Augmented Reality: The Past, Present and Future Explained

Augmented Reality: The Past, Present and Future Explained

by January 21, 2021

Augmented Reality

Analytics Insight brings you an explained view of the past, present and future of augmented reality.

Augmented reality has jumped out of the sci-fi movies to a science-based reality. Earlier, the use of augmented reality was very less as the technology came at a high cost. Researchers were not getting the chance to experiment with augmented reality often. But today, things have changed. Augmented reality has invaded our daily lives through smartphones, PCs and laptops. The technology is expected to further unravel many possibilities in the future.

Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of the real physical world that is achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sounds, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. AR technology turns the environment into a digital interface by placing virtual objects in the real-time. It allows the users to place life-size 3D models in the physical environment with or without the help of trackers. Augmented reality browsers enrich user’s camera display with contextual information. Besides, AR technology is generally used in gaming to create an immersive gaming experience that utilizes the actual surroundings.

Starting from delivering interactive weather reports to helping fighter pilots find their targets both on day and night, AR has proven itself as a powerful aid for industry and the general public at large. This technology is anticipated to continue its growth even in software field by developing many more nestling projects and emerge into large-scale productions. Recent AR projects have proven to the world that the technology has a very good commercial value and future potential to stand out of other artificial intelligence technologies. The AR market size was estimated at US$10.7 billion in 2019 and is anticipated to grow to US$72.7 billion by 2024 with a CAGR of 46.6% during the forecast period. Analytics Insight brings you an explained view of the past, present and future of augmented reality.


History of Augmented Reality

The first conception of augmented reality occurred in a novel written by Frank L Baum in 1901. Baum portrayed a scenario where a set of electronic glasses mapped data onto people; it was called a ‘character market.’ After five decades, AR was achieved to some extent by a cinematographer called Morton Heilig in 1957. Heilig invented the non-computer controlled sensorama, which delivered sounds, visuals, vibration and smell to the viewer. Officially, augmented reality was invented in 1968 when Ivan Sutherland, a Harvard professor and computer scientist developed the first head-mounted display system called ‘The Sword of Damocles.’ The display system gave users the experience of real-world through a computer-generated graphic sensory perception.

In 1974, Myron Kruger, a computer researcher ad artist built a laboratory that was entirely dedicated to artificial reality. The laboratory named ‘Videoplace’ functioned at the University of Connecticut. Later in the 1980s and 1990s, augmented reality got out of the labs and started merging with real-world applications. Finally, Tom Caudell, a Boeing researcher coined the term ‘augmented reality’ in 1990. The first properly implied AR system was the one developed at USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab by Louis Rosenberg in 1992. The AR system named ‘Virtual Fixtures’ was an incredible complex robotic system designed to compensate for the lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power.

Soon after its debut in the real-world mechanism, augmented reality entered the commercial market. Volkswagen launched the MATRA app (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) in 2013. It primarily gave technicians step-by-step repair instructions within their service manual. In 2014, the tech giant Google unveiled its AI-powered Google Glass devices, which users could wear for an immersive experience. Microsoft also started shipping its version of wearable AR technology called HoloLens. However, AR technology became well-known in 2016 after the launch of Pokemon Go game. Pokemon Go reached a large group of gamers and skyrocketed to 45 million users the same year. Unfortunately, Niantic, the American software company that developed Pokemon Go has failed to maintain high-level engagement and lost its market. However, AR made its way into diverse industries despite being stagnant for a long time.


Present real-world applications of augmented reality

When AR entered the commercial space and into various industries, its applications got extended drastically. Today, AR is seen in every sector including gaming, healthcare, automotive, media, education, etc.

Healthcare industry is availing augmented reality to train medical students. Its features in healthcare range from MRI applications to performing highly delicate surgery. AR also helps doctors in surgery rooms by reducing the need for more traditional invasive cameras and probes. In the automotive sector, AR is used as an application to power the vehicles and connect with buyers. Porsche has a feature called ‘Tech Live Look’ that allows the company’s remote serving engineers to connect with Porsche Atlanta-based service headquarters and get real-time assistance. Harley Davidson has developed an app for its customers to let them view a motorcycle in-store and customize it on their phone.

Fortunately, AR ethics haven’t come to the stage of questioning yet. But things will change once the users reach a point where the image resolution and AR device becomes so effective that users forget what they are doing.


The much-awaited AR-powered future

Today, augmented reality is applicable in almost all industries. Remarkably, people using AR technology also give positive feedback regarding its real-world applications. They view AR as a positive and very transparent process in terms of delivering useful content. Front running tech companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. are availing AR-based software and applications. This will drastically increase the investment in AR technology. By 2022, AR-assisted training is expected to exceed the US$6 billion mark.

The future of augmented reality will emerge entwined with artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Already, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat use a mixture of AI and AR to produce fun filters. We will witness a lot of similar image enhancements in future. Augmented reality will bring an array of sophistication in the industrial aspect. Beyond 2021, we will see a swift growth of industries that use augmented reality to teach their employees and execute it in their everyday work. Furthermore applications are underway to make augmented reality streamline in near future.