Augmented reality or AR is both a concept and an actual technology that involves providing its users with an interactive computer-generated perceptual information and experienced placed on top of a real-world environment.
When compared to virtual reality or VR that draws users into an artificially produced virtual or simulated environment, AR simply augments or supplements the existing natural environment with computer-generated perceptual information, thus overlaying the real world with digital elements such as graphics, haptic feedback, and other sensory feedback.
The Pros: Advantages and Applications of Augmented Reality
Central to the advantage of augmented reality is that it enables more interactive and richer human-to-computer and computer-mediated human-to-human interactions than conventional interfacing, thus translating to more specific beneficial applications.
One of the specific advantages of AR is that it expands the features and capabilities of computers and other consumer electronic devices such as smartphones, gaming consoles, and wearable technologies, among others. AR improves the user interface of these devices and enriches further the user experience.
Compared to virtual reality, another specific advantage of augmented reality is that it does not replace the natural environment with a simulated one but simply supplements reality, thus bringing the component of the digital world into the perception of the real world.
The aforementioned general advantages translate to even more specific beneficial applications. Take note of the following:
1. Learning and Instruction
Augmented reality can improve the learning environment by making the entire learning experience more immersive, thus encouraging better participation and collaboration between learners and instructors. Note that through AR, learners can become active participants rather than mere passive recipients of instruction because it allows them to interact with knowledge.
Some examples of AR applications in the learning environment include driving and flight simulation training, visualization of anatomy for biology and medical classes, laboratory exercises and experimentations, and design activities in engineering and architecture, among others.
2. Communication and Interaction
Remember that the primary benefit of augmented reality is that it introduces a new way for computer-mediated human interaction. Instead of merely calling one another or sending text messages via SMS or chat apps, AR makes communication more interactive.
The aforementioned have specific applications in wireless communication and other situations. As an example, remote collaboration becomes more immersive through the addition of digital elements. Distanced communication can be supplemented by graphic images overlaid in front of the participants to aid verbal communication. Note that social networking sites such as Instagram and Snapchat have used AR to make sharing videos and photos more visually appealing.
3. Business Improvements
AR has several beneficial applications in business settings. For example, it can allow product developers to see and experience the mockup design of a product before its completion. Because of its applications in instruction and interaction, it can also be used to improve workplace environments. As an example, AR can be used to promote remote work and collaboration between distanced team members.
Retailers can also benefit from AR. For examples, clothing retailers using AR can allow their customers to try on various clothes or accessories, thus creating a visual dressing room. The same is true in furniture retail that can overlay a piece of furnishing in a real home or office space to help a consumer decide if he or she wants to buy the product or not.
4. Navigation and Tourism
The ability of AR to place digital elements on real environments can supplement navigation, as well as tourism. Live visuals on actual locations can be overlaid with map data such as visualized directions and markers. In vehicles, information such as map data, traffic status, weather, and terrain can be displayed on the windshields of cars.
Government tourism agencies and companies can use AR to promote a particular spot. In an actual location, travelers can be presented with sensory information that can simulate historical events or render objects to improve their overall experience. Using artificial intelligence, specifically natural language processing, tourists in a foreign country can use apps on their smartphones that can translate texts in their language real-time.
5. Immersive Video Gaming
Take note that another advantage of augmented reality is that it provides enables more interactive and richer human-to-computer. AR simply provides additional input-output features to video games, thus making the gameplay more immersive and interactive.
Games such as Pokémon Go and Star Wars: Jedi Challenges have demonstrated how AR can allow video game players to experience digital gameplay in a real-world environment. Essentially, the technology mixes the virtual world of games with the natural world, thus providing a more realistic gaming experience.
The Cons: The Disadvantages and Risks of Augmented Reality
The fact that augmented reality distorts the real world while also depends on the generation and distribution of data in the form of computer-generated perceptual information and user-generated feedback information have raised several concerns. Consider the following:
1. Issues About Privacy
One of the drawbacks or disadvantages of augmented reality is that it is based on the collection, analysis, and redistribution of different types of data, particularly through the application of Big Data, thus raising concerns over privacy and security. For example, some AR devices record the environment in real time. Recording can create potential legal concerns.
Some AR systems also collect and analyze information about their users such as biometric data and device usage history, among others. With more stringent data protection laws, such as the GDPR of the European Union, there is a need for developers of these systems to follow standards regarding data usage.
2. Dangers of Reality Modification
AR blurs the line between the real world and the digital world. Hence, another drawback or disadvantage of augmented reality centers on possible dangers that come from reality modification. As an example, the introduction of Pokémon Go game has created controversy due to associated accidents and even deaths. Overlaying digital elements on the natural environment masks real-world dangers and make users less cautious.
The dangers of reality modifications necessitate the creation of standards. Developers should not overload their AR systems with digital elements. In addition, there is a need to educate users to tell them not to become overly dependent on AR to the point that they become passive toward important cues from the real world.
3. Implementation Requirements
Although business organizations, learning institutions, and other organizations can benefit from using augmented reality due to its numerous advantages or beneficial applications, developing and implementing an AR system is both costly and technologically taxing. Not everyone has the capability to do so. Thus, in the context of business, smaller firms can be at a disadvantage because of their lack of resources.
Take note that AR also requires new technologies and models. Smartphones need capable processing capabilities to run AR applications smoothly. Developments in AR also depend on developments in artificial intelligence technology, especially specific AI forms such as machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision, among others.