Augmented reality: It may be here sooner than you think, and it could change your own reality as you know it.
Imagine a world in which virtual computer generated objects interact with you in the real world, like a Hologram like you see in a Star Wars movie.
The world described is one portrayed in a fictional sci-fi story, The Machine Stops, penned by EM Forster in 1909. Although written more than a century ago, that tale could very easily describe the world in which we live today—a world in which altered reality is quickly becoming our own reality.
Virtual reality, or VR, is gaining a tremendous amount of attention in the media and has even been forecast as being the next big trend in entertainment. Given VR’s roots in gaming, that only makes sense. Yet, it is augmented reality that is slowly gaining speed and could soon overtake VR in the race to become the next big wave.
Virtual reality and augmented reality have many elements in common. Both utilize the same technology and even hardware, but there are significant differences between the two. While virtual reality allows a user to become immersed in a digital world, augmented reality simply adds a digital layer to existing reality. Basically, AR simply lays digital information over our physical world using an electronic device, such as smart glasses, or even a smartphone or tablet.
The Internet made the world smaller, and AR is expected to give us the opportunity to interact in that world. Within five years, it is expected that artificial intelligence will replace the screen. Unlike VR, augmented reality allows the user to still see what is taking place around them. While VR users are limited to a restricted area, AR users have the freedom to move about.
So, are we looking at the potential for an AR system similar to the one portrayed in the Terminator films? In the film franchise, Skynet gained self-awareness after spreading into millions of servers, and then attempted to exterminate the entire human race in a self-preservation effort.
While such a scenario isn’t likely, the reality is that AR does have the potential to be massive. Front-runner in the Augment Reality game Microsoft, just released its Hololens AR headset to developers and Magic Leap, a Florida-based firm focused on blending the physical and digital worlds, recently announced that it has raised more than $793 million. Clearly, the potential for augmented reality is present and companies are willing to bet money on that potential.
How reality as we know it will look in five years is anyone’s guess, but given the current movement, it could look much different than it does today.