Augmented Reality

The Rise of Augmented Reality

AR Origins

Although the term ‘Augmented Reality’ was coined back in 1990, the origins of this type of technology date back to even prior. Already in the 1950s, we saw our first glance at AR/VR with the first head-mounted display created by Harvard professor Ivan Sutherland (some even argue its history started in 1838 with the stereoscope!). Today, these acronyms are heard everywhere - and for a good reason.

By 1977 we saw the development of additional AR equipment with the first glove that turned movement into electrical signals - the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois. As lab research on AR increased in the 1980s with the work of Myron Krueger on ‘Videoplace’, we became more ready for a diverse set of uses. Starting in 1986 with NASA’s V.I.E.W. system, which showed a CGI environment users could interact with through DataGlove and DataSuit clothing, closely followed by military-used ‘Virtual Fixtures’, created in 1992 by Louis Rosenberg. This became one of the first times a system used mixed realities, allowing users to interact with physical and virtual objects at once. Throughout the 90’s and 2000s, more and more industries began implementing the technology with applications in sectors such as theatre (‘Dancing in Cyberspace’), sports (NFL’s graphic system), and finally on printed media making the pages come alive - for the first time (Esquire Magazine featuring Robert Downey Jr. speaking to the audience). There is no doubt AR’’s history has been rapidly evolving, and with it, a number of use cases possibilities have been unlocked.

Use Cases and Impact

From education, tourism, and architecture to military, media and marketing, AR has touched a variety of sectors in a multitude of ways. Some of the most creative use cases examples can be found below:

  • Volkswagen’s MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) app: provided technicians with guidelines and instructions for repair, paving the way for this sort of application across the manufacturing industry.
  • Microsoft’s HoloLens: called a computer which you wear on your head, it runs on Windows10 and allows users to use tap technology to navigate the computer and create your own AR environments.
  • 19 Crimenes packaging: AR took this wine label viral by using an app which customers could hover over the bottle to feature the criminal on the packaging telling their unique story.
  • IKEA’s AR furniture tech: enables customers to test out furniture in the physical room where they want to have it
  • Smithsonian Museum Dinosaurs Expo: providing life-size dinosaurs in AR for museum-goers to interact with

These are only a few examples to help paint a picture. Still, other notable applications for alternative AR uses can be named, such as: in architecture to see 3D models of blueprints, in retail to try clothes on artificially, and in gastronomy for AR Menus, showing clients the dish before their plates before ordering their meals. The most famous example of AR, however, is likely in a video game you may be familiar with. 

In 2016, we saw the entire world stop and play PokemonGo addictively, reaching close to 45 million users a month after their launch. The uptake was such that for a period, it surpassed the daily traffic of Twitter and Facebook. Ultimately, the Pokemon Go phenomenon proved the public was more than ready to adopt AR in their everyday lives. 

AR applications have expanded to previously unimaginable fields, impacting the way companies and organisations interact and communicate with their audiences. The bar has certainly been raised by pioneering companies leveraging AR, and those who do not hop on board soon risk being left behind.

AR: A means to enhance communication [ HoloMe x TEDxHultLondon]

Especially in a virtual, COVID-socially-distanced world; how we engage with each other has undergone a massive change. Moving all work, commerce, education, and communications online has resulted in an overwhelming amount of online events and digital content, it is even harder to stand out. Audiences and customers are looking for something new. Something different and, where possible, something immersive that will make them forget they are online. This is why tech such as AR is so impactful to the businesses and organisations that leverage them.

Although our TEDxHultLondon 2021 edition will be online, we wanted to make sure we capture our speaker’s talks as closely to reality as possible. Here is where we, TEDxHultLondon, have partnered up with AR company HoloMe to ensure we can offer our audience an exciting online event. In such a content-overcrowded digital world, it is enhanced experiences like these that will capture - and retain - the audience’s attention after all. HoloMe is helping businesses change the way in which they communicate. Their technology converts videos into lightweight human holograms, giving us the opportunity to bring our TEDx speakers directly to you, inside your home, in augmented reality. We cannot wait to see this vision come to life and test the power of AR first hard. 

Check out HoloMe’s work here.

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