Augmented reality (AR) is sometimes confused with virtual reality, though the two technologies are, in fact, distinctly different. Virtual reality offers the complete immersion into a virtual world through Oculus Rift technology, where you can interact with a virtual environment. On the other hand, AR is a digitally-enhanced layer of information (text, images, and sounds) overlaid on a real-life, tangible background, viewed through a lens, such as a smartphone camera.
Various industries, such as education, games, retail, navigation, and health care, are already using AR. Stargazing apps allow users to identify the stars and planets simply by pointing their phone at the sky. Translation apps use your phone’s camera to capture an image with text and translate it into the language of your choice. Retail giant IKEA launched an app in 2017 that allows people to superimpose furniture into their home so they can visualise it before buying it. Navigation apps can be projected onto your car’s windscreen, and AccuVein, which maps the veins on the body, is currently in use in the healthcare industry. There is great potential for augmented reality to become more widely used across a variety of industries such as marketing, military, real estate, and tourism. And with virtual and augmented technology market valued at $3 billion USD in 2017 and forcasted to reach $150 billion USD in 2020, it is an exciting sector that is expanding fast.
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Located in the Philippines, Zipmatch is the first company in Southeast Asia to use virtual and augmented reality technologies to showcase real estate to potential buyers through virtual tours. Using a combination of virtual and augmented reality technologies, brokers can bring properties to the buyers, who would otherwise be required to travel to various locations across the region. With over 300 properties, they have amassed a huge amount of images, property information, and resident reviews.
Singapore-based VizioFly is a media production company that specialises in 360-degree video, virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality content. They integrate animation and special effects to develop mobile apps for videos. VizioFly has worked with an impressive list of clients including Google, Louis Vuitton, Singapore University of Social Sciences, and the Central Narcotics Bureau, to develop marketing materials, product demonstrations, event documentation, and to create immersive environments for training, communication, and entertainment.
HiverLab designs and manufactures its own VR hardware solutions for aerial, underwater and remote-controlled 360-degree filming. They provide immersive technological solutions to advance storytelling and communication experiences. Employing virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality technology, they produce content to enhance human cognitive capabilities and have a social impact.
Their in-house platform, Storyhive, enables multi-user immersive guided or facilitated experiences. Combining their platform with their customised creative content and applications, their work has been used for training, education, corporate communication, marketing campaigns, public events, and virtual tourism, both regionally and globally. Based in Singapore, they also have offices in Cambodia, with plans to increase immersive technology throughout the region.
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Established in 2015 and based in Indonesia, Octagon Studio creates educational content using 3D and augmented reality. The app is free for download onto smartphones or tablets. Once installed, point the device at the Octagon Studio’s educational flashcards and 3D interactive content appears on the device. Available flashcard subjects include animal, human, space, cars, dinosaurs, and Octaland, a collection of imaginary characters employed in a variety of unique occupations, designed to inspire children to expand their horizons.
Engaging and interactive educational tools are just the beginning. Octagon Studio has bundled the Assemblr, a 3D modeling app you can use on mobile devices to build your own 3D models to share with friends, colleagues, and the patent library. The Assemblr app has templates based on cars, houses, humans, animals, and vehicles so even the youngest technophile can begin modeling immediately. Each template comes with several objects and shapes used to construct the model. Using simple touch-screen commands, and moving objects along an X, Y, or Z axes, you can construct models and save your project as either 3D or AR. With Octagon Studio’s 4D licensing, you can apply AR projects to printed materials. Imagine an AR business card to make a really bold, unforgettable statement.
Augmented reality provides an engaging, interactive, and, as yet, novel experience. Used with mobile apps, this technology promises to change the way we promote products and services, engineer and design tools of the future, and educate and entertain our children and ourselves. Through AR, the visual experience is memorable, mobile, and easily transferable. And with the technology starting to infiltrate our digital world while becoming increasingly affordable and easy to use, we believe we can expect to see more augmented reality in our everyday lives to come.