5 Surprising Facts About Augmented Reality

Technology is moving forward rapidly. Advancements are being made in every industry with healthy competition fostering faster and faster change for the better – a change for the future. Novels that might have seemed futuristic and sci-fi fifty years ago are now our reality, and some are even outdated to the point where we can open the book and chuckle at the primitive technology it’s writer had imagined for the future.

Man Using Tablet For Augmented Reality
Man Holding Tablet Which Augments Reality – Photo By Patrick Schneider

One of these technological marvels that science has provided us with in the recent years is augmented reality. For those of you not familiar with the term, augmented reality is a technology that adds a new layer of information (text, pictures or otherwise) over your view of the real world. For good examples, think about augmented reality games like Pokemon Go, where pokemon are overlaid onto your camera image of your home commute.

With explanations out of the way, let me do what you came here for and shower you in augmented reality facts that’ll make you say: “Huh, that’s neat I guess.”

1. Pokemon Go saved Nintendo

After the flop of the Wii U, Nintendo wasn’t doing so hot. The 3DS was already an outdated system and the now successful Switch was nowhere in sight. So, Nintendo decided to tap the mobile market, since that’s where all the big bucks seemed to be at.

Dog and Pikachu On Pokemon Go AR game
Pokemon Go on a smartphone

In collaboration with Niantic, the much-hyped and too soon forgotten Pokemon Go was born. And boy was it fun. You can say whatever you want about Go, but ultimately it brought a lot of people together for a childish joy of chasing down little electricity rats on city streets, and that kind of nostalgic feeling is what Nintendo is all about.

Granted, today many have forgotten about Pokemon Go, as when the hype died down plenty of people left the app to gather dust, either frustrated by endless server downtime or simply bored. That being said, Nintendo amassed a good deal of money from this endeavour.

Global downloads for Pokemon Go in June of 2017 totaled about 750 million. One in every ten people on Earth had at some point downloaded Nintendo’s coveted app. Even more, by the end of 2016, Nintendo had made $950 million from the in-game purchases – that’s a lot of zeroes. Nintendo’s stocks also raised all the way to 32,700 Yen ($294) in 2016, the highest they had been in six years.

2. The term Augmented Reality was coined in 1990

While inventions that can be considered inside the definition of augmented reality existed before, the term itself was coined in 1990 by Tom Caudell. The tech he gave the name to was limited in its use – it was meant for aircraft electricians.

If you’re interested in a little overview of AR’s history, you can find an article of mine here discussing this exact topic . You can also read about this next fact in more detail there, so definitely check it out for more “huh, neat” moments.

3. The first mention of Augmented Reality comes from a 1901 book

First Mention Of Augmented Reality
The Master Key – First Mention Of AR

Yeah, the idea goes a long way back. The book is called “The Master Key” by L. Frank Baum. I won’t go into it all, but it tells of a Demon of Electricity who brings the main character many gifts – among them a pair of what we can now consider smart glasses. These glasses allowed the main character to see people’s personalities on their foreheads.

If this sounds interesting, the book is actually in public domain and can be found for free as both an audio book and a PDF file from places like Project Gutenberg. Baum was also responsible for the “Wizard of Oz” and he has predicted many technological advancements across his novels.

If this sounds interesting, the book is actually in public domain and can be found for free as both an audio book and a PDF file from places like Project Gutenberg. Baum was also responsible for the “Wizard of Oz” and he has predicted many technological advancements across his novels.

Interesting that the most popular augmented reality game and the book that first mentions AR are represented by an electrical fantasy being… Coincidence? Probably, but hey you never know if there’s a Pikachu conspiracy afoot.

Picachu Freed - Conspiracy

4. Augmented Reality is now being used with books

Yep, that’s right! No longer is augmented reality limited to video games, it’s also coming for older mediums and inserting itself into  them with a dominance. With the help of smart glasses or any more conventional smart device, such as a phone, you can now read books with cool 3D, animated additions to your text.

This is mostly used for kids books to illustrate the story they’re reading, or to shows examples of animals in educational books, but really, the medium of storytelling can be enhanced with augmented reality in so many new ways, and I can’t wait for authors to start testing this thing out! We might even get things such as an overhauled Harry Potter experience in AR.

5. Augmented Reality is even invading your dressing rooms!

Online shopping is dangerous. Even if you have your sizes and measurements down, the way each piece of clothing is tailored can still look ghastly on some body types, even if it’s supposed to technically be the right size. Well, as a solution, online stores have paired up with AR developers who have made all sorts of different augmented reality apps to showcase what your potential purchase could look like on you – and there are even physical AR mirrors!

These apps range from 2D models to 3D models which account for fabric weight and feel and of course different body types. While these are not perfect yet, augmented reality has the potential to make online shopping from the comfort of your home as risk free as shopping in a physical store! We humans are lazy, so I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we’ll be welcoming this with open arms.

Again, for those interested, here’s a more detailed article I wrote about augmented reality clothes fitting.

So there you go – as you can see, Augmented reality is seeping into our lives more and more with every step towards the future that we take. So I say it’s best to get friendly with all this new technology!

It’ll be worth it when the Pikachu’s strike.

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Martin Rakver

I am a software engineer and tech enthusiast. During my free time, I like to immerse myself in the world of virtual and augmented reality, which I believe will be more and more prominent in the years to come.

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