Many of you have probably experienced or at least heard of virtual reality. As you know, virtual reality is an artificial simulation that immerses the user into a new world. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are similar in that they both envelop the user into an alternate/enhanced reality; the difference is to what extent. AR only adds to the existing surroundings whereas VR creates entirely new environments.

Let's say you are looking for a place to eat, but you don't know where you want to go. You focus your phone's camera on a string of restaurants, and when the restaurants are detected by the phone, it states the name and the ratings of that restaurant. When you click on the restaurant, the food menu is displayed, and you can read customer reviews on different items on the menu. This is augmented reality. Have you ever seen the movie Iron Man? Tony Stark's helmet visor displays additional information to his view. Another example of this would be Pokemon Go. As the user looks through their camera, the original environment is shown, with the addition of pokemon creatures that aren't actually there in the real world. AR adds to the surroundings of the actual environment.


Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have exploded in the last 10 years. About $1.1 billion dollars have been invested just this year, and they are still considered the future of computing. Ivan Sutherland can be credited with starting the field that would eventually turn into both VR and AR. Advances in computing performance of the 1980’s and early 1990’s were ultimately required for AR to expand as an independent field of research. 1992 was the year augmented reality first came to life. First recognized by Caudell and MIzell (1992) at Boeing when creating a wire bundle assembly for aircraft.

In 1997, Feiner et al. developed the first outdoor AR system which was known as the Touring Machine at Columbia University. The machine delivered mobile 3D graphics via this system required a backpack holding a computer. One year later he created an outdoor AR navigation system which was famous for delivering the first outdoor AR game, ARQuake. Augmented reality is still on the rise and is going to change the way we look at things forever. It’s truly incredible.


There are always going to be concerns when dealing with technology. Many people think that AR would be a distraction having too many images projected in the viewer’s sight. There are also concerns with threats of hackers intervening the augmented systems which could result in a privacy invasion as well as digital data and security risks. For example, a hacker could compromise the output of an AR system, tricking users into thinking the computer generated objects are real, something like a false speed limit sign if system is used during driving. There are other concerns that should be put in mind and solved as augmented reality becomes more mainstream.


Scholars from the University of Texas conducted that CPS and camera data accessed via JavaScript libraries without user permission would be overlooked by another program. They also said that AR mobile apps should implement origin-based control solutions and user notifications. With the introduction of universal cross-site scripting protocols (like HTML5) security risks can be eliminated.


There is a wide selection of things to be used with augmented reality, such as construction, car repair, cooking, GPS, sightseeing, medical advertising, entertainment, education, and many more. Imagine looking at your car’s engine and being able to see the names and functions of each individual part of the vehicle. Wouldn’t that make fixing your car so much easier? Or imagine a doctor being able to see and understand where a problem is in a patient’s heart and be able to save hundreds of lives! These are just a few of countless uses of augmented reality.

On an educational aspect, AR could enhance learning for millions of people! Not just children, but adults as well. How convenient would it be to learn anatomy using augmented reality? You would be able to pinpoint exactly the type of bone being studied and have all of its information on screen without using a textbook.

A team at Bentley Systems is looking into revolutionizing construction by using innovative AR technology. As you know, most construction is based on old-fashioned blueprints; this can be extremely time consuming and confusing. Just imagine being able to see the blueprints overlaid on the actual construction site right in front of you! All in all there are many uses where we could incorporate augmented reality and have it become part of society. It would be convenient in any case.