Person holding up a tablet showing augmented reality

All About Augmented Reality (AR)

Digital gaming has soared over the past few decades, with computers, tablets, TVs, smartphones and consoles overtaking traditional board games. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have recently come into the spotlight in this industry, providing avid gamers with a true-to-life experience that combines both technology and the real world. 

What is Augmented reality?

Augmented reality is an interactive gaming experience where the real-world integrates with the computerised, digital world. While this sounds very similar to VR gaming, the difference is that AR creates stronger coexistence between reality and gaming. While VR completely immerses you inside a digital world using headgear, AR places objects into the real world around you, normally by utilising your device’s camera. 

This means that you are not fully detached from reality with AR, as it simply incorporates digital objects into the actual environment around you, rather than completely transporting you to a world that doesn’t exist, like VR does. 

What is augmented reality used for?

AR, unlike the more educational origins of VR, is used primarily for leisure and entertainment. While the first recorded AR system was used by the U.S. Air Force in 1992, it is mainly a form of gaming that is used to blend reality with the digital world.  

AR is mostly used through mobile apps, like the hugely popular Pokemon Go, that overtook the summer of 2016. 

While Augmented Reality mostly sticks to its gaming platform, it has also been used in a business capacity, mostly to enhance ideas and explain concepts. Companies can use AR to explore certain projects, such as showcasing architecture and people walking around a building that has not yet been built. 

AR is quite useful for historians to place past buildings and people into a present-day environment, like documentaries visually narrating a story of a past Pharaoh or King, to see where they would have been. 

How can I use AR on my smartphone?

AR is primarily accessed through apps on your phone. You can browse the Google Play or Apple store for AR apps to download. 

As AR is a projection on your screen, smartphones with larger screens are typically better for this sort of gaming activity, as they provide a wider and clearer display. For example, finding and catching Pokemon on Pokemon Go would be more difficult if you’re playing on a smaller device. 

Phones like the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9, Google Pixel 4XL, Huawei P20 and P40 all have suitably large screens to use AR technology to its fullest potential. 

AR apps for your phone

A simple browse on the app stores will allow you to find multiple AR games to download, but here are some of the most popular currently:

  • Pokemon Go  - uses your camera to place Pokemon in the physical world around you
  • Snapchat - the popular social media app is a form of AR, as you can add filters on to every image you take, selfie or otherwise
  • Google Translate - you can hover your camera over foreign text to translate it into your native language
  • Inkhunter - allows you to see how a tattoo would look on your body before committing to that permanent ink
  • KickBall - allows you to kick a virtual ball around without damaging anything
  • IKEA Place - put any IKEA furniture virtually into your space to see how it would fit or look before buying
  • Holo - you can place 3D objects into the environment around you as holograms you can snap or video.

Augmented Reality will continue to explode in popularity as the years go by, no doubt providing assistance in many more areas of our lives, be it entertainment or shopping or even cooking. 

Check out our trends in the mobile industry to see what else could become commonplace over 2020 and 2021. 

Need a phone to download AR apps on to? Browse our online store of mobile phones and order a free SIM today.

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