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Augmented Reality example “Wikitude AR Travel Guide” on a G1 Google Smartphone (Android)

“AR Tower Defense” game on the Nokia N95 Smartphone (Symbian OS) use fiduciary markers

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with-, or augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, like for example sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable. Artificial information about the environment and the objects in it can be stored and retrieved as an information layer on top of the real world view. The term augmented reality is believed to have been coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, an employee of Boeing at the time[1].

Augmented reality research explores the application of computer-generated imagery in live-video streams as a way to expand the real-world. A typical example of augmented reality is a video of a car whose part names are displayed with graphical labels, overlaid onto the image in correct positions (as if hovering in mid-air). Advanced research includes use of head-mounted displays and virtual retinal displays for visualization purposes, and construction of controlled environments containing any number of sensors and actuators.



[edit] History

[edit] Notable researchers

[edit] Computer Vision methods used in Augmented Reality

[edit] Examples

Commonly known examples of AR are the yellow “first down” line seen in television broadcasts of American football games, and the colored trail showing location and direction of the puck in TV broadcasts of hockey games. The real-world elements are the football field and players, and the virtual element is the yellow line, which is drawn over the image by computers in real time. Similarly, rugby fields and cricket pitches are branded by their sponsors using Augmented Reality; giant logos are inserted onto the fields when viewed on television.

Another type of AR application uses projectors and screens to insert objects into the real environment, enhancing museum exhibitions for example. The difference to a simple TV screen for example, is that these objects are related to the environment of the screen or display, and that they often are interactive as well.

Many first-person shooter video games simulate the viewpoint of someone using AR systems. In these games the AR can be used to give visual directions to a location, mark the direction and distance of another person who is not in line of sight, give information about equipment such as remaining bullets in a gun, and display a myriad of other images based on whatever the game designers intend. This is also called the head-up display.

In some current applications like in cars or airplanes, this is usually a head-up display integrated into the windshield.

The F-35 Lightning II has no Head-up display because all targets are tracked by the aircraft’s situational awareness and the sensor fusion is presented in the pilot’s helmet mounted display system that provides an augmented reality system that allows the pilot to look through his own aircraft as if it wasn’t there.

[edit] Current applications

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Advertising: Marketers may consider using AR to promote a new product via an interactive, web-based AR application.

Support with complex tasks: Complex tasks such as assembly, maintenance, and surgery can be simplified by inserting additional information into the field of view. For example, labels can be displayed on parts of a system to clarify operating instructions for a mechanic who is performing maintenance on the system. AR can include images of hidden objects, which can be particularly effective for medical diagnostics or surgery. Examples include a virtual X-ray view based on prior tomography or on real time images from ultrasound or open NMR devices. A doctor could observe the fetus inside the mother’s womb. See also Mixed reality.

Navigation devices: AR can augment the effectiveness of navigation devices for a variety of applications. For example, building navigation can be enhanced for the purpose of maintaining industrial plants. Outdoor navigation can be augmented for military operations or disaster management. Head-up displays or personal display glasses in automobiles can be used to provide navigation hints and traffic information. These types of displays can be useful for airplane pilots, too. Head-up displays are currently used in fighter jets as one of the first AR applications. These include full interactivity, including eye pointing.

Industrial Applications: AR can be used to compare the data of digital mock-ups with physical mock-ups for efficiently finding discrepancys between the two sources. It can further be employed to safeguard digital data in combination with existing real prototypes, and thus save or minimize the building of real prototypes and improve the quality of the final product.

Military and emergency services: AR can be applied to military and emergency services as wearable systems to provide information such as instructions, maps, enemy locations, and fire cells.

Prospecting: In the fields of hydrology, ecology, and geology, AR can be used to display an interactive analysis of terrain characteristics. Users could use, and collaboratively modify and analyze, interactive three-dimensional maps.

Architecture: AR can be employed to virtually resurrect destroyed historic buildings as well as simulate planned construction projects.

Sightseeing: Models may be created to include labels or text related to the objects/places visited. With AR, users can rebuild ruins, buildings, or even landscapes as they previously existed. Combined with a wireless network, the amount of data displayed is limitless.

Collaboration: AR can help facilitate collaboration among distributed team members via conferences with real and virtual participants. Also see Mixed reality.

Entertainment and education: AR can be used in the fields of entertainment and education to create virtual objects in museums and exhibitions, theme park attractions (such as Cadbury World), and games (such as ARQuake, Parallel Kingdom, or The Eye of Judgment).[3] Also see Mixed reality.

[edit] Future applications

  • Expanding a PC screen into the real environment: program windows and icons appear as virtual devices in real space and are eye or gesture operated, by gazing or pointing. A single personal display (glasses) could concurrently simulate a hundred conventional PC screens or application windows all around a user
  • Virtual devices of all kinds, e.g. replacement of traditional screens, control panels, and entirely new applications impossible in “real” hardware, like 3D objects interactively changing their shape and appearance based on the current task or need.
  • Enhanced media applications, like pseudo holographic virtual screens, virtual surround cinema, virtual ‘holodecks‘ (allowing computer-generated imagery to interact with live entertainers and audience)
  • Virtual conferences in “holodeck” style
  • Replacement of cellphone and car navigator screens: eye-dialing, insertion of information directly into the environment, e.g. guiding lines directly on the road, as well as enhancements like “X-ray”-views
  • Virtual plants, wallpapers, panoramic views, artwork, decorations, illumination etc., enhancing everyday life. For example, a virtual window could be displayed on a regular wall showing a live feed of a camera placed on the exterior of the building, thus allowing the user to effectually toggle a wall’s transparency
  • With AR systems getting into mass market, we may see virtual window dressings, posters, traffic signs, Christmas decorations, advertisement towers and more. These may be fully interactive even at a distance, by eye pointing for example.
  • Virtual gadgetry becomes possible. Any physical device currently produced to assist in data-oriented tasks (such as the clock, radio, PC, arrival/departure board at an airport, stock ticker, PDA, PMP, informational posters/fliers/billboards, in-car navigation systems, etc. could be replaced by virtual devices that cost nothing to produce aside from the cost of writing the software. Examples might be a virtual wall clock, a to-do list for the day docked by your bed for you to look at first thing in the morning, etc.
  • Subscribable group-specific AR feeds. For example, a manager on a construction site could create and dock instructions including diagrams in specific locations on the site. The workers could refer to this feed of AR items as they work. Another example could be patrons at a public event subscribing to a feed of direction and information oriented AR items.

[edit] Specific applications


  • Gizmondo was an all-inclusive, one-platform computing mobile device, offering GPS, phone, contacts, gaming and other features similar to standard mobile phones.[4] The device was an early example of augmented reality being ported to more consumer-friendly portable devices.[5] In 2005, Tiger Telematics launched the Gizmondo to much acclaim. The company exhausted its resources at 5,000 units in the United Kingdom. Other mobile devices for general consumer augmented reality are iPhone, Nokia and Android.
  • Characteroke is a portable AR display costume, whereby the head and neck are concealed behind an active flat panel display.
  • MARISIL is a media phone user interface based on AR
  • Wikitude is an application for the Android Phone and the iPhone which makes Wikipedia a location based service. The actual camera view is mixed with information from Wikipedia. The application was developed by the Austrian-based company Mobilizy. Mobilizy also developed an app for ING locating the nearest ATM see Springwise for more info.
  • Layar is an application for the Android Phone similar to Wikitude, but allows third party content providers to define own “layers”, that users can select for display.
  • Monocle is an iPhone application developed by Yelp, Inc that overlays Yelp member reviews onto buildings as seen through the eyes of the iPhone camera. It is the first iPhone application to utilize augmented reality.[6]


  • Canon’s MR Aquarium is an example of AR experience that utilizes a headset. Though headsets are bulky and limit users mobility, they offer a much more involved experience.

Desktop Computer

  • LifeClipper is a wearable AR system
  • is a website allowing anyone to embedded augmented reality on any business card.
  • BBC’s Merlin MagicSymbol is a free download (U.K. only)from BBC’s Merlin site giving access to exclusive Merlin content
  • CyberCode is a visual tagging system where real-world objects are recognizable by a computer.
  • Imgaugasse is a tractor engine’s hydraulics block assembly project by VTT research center.

AR visors

[edit] Popular culture

[edit] Music

  • Pop Punk band Blink 182 and rap artist Big Boi are using AR technology to broadcast a concert online [8]
  • Pop group Duran Duran included interactive AR projections into their stage show during their 2000 Pop Trash concert tour.[9]

[edit] Television & Film

  • The television series Dennō Coil depicts a near-future where children use AR glasses to enhance their environment with games and virtual pets.
  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence gives several examples of augmented reality in use.
  • Several mecha television series, including Gundam, Gunbuster, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Voices of a Distant Star and Martian Successor Nadesico, depict 360° augmented reality cockpits that are used to display information.
  • In Serial Experiments Lain, The Wired is overlaid onto the real world via electromagnetic radiation relaying information directly to people’s brains, causing people to experience both The Wired and the real world.
  • In the Star Trek universe, the Jem’Hadar used a sort of augmented display to view the real world and what was outside the ship, integrating with the star ship’s main sensors to gain an outside view of the star ship.
  • In the Star Trek universe, the Emergency Medical Hologram program generates an artificial human to perform medical functions where a human medic is unavailable.
  • The television series Firefly depicts numerous AR applications, including a real-time medical scanner which allows a doctor to use his hands to manipulate a detailed and labeled projection of a patient’s brain.
  • In the 1993 ABC miniseries Wild Palms, a Scientology-like organization used holographic projectors to overlay virtual reality images over physical reality.
  • In the movie Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) uses an augmented reality system to design his super-powered suit.

[edit] Literature

  • The table top role-playing game, Shadowrun, introduced AR into its game world. Most of the characters in the game use viewing devices to interact with the AR world most of the time.
  • Cybergeneration, a table top role-playing game by R. Talsorian, includes “virtuality”, an augmented reality created through v-trodes, cheap, widely available devices people wear at their temples.
  • The books Halting State by Charles Stross and Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge include augmented reality primarily in the form of virtual overlays over the real world. Halting State mentions Copspace, which is used by cops, and the use by gamers to overlay their characters onto themselves during a gaming convention. Rainbows End mentions outdoor overlays based on popular fictional universes from H. P. Lovecraft and Terry Pratchett among others.
  • The term “Geohacking” has been coined by William Gibson in his book Spook Country, where artists use a combination of GPS and 3D graphics technology to embed rendered meshes in real world landscapes.
  • In The Risen Empire, by Scott Westerfeld, most – if not all – people have their own “synesthesia“. An AR menu unique to the user that is projected in front of them, but they can only see their own synesthesia menus. It is controlled by hand gestures, blink patterns, where the user is looking, clicks of the tongue, etc.
  • In the Greg Egan novel Distress, the ‘Witness’ software used to record sights and sounds experienced by the user can be set-up to scan what the user is seeing and highlight people the user is looking out for.
  • In the Revelation Space series of novels, Alastair Reynolds characters frequently employ “Entoptics” which are essentially a highly developed form of augmented reality, going so far as to entirely substitute natural perception.

[edit] Advertising

At the 2008 LA Auto Show, Nissan unveiled the concept vehicle Cube and presented visitors with a brochure which, when held against a webcam,showed several versions of the vehicle interacting with the brochure. The brochure is also available from the company website.

On 16 Dec 2008, at a Volvo Ocean Race 2008–2009 event, Volvo Car Malaysia demonstrated the use of this same technology with its media partners a 3D Volvo Open 70 racing yacht. This virtual 3D Volvo Open 70 racing yacht can now be built on their teaser website at.

In January 2009 Toyota used Augmented Reality to provide an interactive demo of the new Toyota iQ. The program was created by Inition using their MagicSymbol system and can be downloaded from Toyota’s website

In March 2009 Paramount used this way to show a tour of the USS Enterprise for the new Star Trek movie. The program can be experienced at the experience the entreprise website.

In August 2009, Best Buy ran a circular with an augmented reality code that allowed users with a webcam to interact with the product in 3D.[10]

[edit] Conferences

  • 1st International Workshop on Augmented Reality (IWAR’98), San Francisco, Nov. 1998.
  • 2nd International Workshop on Augmented Reality (IWAR’99), San Francisco, Oct. 1999.
  • 1st International Symposium on Mixed Reality (ISMR’99), Yokohama, Japan, March 1999.
  • 2nd International Symposium on Mixed Reality (ISMR’01), Yokohama, Japan, March 2001.
  • 1st International Symposium on Augmented Reality (ISAR 2000), Munich, Oct. 2000.
  • 2nd International Symposium on Augmented Reality (ISAR 2001), New York, Oct. 2001.
  • 1st International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2002), Darmstadt, Oct. 2002.
  • 2nd International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2003), Tokyo, Oct. 2003.
  • 3rd International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2004), Arlington, VA, Nov. 2004.
  • 4th International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2005), Vienna, Oct. 2005.
  • 5th International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2006) Santa Barbara, Oct. 2006.
  • 6th International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2007) Nara, Japan, Nov. 2007.
  • 7th International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2008) Cambridge, United Kingdom, Sep. 2008.

[edit] See also

[edit] Software

[edit] References

  1. ^ The interactive system is no longer a precise location, but the whole environment; interaction is no longer simply a face-to-screen exchange, but dissolves itself in the surrounding space and objects. Using an information system is no longer exclusively a conscious and intentional act. Brian X. Chen (2009-08-25). “If You’re Not Seeing Data, You’re Not Seeing“. Wired Magazine. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  2. ^ AR conferencing and learning
  3. ^ Malthouse, Scott (September 13, 2009). “Merged Worlds: When Games Invade Reality“. Thirteen 1 – Online Games Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  4. ^ Gizmondo on YouTube
  5. ^ Future of Media Tech: Augmented Reality
  6. ^
  7. ^ VR/AR visors
  8. ^
  9. ^ Pair, J., Wilson, J., Chastine, J., Gandy, M. “The Duran Duran Project: The Augmented Reality Toolkit in Live Performance“. The First IEEE International Augmented Reality Toolkit Workshop, 2002. (photos and video)
  10. ^

[edit] External links


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Mixed reality



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