Augmented Reality and The Future of Multimedia Essay
In the electronics industry, augmented reality is one of the newest innovations. It uses elements from the computer screens such as audio, graphics and other sensory enhancements and superimposes them onto real-time environments. Unlike the television which uses static graphic technology, augmented reality enables the imposed graphics to change with the perspective. Graphics are superimposed by augmented reality system for every perspective and adjust with the movement of the user’s eyes and head.
Both universities and technology companies are still developing the technology needed for augmented reality systems. The first mass-produced augmented reality systems are forecasted to be available in the market by the end of the decade.
An augmented reality system has three basic components. They are the head-mounted display, tracking system and mobile computer for the hardware. The purpose of this technology is to combine walkman with an ordinary pair of spectacles.
In video see-through systems, the user’s view of the external environment is blocked. It plays real time images captured by a camera mounted on the head gear. There is one main problem with this type of system which is whenever the user moves his or her head, the adjustment of the images is delayed. As for the optical see-through systems, images are directly shines onto the user’s retina through fast movement of the light source. However, due to the technology being used for this type of system, the price is high. For future augmented reality, this system has the confidence of the researchers that it will be more portable and less stand out.
The tracking and orientation system is the other component of an augmented reality system. What this system component does is that it tracks the user’s head and eyes movements and by referencing the surroundings, it pinpoints the user’s location. The main obstacles in developing this kind of technology are the complex procedure of tracking overall location, user movement and adjusting the graphics displayed. As of today, there are still a delay or lag between the display of the image and movement of the user in the best systems developed.
Application of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality systems will need high performance mobile computers. Presently, there are still no mobile computers available that are sufficiently powerful enough to create the stereo 3D graphics needed. To combine the current computer technology with augmented reality systems, graphic processing units like the Nvidia GPU by Toshiba and ATI Mobility 128 16MB graphic chips are being implemented into portable computers or laptops.
There are many potential uses of augmented reality systems in everyday lives and in other kind of fields. People will see and learn of their surrounding environments in different ways once the augmented reality systems are available. Several applications for augmented reality systems can be made available.
For gaming enthusiasts, the experience when playing games can be enhanced by using augmented reality systems. For example, a person can truly feels like a character in-game when playing future role-playing games (RPG). Augmented reality systems can be utilized to present to the user real environment backdrops in the game. For sports fans, when viewing or watching games, they can retrieve live information about the game and thus improving their viewing experience.
Other technologies can also be used with augmented reality systems, such as the WiFi. Users can get information from the Internet or other sources using the technology. If a person wanted to relive and learn the past history, augmented reality can create a panoramic virtual recreation of past events that are superimposed to real world environments. Other educational purpose is that to understand more things such as the galaxy, the structure of the universe, the formation of clouds, the layer of the earth and other things, augmented reality systems can be used to create realistic simulations so that students may have better understandings and can learn better and easier.
In the medical field, a surgeon can use augmented reality system during an operation for better sensory perception of the patient’s body thus resulting in more efficient, successful operations and less prone to errors and risks. Just like the WiFi, medical equipments such as the x-ray machine, MRI or CAT scan can be used alongside augmented reality systems to provide instant information for the doctors so that they can make better medical diagnosis or decisions.
The development of augmented reality has been going on for quite some time. Looking at the history, within each year, we are moving closer and closer to a fully materialized augmented reality system. Augmented reality combines all the elements of multimedia that includes audio, video, animation, still images, text and interactivity. Frankly speaking, augmented reality system is the perfect and ideal example that truly shows what multimedia really means.
Educationally, students can enhance their learning capabilities using augmented reality system and therefore improve the overall schooling process, including the universities. Augmented reality can provide influential surroundings such as life-like historic places that students can immersed themselves in and understand things better. Using its interactivity, game-like scenarios can be created to attract the attention and spice up the learning process, thus it will be more exciting. It is quite probable that in the near future, textbooks may not be needed anymore as they will be replaced by augmented reality systems.
Augmented reality also proved to be essential to other fields such as medical and in the military. Its broad and wide capabilities are one of its attractions. However, these also show that augmented reality is not a cheap bargain. As of today, the technology is still has its limitations and requires more than just brains and ideas. However, as the time moves forward, so does the technology. Augmented reality itself is heading towards its own birth and by this it means that it will be fully functional as it was intended. Although we might not be able to predict the future, it is safe to say that augmented reality is the future of multimedia.