Monday, November 7, 2011

Augmented reality blooms with smart devices

The smart age has put the spotlight on augmented reality technology as a future cash cow.

Augmented reality combines virtual and digital information with the real-life environment to create an image. Unlike virtual reality which only shows simulated surroundings, augmented reality adds computer-generated aspects to reality, blurring the line further between what is true and what is not.

When using a navigation system, drivers can become confused as it isn’t easy to read a map while driving. A navigation by Pioneer, a Japanese company, minimizes such confusion by utilizing augmented reality.

It has a camera linked to the navigation system. On the screen is the front view from the car as seen through the camera in real-time. The map is combined with the actual surroundings so drivers can easily identify their route.

The same is true for map services for pedestrians. As the user points the smartphone in different directions, the information on the restaurants, hotels, and buildings being viewed, pop up like digital signboards. As the buildings are shown as they really are, it is easy to find the desired destination.

Patent filings related to augmented reality have been rising rapidly.

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, applications for patents related to augmented reality increased to 318 last year from nine in 2006. Augmented reality, which needs technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), acceleration sensors and a digital compass, has advanced in pace with the greater use of smartphones. “The technology factors of augmented reality are quickly being included in mobile devices, which have become smaller and more widely available. Cameras, GPS, sensors and multimedia chips for complicated video processing are basic features of smartphones. Mobile Internet also makes it easier to access information,” said Hong Il-sun, a researcher at LG Economic Research Institute, in a report.

Diverse use of technology

“Augmented reality changes how users receive information,” KT Technology Institute said in a report. Previously, they had to search by inputting text through a browser, but now the visual object is searched for via a camera or video.

The market is expected to see quantum growth, from less than a $2 million market in 2010 to $730 million in 2014, the report added citing data from Juniper Research.

Businesses are eyeing the technology for marketing purposes. Kwangdong Pharmaceutical recently launched an augmented reality service to advertise its Vita 500 drink.

After downloading the Vita 500 application, the user has only to scan the augmented reality marker on the bottle. Then the smartphone will show a member from girl group Girls’ Generation performing a song and dance. It would appear like she is performing on the palm of your hand.

Games are also implementing the technology. As a real-life space is captured on the camera, it can be used as the backdrop for a game, increasing the sense of reality and immersing players more deeply. It is being applied in the medical sector as well. Doctors can obtain information on patients or the exact location of operation in real time.

According to the report by KT, the new technology is being employed in industries to enhance productivity and quality. BMW provides its technicians with details of car repairs through text, 3D content and voice through head-mounted displays.

Boeing is enhancing effectiveness and preventing mistakes in the assembly of electrical wires for airplanes by overlaying complicated information on real production.

Source: The Korea Times

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