Monday, November 17, 2014

History of Augmented Reality

I was gone all weekend and do not have a device capable of running this weeks assignment so I was told to talk about some of the history of augmented reality and other points of interest on the topic.

The term "augmented reality" was coined in 1990 but its earliest iteration was created in 1957. A man Morton Helig build a machine named the "Sensorama" which projected images at different angles around your head and various other effects, like wind blowing or your seat shaking, to immerse viewers into a film of real world experiences. In 1966 Ivan Sutherland, at Harvard University, invented a combination AR and VR device, nicknamed The Sword of Damocles, which was a head mounted device that was hung from the ceiling and displayed wire frame models of generated objects and environments. In the early nineties the devises were progressed by US Air Force systems like VIRTUAL FIXTURES and University systems like KARMA to act as guides and provide assistance to various technical tasks, still as head mounted devices. Because of the need for bulky and expensive equipment AR technology was not really available for consumers until smartphones became common place. With cameras, GPS, and internet access they provided an ideal platform for simple AR software.

Besides smartphones there are numerous headsets, goggles, cameras, and other devises that provide AR experiences. I have a Nintendo 3DS which comes with a few AR games pre-downloaded. One game tracks your movement in a room and how you tilt the device to target enemies. Another has you place cards down on a table and it creates characters and terrains you can interact with. It always struck me as a bit gimmicky but the games were fun. When you see things like the Google Glass which could assist you in everything you do this pales in comparison, but what you can do on a device like a 3DS is limited and Glass is still a ways away. To me it seems like there is a lot you could do with this kind of technology but we are not quite there yet.

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