What Is Augmented Reality?

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

Augmented reality is one of the fastest growing technologies and app developments around these days.  But a lot of people are asking what is augmented reality?

Augmented Reality: The Basics

If you ever watched an NFL game, you know what augmented reality is. You know that yellow first down line you see on your television but isn’t actually on the playing field?  That’s augmented reality.  The line that you see is a computer generated graphic that exists on your screen but not on the actual football field. The field is the reality and the yellow first down line is a graphic imposed over that reality.  The melding of reality and objects, that’s Augmented reality (AR) in a very simple nutshell.

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

Augmented reality is different from virtual reality.  Virtual reality is a term that has had more popularity in the past decade and more non-tech folks are familiar with.  Virtual reality can conjure up images of strapping on gigantic Darth Vader helmets while flailing for invisible 3D objects but we can assure you technology has grown since the initial days of laser tag.   Virtual reality is based on creating a simulated reality while augmented reality is about intersecting the real world in real time with a computer generated components.  Augmented reality is focused on enhancing what is actually occurring in your world through sensory based additions such as visual graphics or audio clips.

Explaining AR with bare bones basics just doesn’t do it justice because it’s actually way more exciting than superimposed images on your television.  This video of an augmented reality project by Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry called “SixthSense” was presented at the TED conference.  The augmented reality system they created shows how AR technology can be a more organic, natural extension of interacting and integrating with technology.  This bridge between technology and individuals is at the heart of augmented reality and Maes and Mistry have developed practical ways to incorporate it such as projecting a keypad onto a user’s hand to make a phone call and a superimposed personal tag cloud appearing above a person’s head.  Check out the video to gain a greater understanding of how AR is developing and stay tuned for more in our series on what is augmented reality.

Creative Commons Augment El Paso Exhibit + Visit El Paso” by visitelpaso is licensed under CC BY 2.