The10 things you need to know about augmented reality!


1. What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality is a way of fusing the real and the virtual world by overlaying digital data on to real-world analogue views. Augmented reality applications are appearing in products as diverse as T-shirts on fashion cat walks, interactive games,

2. How does it work?

Applications generally use one of two approaches: marker-based and location-based.

Markers work by having software recognise a particular pattern, such as a barcode or symbol, when a camera points at it, and overlaying a digital image at that point on the screen. If the image is three-dimensional or animated, the effect is of a digital experience unfolding on the surface upon which the pattern is printed.

Location-based applications use the ability of a particular device to record its position in the world and then offer data that’s relevant to that location: finding your way around a city, remembering where you parked the car, naming the mountains around you or the stars in the sky.

3. What’s different about developing augmented reality applications?

Most augmented reality applications rely on superimposing either 3D-generated computer imagery or some form of descriptive knowledge over the real-time images obtained through a camera, webcam or phone. This requires a good understanding of image processing and computer vision techniques, mainly for tracking either markers or the natural features on which this imagery is superimposed.

Computer-generated imagery has to look realistic and be properly aligned with the real environment in order to create an authentic impression. Most of the applications are designed for the general public so a good understanding of intuitive user interfaces is also required to provide a seamless experience.

4. What other skills do you need?

AR developers chiefly need a mixture of advanced computer vision skills, 3D modelling and desktop, web or mobile programming. A grasp of 3D modelling should include texturing, shading and rendering.

Preferred programming languages can vary according to the platform but are usually C++ and C#.

Last, but not least, the bleeding-edge nature of the field means that would-be AR developers should have a passion for pushing the boundaries of new technologies. Keeping abreast of new research in the field is a must – a lot of the technologies come from university-based R&D projects.

5. Are there any AR platforms to work with?

The Dutch-based company Layar has a platform, or augmented reality browser, that runs on the iPhone 3G and Google’s Android. Layar works by using a combination of the mobile phone’s camera, compass and GPS data to identify the user’s location and field of view, retrieve data based on those geographical coordinates, and overlay that data over the camera view.

Qualcomm has also unveiled a new software development kit for the Google Android operating system that will make it easier for developers to create new augmented reality apps for devices running Google’s mobile operating system.

6. How can you get into AR?

One of the simplest ways is to develop for an existing platform such as Layar is to join the thriving community of developers busy utilising the browser to deliver functionality.

C2K is one such developer with its Conquar game, which handles most of the game engine – usernames and logins etc – on the C2K server. Developers code in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) to the platform and Layar is then responsible for making it display on the iPhone and Android phones.

Through the API of Layar and JSON, developers can make use of the triggers such as a web view and also place action buttons such as watch video, listen to audio and call a phone number. This kind of data is provided with PHP.

7. Where’s AR going to be big?

The world of retail is one sector with myriad opportunities for augmented reality applications, especially on-line. Here, the lack of the ‘try-on’ phase before buying for many products including fashion, jewellery, watches, glasses and home products is an incentive for companies to try out augmented reality applications.

Holition is one augmented reality retailer offering these real-time try on opportunities. This can be combined with providing extra information for the products being displayed.

8. What about education?

The technology offers many opportunities to support experiential and location-based learning by layering data and information on top of the real-world.

Adding historical context to a particular place, highlighting geometric shapes and hidden angles in buildings are just a couple of examples of ways that lessons could be brought to life.

The explosion in popularity of mobile phone apps offers hundreds of possibilities for educators to bring AR into the classroom with relative ease. Apps like Pocket Universe provide star maps relative to your location and offer educators the opportunity to bring objects that are traditionally seen ‘out there’ right into the classroom

9. What’s the future for augmented reality?

Perhaps the biggest innovations will come when we step away from the screen. At the moment the majority of AR applications use a camera and screen of some kind, and while the effects are often spectacular, the screen still acts as a barrier.

10. Any other uses?

AR has been around for a long time. One of the oldest examples is the double exposure technique by which the impression of a ghost can be created on stage. The military also equips pilots with goggles that provide a layer of radar data over the real-world view to enable them to target missile attacks.



In this module I will be exploring digital media and the applications available to me to expand my creativity with my photography.

I will be looking at and researching artworks, photographs, digital apps and augmented reality apps.

The research will inform me and help me develop a better understanding of digital environments and understand its context for creative photographic imagery.

The assignment attached to this module gives me two options.


This should be focused on marketing The Batley School Of Arts. I need to investigate, explore and innovate a creative promotion for the art school.


I need to explore the potential for the use of images (in the broadest sense) to help improve the live of others.

I have chosen to research and explore Option A for my assignment.


Difference between augmented reality and virtual reality


The difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is the level of immersion. Virtual reality is based upon a complete simulation of a real world environment which the user can explore and interact with by means of a head mounted display (HMD) and input device, e.g. data glove. The user loses or immerses themselves in this environment.

But with augmented reality the user sees the real world but with the addition of computer generated images which are overlaid on various objects within the real world. They are still aware that they are in the real world as compared to the full immersion in a virtual world. They use a device such as a smartphone or a wearable device – complete with a webcam – which contains software that recognises an image and helps displays this onto an object.

Virtual reality replaces the real with the artificial whereas augmented reality enhances real life with artificial images.

Augmented reality is available via mobile phones in particular smartphones such as the iPhone. These phones have GPRS which obtains information about a particular geographical location which can be overlaid with tags etc. Images, videos etc can be superimposed onto this location.

Handheld devices such as smartphones and the iPad are other ways to use augmented reality. They contain software, sensors, a compass and small digital projectors which display images onto real world objects. Another option is a head mounted display (HMD) which is often used in virtual reality applications.

An important issue is that of successfully integrating computer generated images within the real world. They need to be realistic and useful to be of real benefit to the user.

Virtual reality and augmented reality use much of the same technology to provide enriched experiences for users. Augmented systems add something to the existing environment to enhance the real world, while virtual systems actually create an entirely new reality. Both have a wide range of applications, from advertising to psychotherapy, and a number of companies have investments in one or both technologies. They are also subjects of research at academic institutions and private organizations.

In the case of virtual reality, the key characteristic is that with the use of a computer system, the user enters an entirely immersive world. Everything around the user is fabricated by the system. This may display inside a blank room, headset, or other device that allows the user to feel present in the virtual environment. Some virtual reality also offers features like feedback in the form of sound or touch to allow the user to interact with objects and spaces. This simulates real-world experiences in an entirely built environment.

In contrast, augmented reality takes place in the real world, with added virtual elements. These can include sounds, sensations, or images generated by a computer system. Haptic feedback which consists of vibrations and other sensations on computer equipment, for example, is a form of augmented reality that enhances the experience for the operator. Likewise, advertising campaigns that involve projections of images into real-world spaces are another type of augmented reality

There can be a blend between virtual reality and augmented reality. Features like haptic feedback in a virtual video game could be considered augmentations, rather than strict virtual reality. Conversely, people may work in a real-world environment with a simulated construct that closely approaches those seen in virtual reality. Passengers at an air terminal, for instance, might talk to a holographic representation of an airline employee.

The applications for virtual reality and augmented reality are considerable. Both are of interest to the entertainment industry, which constantly seeks new ways to appeal to consumers. Immersive, rich environments provide opportunities for gaming, interactive websites, and other forms of entertainment. In the sciences, such tools can be used for activities like remote surgery, treating patients with post traumatic stress disorder, and simulating natural disasters and other events. Training tools with a virtual reality element can offer a chance for people to experience things that are rare or dangerous in real life to get experience they may find useful in their work.