The Evolution of Augmented Reality (AR)

By 6 January 2016 No Comments

Augmented reality or AR can be simply defined as a technology that overlays a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world through a device, thus providing a complex, virtual view. As many people may not be aware, Augmented Reality (AR) has been experimented with since the 1960’s, starting with Ivan Sutherland’s “Head-mounted Display (HMD).” The invention was a large machine that allowed you to put wired spectacles in front of your eyes. The machine would then create the illusion that a 2-dimensional image was a 3-dimensional one.  HMD was too big to hold up to your face, so it had to be hung off the ceiling in order to use it. Taking from Sutherland’s lead, multiple scientists proceeded to play with AR, continuing to produce bulky equipment in the midst.

Coming into the 2000’s, Augmented Reality progressed from being a scientist’s toy, to being developed for consumers in the form of virtual video games. Taking part in one of these games, the player would be required to wear a “computer backpack” and fold over goggles. The implementation of AR into a real-time video game indeed made it more desirable as it was a more portable device. However, consumers expressed their discomfort while wearing the equipment. It wasn’t long after this that the employing of AR to more mobile means was discovered. AR software, such as “AR Tool Kit,” was developed to be able to be used via a desktop computer or any computer with a web camera.  Mobile apps trailed shortly behind this and there are now over 100 AR-based apps available for smartphones and tablets.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”][/youtube]
Since its’ initial trials, AR has grown from being used primarily for entertainment and pleasure, to becoming the latest business practise across various sectors of Canada’s economy. Retailers are experimenting with AR by using it as a channel for consumers to gain access to further product information. Some stores, such as furniture retailers, are using it as a way to help customers visualize a product within a certain space or in combination with other products – creating their own showroom. Apps such as Blippar are also helping implement AR into retail practises by making interactive product packaging. When scanning a smartphone or tablet over the packaging, a consumer will be given access to different games and coupons. Aside from retail, AR is also bringing positive changes to tourism and travel, financial services, construction and architecture, ICT, and much more.

Augmented Reality is being accredited with helping businesses over all sectors through learning, direction and creation. Its’ rapid fire growth will indeed change the way many Canadian industries do things, which will ultimately revolutionize Canada’s economy as a whole. To keep up with the pace of AR, its application in education should be highly considered.

ICTC is further exploring AR in education through a new pilot program with the aim of evaluating innovative approaches in media entertainment and storytelling among others. Stay tuned to learn more about the program.





ICTC’s Future of Interactive Learning (FOIL) initiative is made possible with project funding from the Canada Media Fund (CMF).