Augmented reality is a layer of elements in the real, physical world that is enhanced by computer-generated input. These inputs may involve sound, video, graphics and much more. The “Augmented reality” concept first occurred in 1901, in a novel by Frank L Baum. In which a set of electronic glasses mapped data onto people and was called a “character marker”. Augmented reality is not a myth or a concept anymore, it is driving its way to change the world.
However, a small start of augmented reality was achieved by a cinematographer called Morton Heilig in 1957. Heilig invented the Sensorama, which had additional data to experience and was delivered by producing visuals, sounds, vibration and smell for the viewer. Augmented reality grew here on, and in 1968, Ivan Sutherland the American computer scientist and an early internet influencer invented the head-mounted display. It was like a window into the virtual world. The way the technology was designed, however, made it impossible for mass use. Looking forward to 1975, Myron Krueger, an American computer artist introduced the first “virtual reality” interface in the form of “video place” which allowed its users to manipulate and interact with virtual objects and to do so in real-time. Then came Steve Mann, a computational photography researcher who brought the Wearable computing into the world in 1980. However, the terms were different and were not called “virtual reality” or “augmented reality” because these terms were coined by Jaron Lainer in 1989 and Thomas P Caudell of Boeing in 1990 respectively.
The AR system developed at USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab by Louis Rosenberg in 1992 was the first, properly functioning system and was called Virtual Fixtures. This was said to be an incredibly complex robotic system that was designed to compensate for the lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power. It improved human productivity in the workspace. Augmented reality kept on making its identity and the most notable ones are as follows:
· Bruce Thomas developing an outdoor mobile AR game called ARQuake in 2000
· ARToolkit (a design tool) was made available in Adobe Flash in 2000
· Google with its open beta of Google glass in 2013
· Microsoft’s augmented reality support and their augmented reality headset HoloLens in 2015
Augmented reality has grown to be a massive success to people and businesses implementing it. It can be achieved through a variety of technological innovations. Either by implementing on their own or having a combination of two innovations to create an augmented reality environment. These include:
· General hardware components
· Sensors and input devises
Developing software to take advantage of hardware capabilities is a major development technique for AR. There are apps available for research of AR in nearly every industrial sector including:
· Archaeology, Art, Architecture
· Commerce, office
· Construction, Industrial Design
· Education, Translation
· Emergency Management, Disaster recovery, Medical and search and rescue
· Games, Sports, Entertainment, Tourism
We tend to agree to Jessica Lowry, a UX Designer who is writing for the Next Web as she says that AR is the future of design. Mobile devices have already become a major part of our lives as if they are an external attachment of our bodies. As technology can be further integrated into our lives without being intrusive, it is certainly that augmented reality provides opportunities to enhance user experiences beyond measure. UX designers in the AR field will have to find ways to enhance traditional experiences with the aid of AR. The future will belong to AR when it improves task efficiency or the quality of the output of an experience for the user. This is the key challenge of the 21st century UX profession.
Augmented reality has gone from a concept to reality in just over a century. To date, there are still many AR applications in use and/ or under development, however, the concept will only excel universally when the UX designers find a way to apply AR in peoples’ daily routines to improve productivity, efficiency, and quality of experiences. There are unlimited obstacles for AR to break, the big question is- how?