What are Augmented Reality mobile apps?

 In Mobile App, Mobile app development

Ever since its inception, Augmented Reality mobile apps have truly changed our perception of the world. Augmented Reality is the use of technology to superimpose sounds, images, and text onto our real-world environment. It is a combination of real-world objects viewed by a user and computer-generated perceptual world that amplifies the scene with additional information. Augmented Reality mobile apps combine computer-generated video and photographic displays and other sense enhancements to a real-world environment in real-time. The goal of Augmented Reality mobile apps is to enhance a person’s perception in a way where he/she cannot distinguish between the real-world and the computer-generated virtual world.

History of Augmented Reality 

Advanced computer processors have made it possible to combine such digital data displays with real-time video. One of the early examples of Augmented Reality was first shown by the famous Fox Broadcasting company’s network in the mid-1990s. 

It may appear as a surprise, but Augmented Reality has been around for numerous decades. However, only with the recent development in Augmented Reality and the increased investments in this field have put AR apps on the map of the next big commercial commodity.

In the year 1968, Ivan Sutherland, a computer scientist and Harvard professor, invented the first sort of Augmented Reality device with his student, Bob Sproull. He named it “The Sword of Damocles”. The Sword of Damocles had a head-mounted display, hung from the ceiling superimposing computer graphics, which made the user feel as though they were in the middle of an alternate reality. However, the most significant development in Augmented Reality happened in the year 1947, by Myron Krueger. This project was known as Video placeVideoplace, which combined video cameras along with a projection system that produced shadows on the screen. This setup took the process a notch further making the user feel as though they were in an interactive environment. However, the term Augmented Reality came into existence after Boeing researcher; Tom Caudell coined it in the year 1990.

In 1992, Louis Rosenburg from USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab was the first to develop the first-ever real operational Augmented Reality system. This came to be known as Virtual Fixtures. 

The Timeline for AR Commercialisation

The advent of Augmented Reality mobile apps into the space of theatre and performing arts happened in 1994 through the show “Dancing in Cyberspace”. This show, in a way, marked the entry of AR into commercial domains.

In 1998, Sportsvision showed the original virtual yellow first-down marker during a live NFL match. A similar variation of this simulation is now a norm in all televised football matches today. This development has a significant role to play in the history of Augmented Reality.

In the year 1999, NASA integrated Augmented Reality in its X-38 spacecraft by using a hybrid synthetic vision structure. Augmented Reality helped to improve navigation during flights. 

Hirokazu Kato from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan, made a pivotal development in the field of Augmented Reality when he created the software called ARToolKit. This software could record real-world videos and superimpose them with virtual graphics.  In today’s time with the use of the internet and cameras, users can experience Augmented Reality. All these inventions from history have immensely influenced the experiences in flash-based Augmented Reality mobile apps.

The National Football League (NFL) used Skycam, for aerial views of the field. This included the insertion of the virtual first-down marker in 2003.

Esquire magazine collaborated with Robert Downey Jr. in 2009, to create Augmented Reality content for the readers. The same year, ARToolKit made Augmented Reality available to Internet browsers.

AR v/s VR

Augmented Reality’s distant cousin is Virtual Reality. VR is complimentary but distinct in technology. While AR apps superimpose digital information directly on the physical world, VR swaps physical reality with a computer-generated environment. Virtual Reality is most commonly used for entertainment applications, but it can also replicate physical settings for various training purposes. However, AR apps will be far more applicable in businesses than VR. Augmented Reality mobile apps augment the world scene, whereas Virtual Reality creates a distinct immersive world. In Augmented Reality mobile apps, users get a sense of being in the real world. However, in Virtual Reality users are under the control of the graphical environment which stimulates the aural and proprioceptive senses. Augmented Reality mobile apps also need a mechanism to combine elements of the real and virtual world. Contrary to this, Virtual Reality is created out of computer-generated visuals. 

Virtual Reality can be helpful, especially in machinery or combat training as often the tools involved are hazardous. VR can create an environment of using holograms of those tools/equipment. The core functionality of Augmented Reality mobile apps it to instruct, visualize and interact, whereas VR can stimulate a response.  In the case of Augmented Reality mobile apps, the user is in the real world. In Virtual Reality, however, the user is in an artificial world cut-off from the real environment.

Why Augmented Reality?

The reality that we live in is a three-dimensional world. In contrast, the information accumulated over the years remains limited to a two-dimensional structure like pages and electronic screens. This creates a long bridge between the digital data and the physical surrounding. Essentially, it is this gap which limits our capacity to process the rich insights in a more meaningful way. The human mind has unique imaginary capabilities. If these imaginations can be integrated with structured information, it will boost the production of billions of smart ideas and products. Augmented Reality mobile apps can affect companies, industries, and many other types of organisations, from educational institutions to social enterprises. 

AR apps are evolving technology, and its significance will only grow exponentially in the coming years. AR apps will take centre stage of being the new interface between machines and humans, bridging the long gap between the digital and physical worlds. Big industry giants like Amazon, Facebook, General Electric, Mayo Clinic, and even the U.S. Naval force, are implementing AR apps, witnessing a substantial impact on quality and productivity. 

Exclusive operations of Augmented Reality mobile apps have been around for a long time, but only recently have the technologies had the opportunity to unleash its potential. Primarily, AR apps convert vast volumes of data and analytics into images/animations that are overlaid in the real world. This makes the interpretation of information interactive and practical. Most AR applications today are distributed through mobile devices. Hoever, but the future will have exclusive hands-free wearables like smart glasses and head-mounted displays. 

What are AR apps

Broadly, AR apps create a new information-delivery paradigm. Experts suggest that it will have a profound impact on how data is structured, managed, and distributed on the internet. Although it was the internet which revolutionized information handling, it led storage and processing systems to be limited to the two-dimensional world of screens and pages. What this means is it urges people to process 2D data mentally and apply it to a 3D world.

Now, this isn’t always a cakewalk; as specific information and jobs require a deeper understanding of subjects. For example, anyone who uses a user’s manual to fix a machine knows that it always does not work out in favour. Pictorial representations are not still helpful and do not solve the asked question. Augmented Reality mobile apps give us the freedom to superimpose digital information directly on real-world objects. This allows people to absorb accurate information swiftly and perform the task at hand in an efficient manner.

AR apps magnify the potential of visualisation in information processing; therefore, generate value from these capabilities. AR apps add to business value in two ways mainly. First, by becoming part of products, and secondly, by refining performance across the value chain. The effects of Augmented Reality are spread across the value chain, but they are more effective in some aspects than in others. The power of visuals on instructional/guide applications have a massive impact on companies’ operations. 

Popular Augmented Reality Games or Applications

Professionals in the Augmented Reality industry believe that the jackpot is lying just around the corner in this field. The Augmented Reality industry is said to be the next success story like that of Apple. Investments in the Augmented Reality industry have been on the rise, and the curve seems only to move upwards. In 2018 alone, the investment in Augmented and Virtual Reality industry was a total of $1.1billion. Most people today are familiar with AR apps like Snapchat filters, Pokémon Go, etc. Pokémon Go became a sensation amongst gamers when it was released. It had an estimated 100 million users at its peak.

Another popular AR app is the Star Walk app by Vito Technology. This AR app is designed for sky gazers & enables them to point the camera oat the sky to get relevant information.  The AR app Layer uses GPS and the camera of mobile phones to gather information about the operator’s surroundings. It helps the operator to find popular places nearby, restaurants, stores, etc. In 2018, the AR app “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery” became incredibly popular amongst gamers.

The Scope of Augmented Reality

Experts calculate that the Augmented Reality industry will be a $60 billion industry by the end of 2020. It will drastically transform industries, operations, learning, and our interactions with the physical world. AR will change how markets operate and compete. In the past few years, Augmented Reality has attracted eyeballs across industries; big market players like HTC, Sony, Google have made huge investments. Mark Zuckerberg has even bought the AR platform Oculus for $2billion. 

A Few Specific Examples

AR can be a game-changer in GPS navigation as well. AR display installation can vividly illustrate navigation to drivers. This ensures that they don’t have to convert instructions from a 2D flat-screen into the real-world. This feature could especially be beneficial to on-demand mobile app businesses like car rentals, Uber, etc. Also, such a feature will ensure that the driver does not have to do a lot of back and forth. AR can also help save the mental effort to interpret a 2D schematic and provides real-time visual guidance. This feature helps to enhance workers’ performance and reduce costs significantly.  

The food and beverages industry is an example of where these emerging new technologies can be embedded very well. Augmented Reality can also help to train Chefs, bartenders, and workers. Developed well, AR also holds the potential to initiate interactions with the customers. This can provide the diners with a smooth, delightful experience.

Augmented Reality in education is becoming prevalent too as it helps learners to process information without much mental effort. EduTech industry is taking one more step towards technological advancement. The computer-generated perceptual information gives a real-time sneak peek into the topics. With AR apps, students can also build their 3D objects and animate them. The possibilities are endless in short.


Just like any good technology, augmented reality holds a lot of promise too. Considering that augmented reality borders on the cusp of science and art, it will have a lot more value to add. All of us know how visual content sells today. While most technologies haven’t touched that aspect and are focusing on the operational bits more, we feel that AR will change that. For instance, imagine chatting with a bot face instead of typing out on a chat window. Wouldn’t that be a welcome change?

Or say edu-tech mobile apps have the modality of explaining 3D-modelling or even a subject as complex as vectors using real-life 3d programming. It isn’t something hard to imagine. It can easily be visualised and a primal level of technologies exist which can help in such implementations. Once the implementations have been achieved, integrations will come too. The most important thing here is that all of it sounds doable. All we need is a little effort

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