Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a users view of the real world. Ultimately, it allows users to view through a screen, what isn’t actually there in real life, and essentially closes the gap between imagination and reality.
Remote AR — often dubbed as multiuser — allows users to share the same AR experience from different physical surfaces and surroundings. This technology has changed the way humans interact and projects insights into the future of communication.
With a little help from the internet, AR experiences can be shared between users, across the globe from mobile devices- truly revolutionising human interaction.
It is clear to see how time and monetary resources can be saved through the effective use of remote AR. It enables multiple users to access and report on the vision of one key user. In the workplace, an AR project can be accessed by the entire team, thousands of miles apart, without having to be present.
Multiuser AR effectively erases the distance between each user and places them together in a virtual room.
Within this virtual room, users can connect via live video or audio, using any compatible technology device; be it a smartphone, laptop or tablet, usually wearing glasses as the interface.
Its 3D content generates a rich and contextualised experience that helps to eliminate confusion and misjudgement in joint projects. Despite the location or movement of the user, project annotations remain and ensures information is always retrievable.
Moving with the molecules
Shaking up the gaming industry, AR technology has paved the way for a whole new generation of collaborative apps and games. Look no further than Pokemon GO, which introduced mainstream gamers to the potentials of AR technology.
It set the stage for remote AR and supercharged the gaming immersion level to new heights.
Following suit, tech companies such as Facebook and Apple are moving towards fulfilling the AR capacity in their market. Apple has been engaged with generating new AR tools for the development community, whilst Facebook is adamant to make AR available to the masses.
Remote AR has recently found its place in education.
It invites a deeper level of understanding of what can be complex subjects and brings to life what can often be dull theories and formulas. In an effort to encourage imaginative thought and engagement in the sciences, the University of Helskini, Finland, has used remote AR to allow children to virtually interact with the molecule movement in gases, gravity, sound waves and aeroplane physics.
Results have shown an improvement in the level of learning of under-performing children.
The healthcare and medical technology industries are warming to the use of AR projects and applications. It has been used by some hospitals in physiotherapy and physical rehabilitation, by mapping a digital image directly onto the motions people perform as part of their therapy.
By watching themselves in tandem with the demonstration, patients can refine their movements and view the AR images remotely.
The practice of remote surgery operations have become increasingly common. A surgical team at the University of Alabama performed a remote surgery miles away from the operating table. They used AR to point to and guide the hands of the on-sight surgeon. This use of multiuser AR has given rise to the potential prospects for better healthcare in the third-world.
Remote AR has been of particular use in medical education. Students and teachers are using it to pinpoint precisely different types of bone while showing relevant AR information on the screen. It has contributed to the movement away from heavy textbooks, towards a lighter virtual learning environment.
Meet your colleagues virtually
Remote AR is also a game-changer for employee training and development. Sandia National Laboratories is working with augmented reality as a tool to improve security training. Users on-site patrol vulnerable areas containing nuclear weapons or nuclear materials, and are trained to deal with crisis using real-life examples projected through AR.
Additionally, what could be a long and costly training process is maid relatively cheap, with the use of stand-alone AR headsets.
Beam, the digital and design marketing agency, has built an AR-based employee onboarding programme. Newcomers to the company simply pop on an AR headset and can walk around the office setting off strategically located AR trigger points that enable them to gain knowledge about the business, facilities and employees.
Projection-based augmented reality is also emerging as a new way to cast virtual elements in the real world without the use of bulky headgear or glasses.
Furthermore, startup companies, Lampix and Lightform, have developed projection-based augmented reality for use in the boardroom, retail displays, hospitality, digital signage and more.
The open world becomes the real world
Remote AR has gone so far in reshaping the boundaries, it has helped to reimagine our conception of cyberspace, creating Magicverse. Developed by Magic Leap, it is a simulation of reality, not unlike The Matrix and other similar worlds as portrayed in sci-fi books and movies.
It’s a utopian perspective and aims to mirror real cities and environments that can be experienced and entered with AR glasses. Using cloud-based AR, it’s a deeply ambitious project, designed to create a whole ecology and community around this form of computing.
But it goes further than a novelty or game, Magic Leap is partnering with a wide raft of companies, to develop these AR worlds with practical uses in mind. These have been extended to making healthcare and economic opportunities available to everyone.
The ultimate aim is to develop Magicverse to a point where people can transport to different cities, for instance from Paris to Moscow or New York to London and make valuable human interactions, from patient-doctor relations to employee-employer relations and interviews. This is the enormous potential of remote AR.
While today’s usage of remote AR tends to be more prosaic it is no less revolutionary. For instance, LEGO AR-Studio offers six virtual app sets that tap into the popularity of games like Pokemon Go, by bringing to life elements on the table and living room floor. It combines interactive worlds and characters to create a gold brick hunt.
This is a gaming trailblazer and is set to open up the world of open-world gaming to new levels of interactivity. Undoubtedly, it won’t be long before these AR open world games begin incorporating advertising into the games. Advertisers will potentially be able to reach millions of gamers, to meet their audiences’ specific needs for information, convenience and entertainment.
LEGO has continued to stretch the limits of remote AR, by partnering with Snapchat to launch a shop with no clothes in it. That’s right a shop with nothing more than a large plastic plinth emblazoned with a giant Snapcode.
A user simply whips out their smartphone, frames the Snapcode in the phone’s camera and clicks. They can then access a virtual shop that features a range of exclusive clothing products, along with a LEGO bouncer should a virtual shopper get any virtual ideas.
It may seem gimmicky but LEGO is exploring the technology to launch its first-ever limited-edition range of adult clothes. It is also attempting to explore how the digital and physical worlds can interact.
And as we know where one company goes others often tend to follow.
It would seem that we are in some remote AR industrialisation phase of human history. BMW has incorporated augmented reality into its automobile design process. Engineers in different locations work collaboratively on engine design and development, saving significant amounts of time and effort, particularly during the early development stages of new vehicle models.
In this AR environment, the functions of the vehicle and its interior designs can be modelled faster and more economically. Engineers can see if there are certain engine components that should be changed and how engine parts are working together.
Crime scenes and space stations
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, has been working with first responders of a crime scene, to incorporate AR tools in the investigation process. Handheld AR system allows on-scene investigators to work with remote forensic teams to minimise the potential for contamination and enhance investigative procedures.
In Finland, the VTT Technical Research Center recently developed an AR tool for the European Space Agency (ESA) for astronauts to perform real-time equipment monitoring in space. The precarious threat of these tasks is minimised with the use of AR that prepares astronauts with in-depth practice, by coordinating the activities with experts.
The tool enables the visualisation of telemetry data from equipment and other systems on board the space station, such as diagnostics and maintenance data, life cycle, radiation, pressure, or temperature, both in space and on the ground and displayed on AR glasses.
Augmented Reality has come a long way in a short period of time, and remote AR is the driving force that is maintaining its momentum. Its ability to bring together thousands of users across different industries has already reshaped the way humans interact, work and collaborate.
Yet, excitingly, this revolution has only just begun.
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