Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment, whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented), by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. AR has become common in sports telecasting, handheld video games, head-up displays in AR cars and airplanes, tracking, etc.
The main hardware components for augmented reality are: processor, display, sensors and input devices. These elements, specifically CPU, display, camera and sensors are often present in modern smartphones, which make them prospective AR platforms.
AG reality can be used in:
- Devices: to create new applications that are physically impossible in "real" hardware, such as 3D objects.
- Multi-screen simulation: to display multiple application windows as virtual monitors in real space and switch among them with gestures and/or redirecting head and eyes.
- Automotive: eye-dialing, navigation arrows on roadways.
- Furnishings: plants, wallpapers, panoramic views, artwork, decorations, posters, illumination etc. For example, a virtual window could show a live feed of a camera placed on the exterior of the building, thus allowing the user to toggle a wall's transparency.
- Public displays: window dressings, traffic signs, Christmas decorations, advertisements, interactive dressing room mirrors.
- Gadgets: clock, radio, PC, arrival/departure board at an airport, stock ticker, PDA, PMP, informational posters/fliers/billboards.
- Group-specific feeds: for example, a construction manager could display instructions including diagrams at specific locations. Patrons at a public event could subscribe to a feed of directions and/or program notes.
- Prospecting: in hydrology, ecology and geology, AR can be used to display an interactive analysis of terrain characteristics. Users can collaboratively modify and analyze, interactive three-dimensional maps.
FPGA cameras are a perfect for augmented reality applications. They can process acquired video, overlay relevant data on the top and pass the merged video to the user.
• Advertising: to promote products via interactive AR applications.
• Task support: to support the complex tasks such as assembly, maintenance, and surgery, to display a labels on parts of a system to clarify operating instructions for a mechanic who is performing maintenance on the system.
• Medical: AR can include images of hidden objects, which can be particularly effective for medical diagnosis or surgery, ultrasound, confocal microscopy.
• Navigation: AR can augment the effectiveness of navigation devices. For example, building navigation can be enhanced to aid in maintaining industrial plants. Outdoor navigation can be augmented for military operations or disaster management. Head-up displays, currently used in fighter jets, or personal display glasses in automobiles, can provide navigation and traffic information.
• Industrial: AR can be used to compare digital mock-ups with physical mock-ups for efficiently finding discrepancies between them.
• Military and emergency services: Wearable AR can provide information such as instructions, maps, enemy locations, and fire cells.
• Entertainment and education: AR can create virtual objects in museums and exhibitions, theme park attractions, games and books. AR can also be used to make games that can be played outdoors.