Artificial Intelligence to Augment Augmented Reality, Really?
Learn more about how the world is being transformed through AR and AI.
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Augmented reality is in the process of succeeding in changing the way we apprehend our whole ecosystem. That includes the way we play, the way we learn, and also the way we work, or even just interact in everyday life.
Do you know exactly what augmented reality is? What is the difference between AR and VR? What are some of the use cases for businesses, if there are any? And lastly, how could AI provide AR with an effective way to move to an even higher level?
The Next Big Thing
While it might have been considered as a gadget for years, AR is on its way to becoming one of the next big things in the global enterprise innovation landscape. There is growing evidence that the role of AR may take human and IT systems to an unprecedented fluid and intuitive level of interactions.
The rise of this kind of innovation coupled with AI provides new opportunities for industries and businesses. This occurs when not only companies are ready to adopt a new disruptive set of technologies but, moreover, when they are requesting it to take them further to their digital transformation journey, thus reinventing themselves.
What’s Augmented Reality?
You might think you don’t know what AR is and are certain that you never used or saw it before. But the filters that can be added on Snapchat pictures are actually AR technology. In the same way, the 550 million Pokemon Go players benefit from the advantages of AR without knowing or even caring about it.
Based on those two examples, we can see that augmented reality is providing digital elements on top of our environment, including images, animations, 3D models, music, or sounds that it increases this environment.
It just takes a few easy steps to transpose AR technologies for entertainment or gaming to real-life industry use cases. This step has been taken by Wayray for a long time now, for example.
In the field of aviation and car manufacturing, it's been 40 years since head-up displays (HUDs) were implemented for the first time. Its purpose is to enhance the visual perception of pilots and car drivers so that they don’t have to adjust constantly to a different brightness or sight distance. Today, empowered by augmented reality, “HUDs make it possible to put the image ahead of the car — where the driver is already looking — and thus significantly reduce the distraction time.” This provides more efficiency and secure conditions.
AR Vs. VR
Before going through more examples, let’s make sure we discern the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality.
In short, augmented reality is adding synthetic, scanned, or digitized components into a real environment (and that is how, at the risk of disappointing you, we must reveal that Pokemon don’t actually exist), while virtual reality is an entirely digital environment where the user or their graphical, numerical, or symbolic representation can interact with the environment.
AR is potentially available to 3.5 billion persons, as the magic wand that grants you access to it might be as simple as a smartphone app. To the contrary, VR requires specific headsets that give you the impression that you are somewhere else by taking over your entire vision.
Application of Augmented Reality
The scope of augmented reality spreads across three main applications, which can be summarized as three things: play, learn, and work. The beauty now consists of the fact that, in many cases, those three concepts most likely are intertwined and generate new business opportunities.
L'Oreal Interactive Devices
In its China stores, L’Oreal has installed "Magic Mirrors." These devices, powered by Alibaba’s augmented reality technologies, allow their customers, just standing in front of these mirrors, to virtually try on makeup with a full range of different tints. Of course, in the end, the application offers the possibility to send the customer the products that they selected. Needless to say, the gamification of the marketing tools also let customers play in the store with an augmented reality game, which leads to earning coupons for the L'Oreal online store. Thus, this initiates a virtuous cycle between gaming and business.
Ikea Interactive Furniture Experience
Ikea was already motivated to enter the digital era six years ago. Customers could use their smartphones to virtually view how a set of furniture would fit into their apartments. Today, the most recently released application allows the customer to see the object as realistically as possible, where they are given an opportunity to walk around them and interact with them in a practical and fun way. We can expect to, very soon, see their products brochure, augmented by a smartphone app.
Target Application Areas
The fourth industrial revolution is often the cradle of an increasing pace in technological changes. To illustrate this point, remember that it took 75 years for the telephone to reach 100 million users while it only took the Candy Crush Saga 15 months.
Among field computing or biometric devices, for example, augmented reality is acquiring a new legitimacy in the business landscape.
Building information modeling (BIM) is located where the classical computer-aided design meets 3D modeling. BIM software, by combining technical data, metadata, and visual data, aims to display a visual representation of a project. Although the first usage of BIM is buildings, there are numerous other types of applications, including civil engineering, energy, transportation, smart city.
In the field of building construction, augmented reality is unlocking the visualization capabilities by overcoming the physical boundaries. It makes it possible to see beyond the walls or to observe inexistent sophisticated steel structures, for example.
Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) is offering unprecedented capabilities for the most advanced tactical aircraft. For pilots, split-second decision-making has become a crucial survival skill. Helmets leveraging AR present vast quantities of flight, tactical, and sensor information, enabling precision and safety.
Whether for the purpose of surgery or just a simple doctor's consultation, the quick, simple, and accurate access to patient medical records, including medical imagery, can facilitate medical professionals or even save a patient's life.
The journey within an airport is often a source of confusion. With unexpected changes in schedules, delays, gates changing, etc., AR can be used to improve the interpretation of signage and provide additional personalized information of every passenger within the airport.
When it appears dangerous or just impossible to produce real-life situations, AR might allow coaches to simulate with excellent realism training environments. Fire, smoke, explosions, moving crowd, ground collapse etc. can be virtually created to let a training session being without creating a hazardous situation.
In the end, the potential areas that could benefit from augmented reality are numerous. AR could provide interactive models for education, advanced navigation for transportations, visual installation for the arts domain, sightseeing objects for tourism, and more.
AI Takes AR to the Next Level
Artificial intelligence is everywhere — in smartphones, smart vehicles, drones, social media apps, media streaming services, video games, navigation tools and apps, banking and finance apps, security systems, and the list goes on and on.
There is a natural bridge between AI and AR technologies, including advanced analytics and computer vision.
The article “A New Way Augmented Reality is Meeting Artificial Intelligence” further illustrates this concept. The author, Andrew Wheeler, explains that “IBM is looking to improve data visualization methods using augmented reality driven visual environments. An IBM project called Immersive Insights is tackling this issue by giving AR developers a chance to incorporate computer vision and speech recognition AI elements...“
Another example is a company like aisle411 that developed a shopping solution for supermarkets. The purpose is to assist customers to find their products more easily. The application is based on a computer-vision-driven, 3D-mapping service that guides the client through the shop.
The solution contains:
- Digitized indoor spaces
- Searchable floor plans
- Indoor positioning technologies to navigate
- Analytics to turn data into actionable insights
The augmented world is offering more capabilities to users than ever before. Its applications are numerous now, far beyond the sole scope of gaming or entertainment.
The same way AI is empowering RPA, data analytics, or IoT, it takes also AR to the next level.
The only limits of AR and AI seem to be our imagination.
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