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Current Applications of AR

Page history last edited by lmoorman@... 12 years, 2 months ago

How is AR being used today?


Augmented Reality (AR) is currently being used in disciplines such as medicine, engineering, tourism, and archeology, where these technologies help bring large data sets to life. The technologies are literally changing the way we see the world by creating 3D representations of abstract data merged into our visible reality.




 Although not true examples of AR because of the lack of interactivity, there are some commonly known AR-like applications in sports.  Broadcasts of NFL football, where the "first-down line"  is highlighted during the play is one such example. The "coloured trail" that tracks the location and direction of the puck in television broadcasts of hockey are another. These lines are computer images drawn over the live tv image to enhance understanding. A true AR application would show these elements to the stadium audience, and would likely involve annotated information about each player on the field or rink as well. AR is also used to identify and track and follow specific athletes or vehicles. 




Medical diagnostics or surgery can be enhanced by augmenting the body-view with a virtual X-ray view, visualization of anatomical elements, prior tomography,  or real time images from ultrasound or open NMR devices. Doctors can "see"  the orientation of a fetus in the womb, or positions of tumours in the body. Brain surgery in particular requires accurate knowledge of the various parts of the brain, and precise movement around the affected area. 


Surgery: Augmented Reality Visualization for Laproscopic Surgery 


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By inserting additional information into the field of view of a person looking at an engine or complex structure, labels and detailed instructions for handling individual parts can be made visible. This reduces significantly the amount of time spent changing focus from print manuals back to the system. BMW currently uses AR operationally. 



Augmenting the field of view of fighter pilots with navigation and landscape information has been one of the most practiced applications of augmented reality, and one that may be the most commonly known to the general public. 


The information relevant to military personnel may include instructions, maps, or enemy locations. The display may be either on a vehicle screen or on a wearable device.





Social Networking

  With personal GPS or radio frequency identification, augmented reality technology can enable automatic identification of people and provide relevant information about hem. People can be classified and grouped according to any number of criteria, including identifying them as members of specific social networks. Applications can range from social networking to international security and politics

Navigation and Emergency Services


Much like the heads-up display for fighter pilots, common vehicle windshields can be platforms for viewing augmented information, including navigation and positional information.

Environmental: hydrology, ecology, geology


Environmental solutions are often enabled by the ability to visualize what is underground. Many environmental projects focus on unseen processes - groundwater flow, rock formations and stratigraphy - and knowing the location of subsurface utilities. Seeing the surficial terrain relief merged with such reference data helps in understanding extremely complex environments.  Displays and interactive analyses of terrain characteristics, and interactive three-dimensional maps that could be collaboratively modified and analyzed, are tools that AR can enable to provide valuable information and perspective to prospectors, geologists, resource managers, and utility companies and many others.



Virtual resurrection of destroyed historic buildings as well as simulation of planned construction projects are important AR applications. The in-situ visualization of buildings, neighbourhoods, parks, both past and future, allows architects, urban planners, developers, and archeologists to understand the site specific situation of these constructs, as well as their past or potential effects on landscape and society. 


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AR aids in the design and marketing of prototypes, extremely useful in engineering and manufacturing. There are also many creative business solutions enabled by AR. The augmentation will not only be visual, but auditory and olifactory as well. Smelly maps, tagging areas of the map with specific smells, are a new research topic at Carleton University in Ottawa.  


The first augmented reality print advertisement was produced in the fall of 2007 to great success. Proponents claim that AR will revolutionize marketing and promotional strategies.


Wearable mobile computing and locational devices will change the way in which information about our surroundings is accessed and utilized. 


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A subset of mobile AR is tourism. The tourism applications of augmented reality are boundless. Currently, AR provides an excellent means of exploring urban areas by providing instant reference information (building names, place names, direction, informative annotation). Historical scenarios are increasing, informed by archeological and anthropological evidence, whereby visitors can walk through real places today, but experience what those places were like in the past, through augmented sight and sound.   




A comprehensive list of podcasts and videoclips showcasing many applications of AR can be found at:



      As a next step, view the Wiki page: “Next Steps for AR” for examples 

      of predicted future AR  usage across industries.


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