What is it and where can I find it?
Augmented Reality or AR as it’s often known as, is defined by good old wiki as being ‘an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic (touch), somatosensory (conscious perception of things such as touch, pain, pressure and temperature) and olfactory (smell). The first piece of AR technology was an AR head mounted display system, developed by Ivan Sutherland, a computer scientist, in 1968.
In 2008, the first AR commercial application was launched in Munich. The technology consisted of a magazine that featured an interactive BMW advert. When a camera was placed in front , a virtual car would appear on the camera screen. The car could be manipulated and rotated depending on the movement of the magazine. This creation paved the way for many more AR inventions, some aimed at consumers, others to highlight societal issues. An example of this is the National Geographic’s campaign in 2011 which highlighted rare or extinct animal species. The video is available on YouTube but they brought animals ‘to life’ including a rather large T-Rex!
More recently though, a game that brought crowds of people together to walk the streets, parks and places of interest was of course, Pokemon Go! Personally, I am a huge Pokemon fan since back in the day. Pokemon was my childhood and *nerd alert* I’ve still got my cards to the day! So when this game was released I was stoked. Just to have a current Pokemon game available in the App Store was enough for me to download it. However, the ability to use the app with augmented reality is what really catapulted it above the rest.
Using the app’s AR setting, users could walk around their environments and while doing so, Pokemon would randomly pop up and appear to be beside them. I never thought I’d come head to head with Pikachu himself but I guess dreams come true. The game then goes that you need to catch the Pokemon with pokeballs and lures you might have picked up on your travels. A clever element that brought people together, was the creation of Pokemon gyms. The gyms were ‘hosted’ by specific landmarks around your area. For example, where I live, there were particular buildings such as churches or restaurants that were identified to be gyms. In these areas, users could interact with eachother in a Pokemon battle. The winner, would occup that gym until another user came along and defeated it. There’s a lot more to the game but it definitely brought the use of accessible and fun AR to the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Other games have since followed and while the success of Pokemon Go has somewhat flatlined, this game has set a benchmark for future developments and I’m excited to see what might come next.