Augmented reality (AR), not to be confused with virtual reality, is a technology that enhances our current reality by projecting virtual augmentations (Feiner, 2002). This technology has shaped and impacted our daily lives through the rise of gaming and social media platforms. AR typically focuses on wearable devices, where graphics and text are overlaid so that the viewers see different images of their surroundings (Feiner, 2002). However, AR is also evident in our day-to-day lives through apps such as Google Sky Map, Pokemon Go and Microsoft Star Finder (West, 2012). AR also has a huge impact on the gaming industry, where consumers are owning more interactive forms of digital media (West, 2012).
Through our daily interactions, it is evident that augmented reality has slowly crept in to become the ‘norm’ in our society. Not only has it impacted the gaming industry but it is evident in the majority of the technology industries. From a simple device called the Sensorama created in 1957, to the variations of AR available for consumers to buy and use, AR has made its way into people’s homes, offices and businesses. Its impacts are far greater than our daily lives and has impacted the political, economic and social spheres. This essay aims to discuss the beginning of augmenting reality, its impacts on historical communications trends and how it has transformed politics, economics, and the social media sphere.
PART 1: How It Started
Augmented reality has radically changed since Morton Heilig, a cinematographer, created the first version of AR in 1957. Heilig attempted to create an experienced-based on senses and feelings through the ‘Sensorama; (“Augmented Reality – The Past, The Present and The Future”, 2019) Almost two decades later, Myron Krueger, invented the “Videoplace” which was the first virtual reality experience wherein users could interact with VR in real-time. The phrase “augmented reality” was created by Thomas P. Caudell in 1990, shortly after the phrase “virtual reality” was coined. In 1992, Louis Rosenberg developed the first fully functioning AR system to improve human productivity at a time where manpower was in high demand. From these minor historical breakthroughs, the world’s largest technology companies (ie. Google, Microsoft) have developed software and gadgets to enhance the augmented reality experience. Although technology has certainly improved over the years, the essence of AR has remained – to enhance the reality you live in. (references)
With the rise of social media platforms, augmented reality has drastically changed the information management historical trends by allowing researchers to gather data and information in the science and technology industry to conduct experiments inside the laboratory rather than having to go directly out into the field (Cipresso, et. al, 2018). The popularity of using AR in various industries has helped enhance the science, education and social phenomena by creating realities where individuals can create and learn about certain topics or processes using AR technology (Cipresso, et. al, 2018).
PART 2: Industry Leaders
The largest owners and shareholders of the AR industry are the creators of apps and games that have spread like wildfire; for instance, Pokemon Go (Augmented Reality development companies in 2019, 2019). The number one AR company is Scanta, a company based in New York and San Francisco. They work with Apple and Google to create emojis – and fairly recently the Memoji on iOS. They also create games and collaborate with large companies to run campaigns involving AR.
Next/Now is the second-largest AR company, which creates immersive environments for brands using facial tracking, holograms, and multi-touch screens. The applications and games they create enable participants to see different sculptures, environments and even be different people in the AR space (Augmented Reality development companies in 2019, 2019).
The third-largest AR company is VironIT, which helps their clients through data visualization (Augmented Reality development companies in 2019, 2019). They develop games and entertainment which enhances communication throughout the health and education sector.
PART 3: AR and It’s Social Effects on Society
As mentioned above, AR has become a worldwide phenomenon, where content creators and social media designers integrate AR into the games or apps they create (Emspak, 2018). Boyle and Rivers (2018) discusses the impacts augmented reality has created in the public sphere, where both the digital and physical spaces are incorporated and intertwined. Perhaps the largest impact AR has is on the social, as that is where technology is moving towards nowadays. As an overarching field of impact, social then seeps into other spheres namely political and economic. The trends of AR tend to stem from the rise of digital transformation in the social space (Ramella, 2018).
Anyone who has a mobile device can experience and feel the transformative effect AR has on society. Almost 500 million devices enable AR, wherein apps in both the iOS and Google Play store are accessible to consumers (Ramella, 2018). Whilst several sectors including science, education, and manufacturing have benefited from AR, I would argue that consumers and individuals who have gadgets and mobile devices benefit from it the most. The attention of the masses to AR is what has driven this industry to become extremely successful. The fact that AR is something we carry around in. our pockets and can enhance our realities at any point during our day through filters or video games shows how powerful and useful this industry has become.
In conclusion, augmented reality has transformed quite drastically over the past couple of decades. From a simple device created by Morton Heilig, to something that has become a commodity in our pockets, this technology has evolved over and changed the way people interact with technology and our realities. Technology intertwined with the advancements of the social media and gaming industry has boosted AR to another level with its consumers. Ultimately, the masses who have mobile devices are the ones that interact with AR on a daily basis. This need to enhance our realities, to make it look better out the outside has become a social phenomenon in our society today.
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Cipresso, P., Giglioli, I. A. C., Raya, M.A., Riva, G. (2018). The Past, Present and Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality Research: A Network and Cluster Analysis of the Literature. Fronteirs in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpysg.2018.02086.
Emspak, J. (2018). What is Augmented Reality? Retrieved the from Live Science website: https://www.livescience.com/34843-augmented-reality.html.
Feiner, S. (2002). Augmented Reality: A New Way of Seeing. Scientific American, 286(4), 48-55. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/stable/26059641.
HubSpot (2018, April 30). What is the Difference Between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ2XO7HerfI.
Marr, B. (2019). 5 Important Augmented and Virtual Reality Trends for 2019 Everyone Should Read. Retrieved from the Forbes website: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/01/14/5-important-augmented-and-virtual-reality-trends-for-2019-everyone-should-read/.
Ramella, B. (2018). The Biggest AR/VR Trends in 2019. Retrieved from G2 website: https://learn.g2.com/trends/2019-ar-vr.
West, D. (2012). Video Games and Augmented Reality. In Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education (pp. 44-56). Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wpdm6.7.