What’s new in the field of Augmented Reality
For many years technology companies have spoken about the potential of virtual and augmented reality, but now that there are headsets, helmets and glasses coming to the market, it seems the development is finally about to break through.
While virtual reality on the one hand replaces the real world with a simulated one, augmented reality blends both virtual components and real life together. This means that users can interact with virtual content while still being in the real world and therefore will be able to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t.
A report from Digi-Capital showed that in 2015 $700 million were invested in the field of augmented and virtual reality. The overall trends also show that those investments are constantly rising.
Apple’s acquisition of the augmented reality company metaio in May 2015 drew a lot of attention to the field of augmented reality. The AR startup that was launched back in 2003 worked on many impressive projects. Ranging from applications that offer potential car buyers an augmented reality tour of the car, to an application that show travelers what the city of Berlin looked like when the Berlin Wall was still up, while they are walking through the streets. With customers and users in over 30 countries worldwide, metaio built up a big community.
What’s new and what’s to come in the field of Augmented Reality
Even though the year 2016 has basically just began, investments in the field of AR have already been made. Only about a week ago the augmented reality computer vision startup Wrnch announced a Series A raise of $1.8 million. The round was led by Marc Cuban’s Radical Ventures, followed by Aligo Innovation, gr0k and TandemLaunch Ventures.
Apart from investments being made, new technologies are being developed and introduced to the community.
Epson, a manufacturer of printers and projectors, but also a pioneer of new technologies has just announced its new smart glasses at the Mobile World Congress 2016. The Moverio BT-300 is the latest addition to their line of products. This new model offers many advances over previous models. Not only is it lighter and less bulky, it most importantly offers a new display and a much better resolution. The shift from an LCD-based glass display to a display projection system called Si-OLED (which stands for Silicon Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is the biggest improvement in comparison to previous models.
In the beginning of the year Intel launched a set of glasses built into a helmet that allow wearers to see into different kinds of objects. Designed for industrial use, these glasses will allow workers to practically look through pipes or other solid objects by overlaying information, such as schematics. The smart helmet has been tested by various companies and will be available in the next couple of months.
Many of the devices being offered, like the smart glasses or helmets were designed with an industrial use in mind. There are quite a few companies who are focusing on consumer devices as well. The start-up Skully for example produced an augmented reality motorcycle helmet: the idea behind it is to avoid having to take your eyes off the road ahead of you. Therefore Skully’s AR-1 helmet offers riders a variety of hands-free services, ranging from GPS navigation and making calls, to a built-in 180° Blindspot Camera – all through the helmet screen.
Upcoming Events with a focus on AR
As the augmented reality scene is growing bigger and bigger, different events and conferences are now being offered to display new technology and developments, for example, the Wearable Technology Show which is going to place in London from the 15th to the 16th of March. The Augmented Reality Show, which is the largest independent event for AR, VR and development tools in Europe, will also take place alongside the Wearable Technology Show. With over 200 speakers the show will offer a wide-ranging program and visitors will be able to see some of the latest and most innovative products in the expo hall.
Another interesting event coming up is the 7th Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara from the 1st to the 2nd of June. The event will be based on the slogan “superpowers to the people” and also offers in-depth talks, workshops and demos.
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Photo in text: ©Epson