In its March 2014 report titled “Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Market,” global market research firm MarketsandMarkets predicted that augmented reality’s compound annual growth rate will increase by 15 percent over the next three years, making it a $1 billion industry by 2018. The buzz around this technology, and its relation to second screen content, and QR codes, means that this technology is being developed at an alarming rate, in hundreds of different fields, from medicine, and nature conservation, to video games, and museum artefacts.
The idea of incorporating augmented reality into media artefacts is typically left for mobile gaming. Pokemon Go was 2016’s most downloaded app, with over 20 million active users per day, knocking King’s Candy Crush off the top spot. (Fortune, 2016) The popularity can be summarised in its use of augmented reality. Players are encouraged to capture Pokemon (Pocket Monsters) in their real world surroundings, adding an element of realism that’s been missing from the game’s 20+ year history. This process is nothing new however, Pokemon have just managed to capitalise on the technology. Nintendo, the publishers of Pokemon aren’t new to this technology either. The 3DS, released in 2011, originally came with a group of cards with QR codes included. When scanned into the system’s camera, everything from video game character models, to weird ‘spy camera’ games could be accessed. One such game, Face Raiders, came pre-downloaded to the system. It allowed players to take a photo of their face, which would appear on a little flying aircraft. They were encouraged to shoot down as many of the flying enemies as possible in order to amass a high score. If done several times, the different pictures taken could be viewed in a gallery together.
Augmented Realities best work is rather educational, and can be called ‘Location Based Storytelling’. If we define augmented reality to be ‘the overlay of content on the real world.’ we can develop location-based storytelling with the use of pattern recognition packages such as, Zappar and Blippar. Museums such as the Natural History museum in New York use this technology exceptionally well, as when a QR code or similar is scanned into a smart device’s camera, it produces artefacts on the ‘bone hall’ exhibit. This adds another layer of information to the exhibits at hand. Users can see them come to life, and learn in a more interactive way, moving the models around. You can see the ‘Bone Hall’ exhibit in action here!
Despite its rudimentary applications and design, Text100 argues that ‘Augmented reality is still in its infancy, but has already shown promise in military, medical, commercial and entertainment applications because of its ability to help visualize conceptual projects in the real world.’ This can be seen in applications such as Google Translate that use a smartphone’s camera with software to decode and translate written text from one language to another. Another excellent application, albeit quite out-dated now, was 1996’s LandForm that used location-based attributes to decode positioning. The ‘app’ connected to ‘ISR Manned Systems’ that would be used for search and rescue, border protection, wildlife management and other applications of aerial surveillance systems, by blending video with map information.