Definition: Augmented reality integrates the user’s environment with digital information in “real time”.

How augmented reality is different from virtual reality: Virtual reality creates an artificial environment.  However, augmented reality overlays information over the top of the existing environment.

       In previous years, companies and labs have created devices that give people augmented reality. In 2009, the MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group presented SixthSense. This is a device that combined the use of a camera, projector, smartphone, and mirror. It is a lanyard that people can hang from the neck. Four sensor devices on the user’s fingers can be used to manipulate the images projected by the SixthSense.

In 2013, Google Glass was made public through the creation of case glasses.  This device responds to voice commands and has videos, sounds, and images on the screen.  However, it was pulled from the market in 2015.

Phones and tablets are the most used forms of augmented reality.  Apps such as Vito Technology’s Star Walk allow people to see stars and planets when they point their phone or tablet at the sky.  The Layar app uses a phone’s GPS and uses its camera to collect information about a user’s surroundings.  It then shares information about restaurants, stores, and interesting sights and shares them with the user.

       One of the challenges for augmented reality is that GPS is only accurate within 30 feet.  It doesn’t work well indoors either.  Also, some people don’t want to use their cell phones for these applications because the screens are small.

Some people worry that if people become too dependent on augmented reality they will miss out on the things that are right in front of them.  Also, people could depend on augmented reality instead of people to find out information about the world around them.  Tour guides have personal experiences and may have more to share than a computer program is able to do.

Privacy could be invaded with augmented reality.  A user could point their phone at a person and their information from social media websites could be brought up on their phones.  This could cause personal information to be shared before people have even met.

       There are many possibilities for future uses of augmented reality.  Users could learn more about the city or town they live in.  People who work in construction could save materials.  Virtual markers could be used to help with the construction of buildings.  Paleontologists could use them by leaving virtual notes on various artifacts or bones that they have found making it easier for other paleontologists to learn more about their finds.  Artists could create virtual graffiti.  Doctors could overlay digital images of X-rays or scans on a mannequin so that they results are more realistic for patients.  Cell phones and video game systems are using these systems but there are many more possibilities for the future.

How Augmented Reality Works. (2001, February 19). Retrieved May 15, 2017, from