The terminology used in the tech world can often throw people off, or even scare them. You see abbreviations like AR/VR/XR and can’t tell the difference without some guidance. Someone says, “Extended Realities” and maybe you shoot them back a blank stare with wide eyes trying to convey your confusion without looking dumb. Sound familiar?
We’ve all been there on some topic or another. But we wanted to take a moment to ease your fears, at least when it comes to augmented reality. Whether you’re a technophobe or full of techno joy, AR has been a part of your life more, and for longer, than you probably realize.
Augmented Reality, at its core, references something that changes the world we live in (augments it, shocking!) to be juuuust different enough to feel exciting and new. This technology has been used in a variety of ways for years and years, but they’re so engrained in us that we don’t consider them this “high tech” revelation that many consider when they hear the terms.
Okay, fine then—what are some examples of augmented reality that we’ve already been using without even knowing it?
The most common use probably isn’t even registering in your mind as augmented reality. On social media: TikTok, Instagram, SnapChat and the like, filters abound!
You might have a flower crown on your head, heart eyes, puppy dog ears, or simply some make up so you can avoid beating your face in the morning!
Regardless of what you choose to use, these are forms of AR. They started slow, but these days nearly every entertainment company has some form of AR filter, from Mickey Mouse ears atop your head even when you’re not at the park, to the option to bring iconic NYC landmarks to your home town.
Like most every-day AR, filters exist in the palm of your hand and feel very normal these days. That said, TikTok Effect House has taken it a step further by making the platform for creators to make and distribute their work even simpler. Long story short: anyone can make an AR filter, even you!
2. Pokémon Go
Similar to SnapChat filters which feel like old news at this point, Pokemon Go launched back in July of 2016. Heralded as “the first free location-based, augmented reality game,” it took the world by storm!
If you don’t remember what it was like, that summer everyone was out running around, trying to catch their favorite character from the game/show. We’d been waiting for this moment, to completely immerse ourselves in the game while still living in our reality. When you’re a kid (or even an adult) playing your favorite game, or watching a film you love, it’s not at all uncommon to think, “Gosh, I’d really like to live in that world!” And this advancement made that a reality. An augmented reality, if you will!
3. Theme Park Photo Passes
While most theme parks have a version of AR photo options now, the most notable is Disneyland/Disney World. For years the parks have offered fans lovingly call “magic photos.”
You stand on Main Street USA, or in front of the Tree of Life and although in reality you’re taking a regular photo, when you take a look at the final product your favorite character may be looking over your shoulder. Or perhaps they asked you to hold out your hand and Tinkerbell is dancing in your palm!
4. Amazon Shopping
In the market for a new couch? Planning to buy online? Yeah, you can measure and plan and draw to your heart’s content, but does anything beat actually seeing it in your space?
Not really. Which is why Amazon includes an AR feature that allows you to hold your phone up to the room you’re in and place the item there! In reality—the couch, chair, rug, etc has not arrived, but it gives you a size-accurate look at what your room will turn into once it is truly placed.
You get to turn, orient, and test (well, with your eyes) a product before you buy it. This might just be AR’s most practical application in everyday life.
5. Real Estate
Augmented Reality has even wormed its way into the real estate world. Not only can you use it for furniture shopping like mentioned above, but there are also now whole companies and software applications dedicated to virtual staging. This became especially useful during times like the height of the pandemic when people wanted to avoid cross contact.
It has also been used in a Zillow-like fashion—if you’re on a block and interested in how much the houses go for in that area? The prices and information can pop up on a Google-Earth style screen. How cool is that?
This sector of the world has also begun using AR technology for architectural renderings, which save a lot of time and resources.
AR started in medicine as an educational tool. Students get a first-hand look at an internal body part without actually needing a human cadaver.
It has also been frequently used in planning for surgeries, allowing doctors to virtually travel through the process they have planned to ensure that it will go as smoothly as possible before actually cutting someone open. Whew.
If you’re interested in learning more about AR and VR used in medicine, Longdom.org has a great write-up!
It started as an answer to shopping woes during the pandemic, but AR try-on for clothing isn’t going anywhere.
When it comes to Augmented Reality, fashion runs the gamut. You have the option, many places, to stand in front of your phone and see the clothes placed on your body, but other apps like Good Style put the clothes on your avatar.
No matter what style of online shopping you’re looking for, we’re in the era for it!
What other AR have you run into in your reality?