What Is Augmented Reality? (Definition And Applications)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 August 2022 | Published 1 May 2022

Updated 28 August 2022

Published 1 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Augmented reality is an advanced technology that companies can employ in many areas of their business. Though the technology is still expanding and developing, it now offers several features that can entertain clients and help improve customer satisfaction metrics. If you are looking for new ways to transmit information or want to learn more about the technology, it is crucial to understand how it works. In this article, we examine the concept of augmented reality, review its popular uses for companies and individuals, and also explore the domain of virtual reality and list the differences between the two.

Related: Learn About Data Science Careers (With Skills and Duties)

What Is The Meaning Of Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a combination of digital and physical worlds by software with the help of computer-generated perceptual information to create an artificial or simulated user experience. Companies and organisations can employ technology like smartphones, televisions and cameras to deliver unique experiences to individuals, using visuals and sounds. This technology is becoming increasingly popular among businesses as they can use it for a variety of purposes.

Some companies might use it to develop a fun game or an entertainment app, while others may use it to improve their current line of products and services. A company that sells electronic devices, for example, can develop an AR mobile app to show users how the device works. The app might then assist them in performing repairs or show them different ways of using the device.

How Does AR Work?

AR works by overlaying digital information on top of a camera-captured natural environment. For any device to support augmented reality, it requires a screen and a working camera. As most smartphones and tablets offer these components, several companies focus their AR apps on mobile platforms. Some companies develop their own AR devices, such as special goggles that work with AR technology and software. The camera scans a room or a specific object in its view once it pairs and then places a 3D image in that space. If the user moves, the screen adjusts accordingly and alters the image perception.

For example, if the camera scans a table and places an image of a bottle on it, the bottle remains fixed when the user looks at it through the screen and walks around the room. The digital 3D bottle appears to be a part of the real world. Some organisations even allow users to interact with the displayed objects using additional controls. This can improve the experience of augmented reality for individuals because they may feel that the digital model in front of them is real.

Related: What Does A UI/UX Designer Do? (With Salary And Skills)

Popular Applications Of AR

There are several applications of AR. Some of them are:

Education

Many schools, organisations and education resource companies use AR to help students learn and understand better. Schools can apply AR in some classes to assist students to understand subjects like astronomy and biology. Students can use the technology to bring photos of animals into the classroom and learn about their anatomy and functions. They can also display and explore images of solar systems to better understand where stars and planets are located. Textbook publishers can use AR to make learning more dynamic. Students can scan certain images in the textbook to make them animate or display additional information.

Related: 13 Important Skills Of The Future Worth Developing

Interior design and furniture

Customers can gain a better understanding of how various furniture pieces and lifestyle accessories fit into their homes using AR technology. They can view how a product looks with the existing colour and ambience of the room when they scan a furniture item using AR-powered software. Some applications even provide accurate measurements for each piece of furniture to help customers determine whether their room is large enough to accommodate it.

Related: 9 Different Types Of Interior Design Jobs With Salary Info

Maintenance and repair

AR has a lot of potential for guiding machine repair and assembly. It can display an image on top of machines and assist users in putting them together or fixing them by using devices such as smartphones or goggles. AR can even point out if elements are missing from the machine or if components are in the wrong place. This technology can help companies save time and money by increasing the efficiency and speed of equipment repair procedures.

Navigation

Many individuals and businesses use AR apps for navigation. While using their smartphones for navigation, individuals can see guidelines emerge over the road, which helps them understand where they are heading and how to get there. Some apps allow users to scan items and their immediate surroundings to learn more about locations and discover what is nearby. High-end automobiles may use AR technology on windshields, providing drivers with a head-Up display (HUD) that can provide navigational information and statistics about the vehicle.

Entertainment

AR has many possible applications in the field of entertainment. Some companies develop AR games, while others develop AR effects that people can add to videos or social media streams. There are some companies that combine navigation and entertainment by developing games that players can play while exploring and wandering about their physical environment.

AR adds a new dimension to entertainment by allowing viewers to become active participants in a show, as opposed to passive viewing. Creating exotic worlds, immersing the audience in the plot and offering additional information about what is happening on screen are just a few ways in which AR integration may help make a show more engaging for viewers.

Related: 17 Common In-Demand Digital Skills Companies Look For

Healthcare

AR can help medical students learn more about the human body by analysing 3D images of its anatomy and systems, similar to its use in the field of education. By scanning certain areas of a patient's body and examining pre-existing medical conditions on record, AR could help doctors perform their tasks more effectively.

What Is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment with scenes and objects that gives the user the feeling of complete immersion into their virtual surroundings. Users can immerse themselves into virtual and simulated realities using a VR headset or helmet. While the majority of companies use VR to develop games, others use it to develop artistic tools and new forms of visual entertainment. It also has applications in skill development, training, education and scientific practice.

Related: 10 Computer Vision Interview Questions And Sample Answers

How Does Virtual Reality Work?

Virtual reality primarily concerns itself with simulating visual cues to generate seemingly real yet virtual environments. Placing a VR headset screen in front of the user's eyes eliminates any interaction with the real world. In a VR headset, there are two lenses. The user adjusts their eyes based on the individual movement of each eye and their relative positioning. An hdmi cable connected to a PC or a mobile phone can render visuals on the screen.

You can use visual, audio and haptic stimulation in virtual reality to make the simulated reality more immersive. Virtual reality provides a safe and controlled environment for simulating real-life experiences with little to no risk to the user. Medicine, culture, education and architecture are just a few of the fields that have already benefited from incorporating this technology.

Some Applications Of VR

Some of the applications of virtual reality include:

Automotive industry

By using virtual reality, engineers and designers can efficiently experiment with the look and build of a vehicle without commissioning expensive prototypes. By lowering the number of prototypes per vehicle line, virtual reality saves the automotive industry money, time and resources. It also helps car manufacturers analyse road layouts, risks and the behaviour of users on the road.

Education

VR has applications in the education sector for both teaching and learning. It enables students to converse and interact with one another in a 3D environment. Students can also go on virtual field trips to museums, take tours of the solar system and travel back in time to prehistoric eras. They can also explore and learn about the human body in detail, using this technology. Virtual reality can be beneficial, especially for students with special development needs.

Related: What Is A Special Education Teacher? (Skills And Salary)

Business

Many organisations embrace virtual reality as a cost-effective way to develop a product or service. It allows them to test a prototype without having to develop many versions, which may be time-consuming and costly. Several businesses employ virtual reality to assist with data analysis and trend predicting to get an advantage over their competition.

What Are The Primary Differences Between AR And VR?

The fundamental differences between AR and VR are:

  • AR enhances real-world scenes, whereas VR produces fully immersive virtual worlds.

  • With AR, users can interact with virtual items close to them while still being in contact with the physical world. When using VR technology, the user gets disconnects from the real world and immerses in an entirely simulated environment.

  • You can use AR technology with a mobile phone, tablet or laptop screen. To engage with VR, users require a headset and sometimes joysticks for navigation and other actions.

Related: How To List Programming Skills On A Resume (With Examples)

Explore more articles