All about augmented reality (AR)

First we had virtual reality (VR), and now we have augmented reality (AR). But what is AR? Unlike VR, which puts you inside a virtual world using a headset, AR works on your phone and lets you see your immediate environment, while overlaying graphics, text and animations. AR is transforming the way you learn, play, work and interact with all that is around you.

Last updated: 16th Oct 2018 at 4:55pm

You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy an expensive headset in order to get in on the experience. Almost any smartphone can deliver AR experiences and the best smartphones, such as the latest Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phone, take AR to new heights.

Augmented reality on any smartphone

The best way to learn and experience the powers of AR is to grab your smartphone and download some AR apps. You may like to try:

  • Pokémon Go - This game is the one that first brought AR into many people’s pockets. The game has evolved since it first gained popularity and in AR+ Mode, the Pokémon now appear to scale and possess a new awareness of their surroundings.
  • SketchAR - If you have always wanted to be able to draw, then this app uses AR to help you do just that. Grab paper and a pencil and the app overlays a drawing on your phone’s screen. All you need to do is trace the image that is projected.
  • Genesis Augmented Reality - The game lets you summon god-like creatures and engage in combat that takes place in your surroundings.
  • ViewRanger - This app encourages you to get out and about and uses GPS to provide topographical maps of the terrain. The Skyline feature lets you pan around your surroundings with the camera and the app overlays the direction of important places nearby, including lakes and mountain peaks.

AR on the Apple iPhone

In general, you will need an Apple iPhone that is running on iOS 11.0, in order to enjoy AR apps and games. Examples of these include:

  • IKEA Place - Place 3D virtual furniture around your home to see if they are for you. Rugs, tables, sofas and lamps need no re-sizing because all items are true to scale.
  • Monster Park - Venture into a prehistoric world and watch dinosaurs, like the tyrannosaurus, come to life in your world, as they play and roar.
  • My Very Hungry Caterpillar - This game brings the character of the children’s book into your world and it lets your children play and paint.

The Apple iPhone X does even more with AR by using the TrueDepth camera. Animoji, which are custom animated characters, can be used in the Messages App. Using facial mapping technology, the Animoji mirrors the expressions that you make and follows your voice. You can also make an Animoji sticker to decorate your messages.

AR on the Samsung Galaxy

The Samsung Galaxy S9 puts AR in the palm of your hand. Samsung gives the experience a little touch of its own uniqueness and innovation:

  • AR Emoji - Using the phone’s camera, you can scan your own face and create a unique and animated version of yourself. The emoji captures your main facial features, while giving you the option to choose different clothes, hair and glasses. You can create videos and share them, with the character following your voice.
  • AR Emoji Stickers - When you create your Emoji, 18 stickers are automatically generated and these can be used during text conversations to express a range of emotions.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 also transforms the Bixby into a new augmented reality assistant. When you open the camera, Bixby Vision recognises places, wine, food, shopping items and places. Bixby Voice then overlays useful information based upon what the camera sees.

So, are you ready to start playing in AR? Time to get downloading!

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