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What is Augmented Reality?

Updated: Mar 11

The smartphone and tablet PC craze that has swept the world since several years ago is changing not only the consumption tendency but also the lifestyle patterns. As such, these days IT devices have a very close relationship with our daily lives. That is because anyone can easily use the new technology that can only be seen in movies. One of the representative new technologies is “Augmented Reality”.



However, many people confuse 'Virtual Reality (VR)' with augmented reality. Virtual reality uses a virtual image that is both the self (object) and the background/environment is not real, whereas augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a 3D virtual image on a real image or background to display a single image. Augmented reality is also referred to as mixed reality (MR), and 'augmented reality' was introduced to the world for the first time around 1990 when 'Boeing', an airplane manufacturer, added virtual images to the airplane assembly process.

Augmented reality is a very complex and difficult image technology internally, but basically it works in the following principle and order. There are several things necessary to apply augmented reality technology, a GPS device that transmits and receives geographic/location information, a gravity (tilt + electronic compass) sensor (or gyroscope sensor), and a location information system that stores detailed information according to this information (Internet connection required), an augmented reality application that receives detailed information and displays it on a real background, and finally an IT device (smartphone, tablet PC) that will output it to the display.

First, when the user (after running the augmented reality application) illuminates a specific street or building with a built-in camera (cam) such as a smartphone, the current location's latitude/longitude information, tilt/gravity information, etc. are temporarily recorded on the smartphone through the GPS receiver. Then, this GPS information is transmitted to a specific location information system over the Internet. This is because it is practically impossible to store all detailed information of an area or building within the radius of the location on a smartphone.

Upon receiving GPS information such as location/tilt from the user, the location information system searches for detailed information of a corresponding area or object in its own database and transmits the result back to the smartphone. It contains, of course, the name of the specific building and phone number. The smartphone that receives this data is matched with the current map information through an augmented reality application and then displayed on a real-time screen. Since the above data transmission/reception step is continuously maintained and performed, detailed information on the area and surroundings is sequentially displayed on the screen when passing the distance with the smartphone.



Google Glass has received the most attention as a device using augmented reality technology. These smart glasses, which were developed and released by Google on a trial basis, are worn on the eyes like regular glasses, and Google Android operating system is built-in like a smartphone, so you can search the Internet, take photos, get directions, and use SNS through glasses. Google Glass basically operates with voice commands, and it is mounted on a prism for screen output on one lens, so a virtual screen about 25 inches in size appears in front of the user's eyes.



Meanwhile, blind spots caused by augmented reality technology cannot be excluded. It is certain to make everyday life convenient and enriching, but there may be situations where you are completely enchanted by the virtual world and cannot distinguish between reality and virtual. It's similar to the case where you can't lead a normal life because you fall into computer online games. In addition, since the augmented reality technology so far has been concentrated on advertising-type and publicity-type content, there is concern that it will only focus on single-shot attention in the future.


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