#Augmented Reality

The Augmented Reality Mirrorworld.

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

The term “mirrorworld” when used in relation to digital media was first coined by David Gelernter in 1991, and whilst many of us don’t know what it is, we have all glimpsed into it at one point or another. The Mirrorworld is basically a digital representation of the real world – a 1:1 scale map. And every time you have used Google Street View, you have glimpsed a limited portion of it. In that case, you only see flat images, stitched together, but the onset of VR is unstoppable. Soon enough, every single place in the real world will have been documented digitally.

Think about it, how many places have already been scanned with Pokémon GO? How much of the real world has been mapped by Google? By fusing all these pieces of data together, we will be able to create a digital landscape, the scale of which has never been seen before. And because it is digital, we will be able to interact with it. Because in effect, we are interacting with the digital clone of the real world. This, incidentally, is what differentiates the Mirrorworld from a virtual world. A virtual world is a completely artificial construct. It has no grounding in reality. Whereas the mirror world is based exclusively on the real world, which is what makes it so useful.

Initial, what we will be able to do will be limited. We will be able to see pop ups giving us helpful annotations and pieces of information that may be useful. Then we will be to visit places in the mirrorworld we’ve never been to before in the real. How, because someone has been there. Because someone has caught a Pokémon there, or scanned it with a piece of wearable tech. We will be able to jump from place to place, like Nightcrawler from the X-Men, all from our living room, just as we might jump from website to website. And in terms of video games, the possibilities are unbelievable. Imagine being able to create a tangible 3-D map for your free-roaming video game, which spans the entire world. Where the main character can interact with a map vaster than anything previously conceived.

When the mirrorworld become a fully-fledged technological reality, these are just a few, limited idea about what it will be capable of. And the companies that thrive in this new world will be some of the most successful in history. What will hinder development, however, is what holds back AR today, price and usability. Until headsets become cheaper, they’ll be rarely used. And if they are rarely used, cloning the entire world into a digital map is going to be a slow process. The same problem arises when we think about the practicalities of current AR technology. Even if the mirrorworld was fully completed, to interact with it, we would have to use the current crop of bulky, unwieldy headsets. This might be acceptable in a home environment, but eventually we would hope that we can access it on the move, a la Pokémon GO. For this to ever be a reality, the technology would have to advance to a point where we can access the mirrorworld from something more comfortable and practical, like a pair of normal glasses.

Another thing to bear in mind is the potential psychological effects of the mirrorworld. We are already aware of how our lives are affected by other digital landscapes i.e the internet. For something as vast and immersive as the mirrorworld, its almost completely unpredictable as to how it will affect us. And security is going to be an issue, especially with a digital interface which literally everyone can interact with. But these potential difficulties should dissuade us from developing what could be the next great tech platform.

This isn’t to say that headsets will be replaced, but technology like this does open the door to VR technologies that can include seeing and talking to other people.

How can augmented reality save lives?

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

The potential uses for AR are practically limitless, and nowhere will it have a bigger effect than in the healthcare sector. Not only that, slowly but surely, society is moving towards the mass adoption of the technology, into our everyday lives and beyond.

Augmented reality is simply the enhancement of our experiences via the overlay of additional information. Recently, the developments in AR have come in the form of headsets and glasses, which once put on, allow us to perceive the real world, with various additions, which range dramatically depending on what technology is being used for.

Surgery is one such use, and experts predict that healthcare is going to be one of the industries to benefit most from augmented reality. Allowing students to train using one pair of AR goggles, as opposed to cadavers, will be a more efficient and affordable way for them to learn, and this potential use is already well documented. But there are other possibilities as well. One is the notion that medical scans and charts can be overlaid onto a patient’s body as the surgeon is operating. This would allow for collaboration in real time between doctors on opposite sides of the world, amongst other things.

The current issue is that in order to operate a piece of AR tech in this manner, clear and sometimes complicated voice commands or hand gestures are required, to do things like scroll down a menu, for example. This means that the surgeon’s attention is divided between operating on the patient and trying to navigate the operating system of whichever piece of AR tech they are using. Obviously, this is undesirable, as one would hope that when operating, the surgeon can fully focus on the task at hand, rather than trying to make some complicated piece of technology work.

But this problem may soon be solved. Using brain sensors in a pair of goggles, the headset can pick up, and react to, electrical activity in the brain of the surgeon, allowing them to control medical images, navigate menus, and zoom in and out, all with the power of their mind. Thus, their hands remain free, and their focus undivided. This development has huge potential, not only in the healthcare industry, but every sector, and the power to manipulate data with our mind makes the widespread adoption of AR more likely.

Using augmented reality to engage, your customers

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

The consumer of today demands an interactive experience. Not only that, the experience needs to be tailored to the needs of the individual customer. Because of this, virtual and augmented reality technology is on the rise, and the industry is expected to grow even further. As more and more people get on board with the technology, the more developments are made, and the more possibilities open up, especially on mobile devices.

When creating these experiences, however, marketers need to have a good understanding of the wants and needs of their customers. Without this, what they create will annoy, not immerse. And all it takes is one bad experience, and your relationship with a customer can be ruined, so it needs to be right first time.

One of the key things to remember is that you don’t want to use AR tech for the sake of it.

Don’t try to sell and experience on the strength of the technology, because no matter how advanced it may be, if the content isn’t good enough, then people will ignore it. Using AR won’t make a boring experience engaging, it will turn people away and make it just as hard to get your message across as if you weren’t using augmented reality.

Done right though, an AR experience can can convince consumers that they are making their purchases on a deeper level, keeping them engaged and enthralled as they virtually try your product before purchasing. It also allows all this to be achieved in real time, wherever the customer might be, which is vital. All of this means that, when done correctly, you allow your customers to build a deeper relationship with your brand than ever before.

One of the things that AR can do, that perhaps other marketing technology cannot, is quickly build an emotional connection between your audience and your brand. It can bring stories to life, and combined with the tailored experience, this generates within your customers an emotional reaction that is difficult to mimic without the technology. But again, the content is key. When a customer takes the time to interact with your brand, they want the relationship created to be real. If they suspect it is superficial, then you will never create the connection you desire. AR used incorrectly can feel gimmicky, and if a customer feels as though they are being duped by complex technology masking low quality content, then they are unlikely to feel valued, and therefore, unlikely to use your service or buy your product.

AR allows for a relationship to develop that is unlike anything that previous marketing technology would allow for, but, like earlier tech, must be used in conjunction with great content. Without this, then the experience will be ineffective, whatever the format.

How AR gaming can surpass players’ previous expectations.

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

AR gaming has been a hugely successful development in the industry, and we can expect to see the technology getting better and cheaper as there is more investment. But for many people currently, the experience is still off-limits and if we do get our hands on the games, it is rarely, and not for long.

The success of the games lies in their hyper-realistic immersion. By incorporating player’s actual environments, this experience is heightened, to the point where players truly feel like they are in the game, as opposed to controlling a character. Generally, the more invested we are in a piece of media, the more we enjoy the experience, and one sure fire way to generate investment it to allow players total immersion. This is known as “spatial presence,” where we feel as though the game is real, and its successful implementation is a key element of AR, and what sets it apart from traditional video games.

Augmented Reality also can create the illusion of 3-dimensions and depth using 2-dimensional figures and sprites. Players create a mental model in their heads of the games fictional space, which, either consciously or unconsciously, builds a 3-D view of the world. There is a definite shift from viewing games as products to be sold, to experiences to be had. The use of avatars as representatives of people in the real world, be it the player or non-playable characters, allows us to create idealised versions of ourselves, become more engrossed in the game world, and boost our level of immersion. This may be due to the fact that when we can identify with the character, their fate affects us more significantly.

The difficulty of AR games is one of the selling points. Provided the challenge isn’t to extreme, working towards meaningful and difficult goals creates real investment in the game, and upon victory, the feeling of elation and flood of endorphins encourages the player to return to the AR world. Provided we feel the challenge is passable, then we are willing to fail over and over again, learning from our mistakes to eventually succeed, and this level of dedication is tied to the level of immersion. The more immersive, the more dedicated you will be, and this is where AR excels. And conversely, even hard games can be excellent forms of stress relief, and augmented reality ones are no exception, especially shooters. The well documented positive feelings created when playing video games can provide a form of cathartic release for stress and has been shown to help in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

What is phone to phone Augmented Reality? And what impact will it have?

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

Augmented Reality, or AR, is technology that overlays information onto the real world, allowing us to interact with ordinarily abstract data on a physical level. Via a smartphone, we can see information such information superimposed onto our surroundings. Nowhere has this been more influential than Pokémon Go, along with other AR applications and games.

The industry is only expected to swell, and as a result, many different companies, like Apple and Google, are rushing to develop their own AR technology. This includes platforms and toolkits, using which, developers can create new AR apps on their smartphones, with no modifications to the phone being required. The more developers on the respective platforms, the more new and revolutionary ways of putting AR to good use, and thus, more revenue for the companies whose toolkits they use.

The next big development will be to allow two different users to see the same virtual object, in the same space, on their individual devices. Now that isn’t to say that the technology doesn’t already exist, it does. The problem is that at the moment, for two people to see the same object, a scan of the environment is required, and the mapping data is collected. This raises privacy issues, and how companies use, or misuse, personal information has become a huge taking point in recent years. If two users, for example, scan their houses in order to see the same virtual object, and a data breach allows the mapping information to be stolen, for example, then suddenly the inside of one’s home is made common knowledge.

So the trick is to find a way to let two users see the same object, without requiring a scan of one’s current location. From a creative perspective, the phone to phone connectivity would be revolutionary, and open the door to a whole new world of possibilities, from video games and beyond. Imagine, for example, on a construction site. Workers will all be able to see the same underground pipe, which would go a long way to preventing accidents which could cost not only money, but lives. Or two architects who can both see a visual model of the building they are designing on-location, and can therefore streamline the design process. But if one wants to upscale, it isn’t clear how this phone to phone network could support any more than two users, and if it could, whether it would be work properly. And there are privacy issues to consider if the technology is to be fully embraced.

In conclusion, phone to phone AR opens up a lot of possibilities. Video game developers are excited, and the potential applications go far beyond that to all industries. But there are a number of privacy issues to consider, and the security of the user needs to be guaranteed in order for the technology to be adopted.

Check Out Our DeepFrame One at the Great Exhibition of the North

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We are delighted to be headlining the country’s largest event of 2018 – The Great Exhibition of the North – with Animmersion’s unique revolutionary mixed-reality display, DeepFrame One.

The event – launched 22nd June – will feature a programme of exhibits, live performances, displays of innovation, new artworks and experiences packed into 80 days and spread across three hubs in the city of Newcastle. 

We are proud to be showcasing these experiences through the UK’s first DeepFrame One – invented by the Danish company Realfiction – which is set to change the way viewers see things. Merging the real and virtual world allows viewers to experience lifelike visuals never before seen without the use of traditional and immersive VR eyewear.

With a window like display, the DeepFrame One is the largest mixed-reality display of its kind and will be featuring in The Great Exhibition of the North for nine weeks across some of the exhibition’s key venues.  These include:

·        Eldon Square for two weeks showcasing how car showrooms could look int the future together with a Lego display that will include some of the most breath-taking visuals

·        The Hancock Museum for a further six weeks where an incredible raptor experience will take viewers into the prehistoric world together with a commissioned artist, Arcus Studios, that take the viewer on a journey through five hundred and seventy million years of Earth’s history, stopping off at the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras

·        The Sage Gateshead where the public will be invited to create their own immersive musical experience encompassing some of the North Easts best known landmarks.

As one of the most high-profile and visually stimulating events that the region has seen for some time, we are absolutely delighted to have been asked to be an integral part of this through the use of the DeepFrame One.

To find out more about the event, please click here.