For the most part, Augmented Reality (AR) has been associated with ad campaigns, movies set in a distant future, or situations that just seem gimmicky. You might be thinking, “hasn’t anyone been able to find a real-life use for this technology?” Well, the answer is yes! Here’s a look at four practical uses for AR that you may soon see popping up in everyday life.
A team at Bentley Systems is looking to change the way the construction industry operates. As it stands now, most construction is very analog. Buildings may be designed with advanced 3D tools, but it all eventually ends up as old-fashion blueprints. Working off of those blueprints is time consuming, since builders have to refer to them constantly throughout construction, slowing things down. Imagine if you could see the blueprints overlayed on the construction site right in front of you.
Screenshot image courtesy of YouTube, Bentley
By having a heads up display, you always have blueprints at your fingertips, literally. These can also be supplemented with detailed instructions on how a specific piece of construction should be done. Bentley isn’t stopping at building construction, they also have some ideas to help with excavation as well. According to the DOT 33% of all pipeline damage is due to excavation damage. It happens because excavation crews are unaware of existing pipelines. Currently, learning about the pipelines is a manual process that must be done by each crew, and based on statistics, isn’t always performed. Having a heads-up display on underground pipelines would be a proactive means of alerting people to potential dangers where they are digging.
Screenshot image showing sewer layout courtesy of Bentley Colleague Blogs.
DIY Car Repair
The technology industry has made leaps in usability of their hardware. Things are very modular and usually well documented. Sadly, the automotive industry hasn’t quite caught up yet. Every vehicle seems to change where parts are located and how they all work together. Trying to track down specific information on your vehicle can be a project in of itself. Inglobe Technologies released a demo to assist with this, giving you a heads up display of the relevant areas of your car
Screenshot image courtesy of YouTube, inglobe
When this technology becomes more commonplace, even a novice might be able to do basic car repair – like checking fluid levels and replacing filters.
Learning to Cook
A team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is working on a system that could be integrated into stoves to help people learn to cook.
There’s definitely more than meets the eye with this concept. The pan can actually simulate the weight of the food as well interaction with it (flipping a steak over, for example). It also can read temperatures, which allows it to simulate cooking. All this information is used to create a realistic AR immersion of cooking your meal. Burnt food may be a thing of the past, with everyone being able to do dry runs of a new meal before taking on the challenge.
GPS Turn-by-turn Navigation
GPS has become so widespread that most people couldn’t live without it. One annoying aspect is that you generally have to take your eyes off the road to see the directions, along with turn-by-turn directions being difficult to line up to the actual road at times. Mishor 3D is currently working on 3D navigation driver’s aid to solve that.
Screenshot image courtesy of Mishor 3D
While I doubt an app is going to be able to tap into police blotters or the DMV anytime soon to provide the information presented here, navigation overlays would be extremely useful. Combined with crowdsourced traffic apps like Waze and Inrix this could be a power aid to drivers. The biggest hurdle for these types of apps may end up being less technical and more design. If they clutter the interface too much, it would prove a detriment to drivers instead of a benefit.
While none of these examples are ready for prime time just yet, one thing is clear; augmented reality is here to stay. The only thing that’s left to question is how long it will take technology to catch up to the concepts people have already imagined.