to experience gaming beyond the screen – No problem. Last year, the world was captured by Pokemon Go, bringing virtual creatures to life in your local park, shopping centre or on your kitchen worktop.
AR is developing in literal leaps and bounds, carving the way for new concepts and everyday problem solving solutions, its even trending the way forward with customer engagement.
Google researchers have developed an Augmented Reality Microscope (ARM) that utilizes artificial intelligence to help physicians diagnose cancer disease in patients. This prototype can analyze biological tissue samples to automatically detect the anomalies caused by cancerous cells in the body. At present, the AR powered microscope is only capable of identifying breast and prostate cancer (Google says it will be able to diagnose other types of cancer too, once its AI model is trained for it) , but will help pave the way to faster and more effective diagnosis.
Launching April 2018, Fashion brand, Zara – the world’s biggest clothing retailer, announced its introduction of augmented reality displays in an effort to lure millennials into its stores. Don’t let the empty windows fool you, the AR features include showing models wearing selected looks from Zara’s latest ranges when a mobile phone is held up to a sensor within a store or designated shop windows. Customers can then click through to buy the clothes.
Gesture interface company Leap Motion has announced an ambitious plan for an augmented reality platform based on its hand tracking system. Although it’s still very early days, the concept designs are for a headset equipped with a Leap Motion sensor, so users could precisely manipulate objects with their hands.
The headset design uses two fast-refreshing 3.5-inch LCD displays with a resolution of 1600 x 1440 per eye. The displays reflect their light onto a visor that the user perceives as a transparent overlay. Leap Motion says this offers a field of view that’s 95° high and 70° wide, larger than most AR systems that currently exist.
Leap Motion will not be selling a version to developers at this point, but The company is releasing the necessary hardware specifications and software under an open source license with the hopes that the designs will inspire the growth of AR. “We hope that these designs will inspire a new generation of experimental AR systems that will shift the conversation from what an AR system should look like, to what an AR experience should feel like,” said Leap Motion.
For all the die-hard Star Wars fans, who have always wanted to play an iconic game of holochess with chewie, your wait is over, thanks to another bit of AR technology. Disney’s new game allows people to play the Star Wars’ Dejarik holochess game for free on iOS in augmented reality through ARKit, via 9to5Mac. The new game comes as an update to last year’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges AR game, which originally included holochess but required the purchase of hardware accessories. This is a great little distraction whilst on your way to work, A word of advice, though: “Let the Wookie win.”
The selfie culture is at epidemic proportions and with a plutheror of AR filters across SnapChat, Instagram and the rest, the trend is et to indure. You might be at home, but take a photo with a tropical AR filter and you’re on the beach in paradise. The essential face-mapping software embed in these apps enable you to attached sunglasses, masks, headpieces, you name it, with a touch of the button. Now, the iPhone X is about to join the party. Apple teased iPhone X-exclusive AR Snapchat Lenses at the phone’s launch event last year, last week, Snapchat finally releasing them.
Only iPhone X users will be able to see the three lenses currently available, thanks to the TrueDepth front-facing camera of the devices. These first lenses include a Mardi Gras-esque mask, a Day of the Dead skull, and a pretty gold-plated eye cover. These lenses are more tightly sticking to your face, particularly around the jawline, than previous filters. SnapChat says the lenses should reflect the surrounding light more realistically. It also says that the TrueDepth camera lets it blur the background in these lenses and accurately apply small details and 3D objects.
It really is as simple as that with AR. Put on a mask to instantly join Carnival with friends halfway across the globe. Or navigate complicated spaces without ever looking at a map. Now, you can do things you couldn’t imagine before using augmented reality, and discover new ways of doing the everyday.