AT AUGMENTEDPLANET.COM, I have been blogging about the rise in popularity of augmented reality
(AR) since April 2009. When I started Augmented Planet, the only augmented reality applications
available were either high-budget demos put together by creative agencies to wow their clients or
obscure demos created by developers experimenting with the technology. Since those early days,
Augmented Planet has documented the rise of augmented reality across the mobile industry and has
become the leading blog and news site dedicated to all things augmented reality.
It might surprise you to know that AR isn’t necessarily a new technology. You probably just haven’t
noticed it. AR has become popular of late because of iPhone and Android applications such as Layar
and Wikitude, two of the most popular mobile AR browsers currently available. They have helped
create the AR browser genre, propelling AR to the forefront of everybody’s minds and capturing the
attention of developers.
So what exactly is AR? In its simplest form, AR is the art of super-imposing computer graphics over
a live view of the real world. AR is used in graphics for televised sporting events, whereby real-time
analytical information about the game in progress is displayed on your television. It’s also used with
digital cameras that provide real-time information about the battery life, the number of pictures
taken, or the local environment lighting level. All of that information is conveniently displayed in
the camera’s digital display.
AR not only blends computer graphics with live video, it extends into the fi eld of image recognition
(for example, using a computer to recognize an image and then perform a visual search whereby the
image is compared to images stored in a database). For example, you might use your smartphone’s
camera to identify a wine label in your local supermarket. The image of that label is then compared
to images in a database and, once the matching image is found, that image returns purchase
information to you (such as customer reviews).
You might have already experimented with an AR browser on your smartphone that displays
information about your local surroundings in the phone’s camera window. These so-called browsers
display everything from who is tweeting nearby to the name of the building in front of you. And
it’s this type of application (along with image recognition and visual search) that will be explored in