Holy crap y'all, there's a shark in my office! And then a wolf and a panda bear and penguin. (Yes this is what I do at lunch...)
I learned about Google's augmented reality (AR) animals last night and had to go look it up. Turns out that it's already live in Google search for many animals. You can look at a life sized shark, panda bear, penguin, horse, wolf, alligator, tiger, Shetland pony, raccoon, macaw, pug, turtle, Labrador retriever, lion, and brown bear for sure. Sadly hippopotamus and giraffe do not work, yet...
Augmented reality takes digital things and puts them into real life via your phone or mobile device. AR has been around since the early 1990's but didn't really hit the mainstream with the Pokemon Go craze of 2016/2017. Pokemon Go was really the first place where people interacted with AR. Without most people even realizing it, the Pokemon characters people saw in the "wild" were augmented reality. And did you know that Snapchat's filters are also augmented reality.
AR blends into a person's perception of the real world. You can stand next to them, move around them, and take selfies with them.
But AR is used for much more than games and entertainment. AR is used in my industry, construction, to help people visualize how a building system, or even the whole building will look when completed. It is also used for training and product presentations.
AR has also been used to in archaeology. AR can augment archaeological features onto the current landscape, so archaeologists can look at an area how it used to be. Surgeons are using AR to provide patient data in the same way fighter pilots have heads up displays in their helmets. AR can help find veins and project holograms to help guide surgeons during procedures.
Apps like Google Lens place AR information on top of things of interest, like landmarks, and can show you the most popular items on a restaurant's menu. Don't be surprised when marketing and ads show up in here too.
Since it is also fascinating fact Friday, I'll throw in some additional facts:
- The first mention of something that could be called augmented reality was buy author, L. Frank Baum. His idea of an electronic display that overlays data onto real life, is exactly how we see it used today, 118 years later.
- It wasn't unit 1975, when Myron Krueger created the Videoplace, that AR and VR technology started coming to be possible.
- In 1990, former Boeing researcher, Thomas Caudell coined the term "Augmented Reality".
- The Virtual Fixtures system developed at the U.S. Air Force's Armstrong Laboratory in 1992 was one of the first AR systems.
- Since then, it was mostly been used for research and military uses until it moved into gaming with Niantic's Pokemon Go in 2016.
I have been waiting for a while to see what Magic Leap does with AR and they finally started talking about actual physical products last year. To be really wowed about the possibilities of AR, check out their website.
I love the idea of AR. As I type this post, I think about how real it really is. If I print it, it's a real piece of paper, but what is it as I type? It's digital, just 1's and 0's inside my computer. Yet it is real to me. So what about AR. Is that shark in my office? Well, obviously not really. But my reaction to it when it suddenly appeared all full of teeth next to my head, was very real. So in a couple years when the shark, or whatever, can react to me, do we start to consider it real?
So back to the AR animals...
You have got to try this this weekend. Show it to your kids. Heck show it to your neighbors. It's freaking cool, especially the shark. To do it, just pull out your phone and google an animal (maybe start with the ones I mention above). Scroll down until you see "Meet a life sized (your animal name) up close." and a a View in 3D link. Click that, wait for the animal to appear, then click AR and follow the instructions to bring animals into your house.
I haven't pulled up all these animal yet, so I know what my plans are for this weekend...