The development of AR platforms could catalyse ground-breaking developments

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Two competing AR platforms, one developed by Google, and the other by Apple, could be the battleground upon which new and ground-breaking developments in the field of AR occur.

Apples ARKit hasn’t even been launched yet, but developers are already creating a variety of different demos for a number of toy-like apps.

But the platform has the potential to host more serious programs, like the Ikea app demonstrated at a recent conference, where users can size up real furniture and how it would fit in their room, from their phone.

And Ikea aren’t the only big company Apple have teamed up with, developments with The Food Network, AMC TV and Giphy have all been announced. The platform is easy to use, and allows you to go from idea to finished app in merely 6-8 weeks. With Apples giant audience, the ARKit will be used by Mac, Iphone and IPad developers, which will create huge interest in the kit, and promote greater developments in the field.

And Google, eager to put themselves on the forefront of progress, have also developed their own AR platform, called ARCore, which is akin to ARKit, and will be available for Google’s 100 million Android users. ARCore is built into Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy 8 phones, and Google is apparently developing 2 experimental AR platforms, one of which can support Apples ARKit.

But even with all these developments we need to avoid the propensity for gimmicky, one-trick pony apps and the fact that they tend to drain battery life rather quickly will continue to be barriers preventing AR from entering mainstream consciousness quickly.

AR can be a fantastic tool, used for so much more than merely overlaying cartoon like characters on the world around us.


What are the next steps for AR technology in construction?

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Recently, construction sites have begun investing in augmented reality in order to avoid a new phenomenon of ‘alarm fatigue’. This is where the huge number of machines and devices sounding alarms make it difficult for workers to distinguish what is a normal sound and a life-threatening alert.

Construction companies are using the layering of data and information over real-time visual interfaces, augmented reality, in order to minimise the risk of information being overload on a worker.

These ideas are being developed to ameliorate nursing work flows in busy hospitals and A&E, where staff is overworked and the hospitals are overcrowded, with the abundance of noise and blinking lights making it impossible to differentiate which is which.

Despite these technologies being developed we have not yet reached the stage where our information is being streamlined and prioritised in the most efficient way possible, hopefully eventually being used in everyday life, not just refined for job sites.

In 2016, AR technology was developed for car manufacturing companies to identify problems in the engine of cars and then illustrate repair operations, or shadow areas that need checking. This technology also allows the user to draw on items and take screenshots, freeze, zoom in and out, and it even has a low power mode.

Furthermore, there is a ‘smart helmet’ being invented, featuring a thermal imaging camera and infrared image projection to the helmet visor. A tracking camera enables the eye to hover and highlight AR buttons and side menus in the display.

Augmented reality has become more and more frequently used in construction drones as well, used for remote inspection of infrastructure, and remote imaging of job sites conditions. Additionally, AR can be used for the drone pilots, who can access flight information without looking away from the drone.

There are many different ways AR can be used on sites, and eventually for everyday life. The technology doesn’t have far to go either – we can expect the next 10 years to be holding huge changes in how we view Augmented Reality developments.

Compelling Reasons to use Augmented Reality

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Augmented Reality, or AR, is typically when a computer system overlays digital information over the real world. This differs from virtual reality because VR, because that involves creating an entirely new, computer generated world to immerse the user.

Because of this Augmented reality systems have the potential to be even more useful that virtual reality in a business context, and therefore we ought to strive to incorporate it into our marketing models. There are many potential uses for the technology, and many benefits regarding its successful implementation.

When you consider that most of the adult population carry with them a tool capable of supporting intensive AR every day, the potential to reach your audience with something useful, valuable and engaging is obvious.

For one thing AR can improve our understanding of the environment around our audience. Overlaying information about your location has a myriad of uses in several different fields. From finding information about the house you are looking at buying, or an animation indicating where the foundations of a building are, the possibilities are virtually endless. In the construction industry for example, even the slightest miscalculation, or an estimate that was off by a few centimetres, can have very damaging consequences.

For example, if we look at pipes in the road, AR can overlay images of those pipes, so that workers doing repairs know with 100% accuracy where they are, and where to avoid.

A construction site is a dangerous environment with lots of heavy machinery. Safety, therefore, is a top priority. Having increased awareness of what’s going on around you could be a potentially life-saving benefit of incorporating augmented reality into this particular industry. The advantages of increased perception and awareness of the world around you can translate to a number of different industries.

Another interesting use for AR is in the field of personalised advertising. Being able to measure how someone responds to certain stimuli, for example, how they react to certain products, could allow companies to create personally tailored, individualised advertising campaigns.

We are a long way from the hyper intensive world of ‘Minority Report’, but if you combine AR with other measurement systems then then the possibilities become almost endless, and in many ways concerning. An example of this could involve a supermarket measuring the heart rate of customers when they walk past certain products, eye tracking combined with purchase patterns, could revolutionise our buying experience. Next time the customer goes shopping, the supermarket can specifically advertise the products they reacted favourably to, as well as suggesting similar items.

AR systems can also be used to guide engineers and mechanics. For example, one such system could be used to quickly display a diagnostic of a faulty car engine, allowing the mechanic to efficiently go about their repair work. While the world of Haynes Manuals and self repair may be behind most of us. Simple AR representations of how to change oil, tyres, jacking points would be invaluable. Augmented reality can also be used to improve the effectiveness of remote help hugely.

Providing virtual training aids via AR in the real world could also be revolutionary when it comes to training, across all fields. It could allow for cheaper and more efficient training for employees, which is useful for businesses of all sizes.

From engineering to medicine, every industry would benefit from being able to deliver training via AR. It is far easier for a trainee plumber to practice on a virtual water system over and over until they get the process right than to use physical pipes. It also means that if mistakes are made in the training process, rather than wasting resources, the training program can simply be reset, which saves lots of money in the long run, offsetting the relatively high initial cost of these AR systems.


How will augmented reality affect the future of business?

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The way we view the real world is rapidly changing, with the advent, and availability, of augmented reality technology. The market for virtual and augmented reality is predicted to reach $150 billion by 2020, but only $30 billion of that will be spent on VR. The rest will invested in augmented reality, which will change the way we interact with everything.

Augmented Reality is when the real world is overlaid with elements augmented by a computer. This allows the user to have a changed, often improved, perspective on reality. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is when the real world is completely replaced with a computer generated one. The Pokémon Go app is a prime example of AR, where places in the real world have virtual information and images over them.

AR provides an opportunity for businesses to give their customers new experiences. The possibility that customers could try out and test different products before purchasing them is exciting, but it is not only customers that may benefit. When it comes to training staff, the potential applications of augmented reality are just as exiting. For example, a trainee can try different procedures numerous times until they get it right, without costing the company anything.

Training can also be far more advanced than before. It is far more simple, easy and convenient to learn how to repair something virtual, rather than investing on the real thing. There are applications within the field of medicine as well, with one company creating a fully accurate rendered skeleton that can be used for study and to run simulations of treatments upon.

Also, doctors could use AR glasses to detect symptoms during a diagnosis, to better understand what ails the patient, and how best to treat it. This idea that relevant information could be fed directly to the glasses, allowing the user instant access, has uses ranging from medicine, to car mechanics and training for any number of different lines of work.

So how far will it advance? Eventually the technology may reach a point where we have normal looking glasses that can display both the real world, and an augmented reality over it. If this were to come to fruition, then the possibilities would be endless. The cosmetics industry has begun to utilise AR more extensively, by allowing the customer to use different types of make up on a 3D rendered face, in order to decide what they like.

The pros and cons of Augmented Reality within the Construction industry

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Augmented Reality has bust into the forefront of our society in recent times, and it has the potential to revolutionize not only the construction industry, but our entire way of life.

However, at the moment, despite these recent developments, the technology has its limits, and these limits make it very difficult to incorporate augmented reality into construction sites.

With the onset of more affordable and less clunky AR goggles and glasses, such as the Oculus Rift or Google Glass, the possibilities seem endless. We could project information onto any surface, we could manipulate a 3D digital environment to suit our needs, and see exactly what would be required on any given construction site. This seems to be a way to save both time and money.

But upon inspection, there is on key problem. When involved in any construction project, our data must be 100% accurate all the time. One little issue, and a building can collapse, or a pipe can be ruptured, costing huge sums of money, and worse, putting the lives of the users at risk. If our AR displays look cool, and let us see all this data, but cannot be trusted by the user, then they are nothing more than a novelty, and a very expensive one at that.

Stéphane Côté provided an interesting response to this problem, using the example of a set of goggles that allowed workmen to see through the floor, to look at underground pipes. If the pipe showed up as green, the land had been surveyed recently, and the workmen could be certain that the position was accurate. If it was red, then its position wouldn’t be certain, and more surveying would be required.

Until we can be certain that the information being displayed is completely accurate, AR will struggle to be implemented in this industry.

Let us say that you are building a house. You take the wall and augment it with a door and some windows. This works brilliantly because the cameras on your AR goggles let you interact physically with a model of the wall. As nothing else is changing in real life, the cameras on your goggles create an image that remains completely accurate. But what about on a construction site, with the constant movement of people, heavy duty vehicles and materials. Currently, AR works better in static, unchanging situations, and when it has to show information that is constantly changing, it becomes less accurate.

Now, these problems are in the process of being solved, and developments are being made, especially in the gaming industry, where constantly changing, but accurate environments are being successfully simulated for the user.

Investment is AU headsets has been huge, and a lot of this money has gone into the design of the headsets, to make them as streamlined as possible. However, whenever you put on a set of AU goggles, you lose at least a little bit of your peripheral vision, and whilst every effort has been made with these new designs to minimise the amount of vision that you lose, a little bit of a blind spot in inevitable.

Now, in a design studio where you are creating a model, or in your living room playing a game, a little bit of blindness like this isn’t a problem. But on a construction site, that blind spot could be hiding a vehicle coming towards you, or a piece of material coming your way. The health and safety risk is enormous, and this is perhaps one of the most key hindrances when it comes to incorporating AR into our worksites. Until the risk to life in zero, you will be hard pressed to convince builders and engineers to wear these goggles.

If you’re considering incorporating any AR into your operation, at any level, it’s important to use an AR Development Company that understands these issues, and how to incorporate AR successfully.