Rightly named the technology of the future, Augmented Reality is one of the most solid bricks in the foundation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution we are currently living. In the recent years AR has carved its way from research and innovation labs to the market place mostly by being played with by top brands and companies. A legion of applications has emerged from the steady development of this earth-shattering technology that has come to transform the way people perceive and learn from their environments, and to revolutionize industry and business processes.
Augmented Reality in actual words
Ronald Azuma’s definition of augmented reality is one of the most widely referenced in research literature. He defines an augmented reality application as one that “(1) combines the real world with the virtual world, (2) is interactive and in real-time and (3) is registered in 3 dimensions”.
The concept of Augmented Reality goes back to 1930, but recent advances in smartphone technology has amplified its insertion at people level and mainstreamed it. Augmented Reality is now part of everyday activities at home or at work. Although a smartphone does not have the computing endowment to support powerful AR applications, it offers the advantage of acquainting people to this concept. With one tap on their smart device, one can discover nearby establishments and landmarks or they can simulate the room they want to redecorate or try on clothes in online stores. Many researchers count mobile phone industry as the main means for broadcasting their research on Augmented Reality.
“It takes time to really send this technology forward for commercial purposes,” says PhD Markus Santoso (University of Calgary), “but we’re trying to use future technology to get ahead so that by the time everyone gets used to it, we’ll already be prepared with the next steps forward.”
It is by now crystal clear that what they reveal is the tiniest part of what they can and will do with the AR.
Application areas of augmented reality
Although at first popular for entertainment activities (games, cinema), application areas of augmented reality increase in number and results as fast as ever: commerce & marketing, medicine, manufacturing, e-Commerce, military forces, transportation & geolocation, education& training, tourism, and so on.
Scientists have found a strong ally in software companies who mostly have their own R&D departments and are willing to employ their most valuable know-how and best-of-the-best staff in these research and innovation projects.
Shopping gets an uplift
Augmented reality ensures an enhancement of the eCommerce world. With mobile apps as accessible as never before, offline and online shopping are mingled together by augmented reality technology. It is now at hand to get a software development provider build you a virtual site of your shopping center to connect permanently with your clients. Businesses in the Sales & Marketing industry that do not adapt to the new reality will be left behind.
Treasure Hunt for instance is such a game serving marketing purposes. 21,000 visitors have been hunting “treasures” every day in a shopping center (Coresi Mall Brasov, Romania) long before people went after Pokemons. Ropardo – Software Engineering developed a powerful VR application and the server API to identify in real time all users connected to access points in the site and push bonus points for them to “hunt” in the 200 shops and entertainment locations on the mall. Without even knowing, visitors use on Virtual Reality to discover the “treasure” hidden by the shoppers, accumulating discount points or super offers! Treasure Hunt is part of a more complex mobile application developed by Ropardo to offer shoppers a user-friendly and dynamic experience.
Factories of the future
Or are they factories of the present already? We still refer to cutting edge discoveries to be implemented in factories of the future, or cities of the future, or transport of the future. But time compresses so fast that you hardly finish say it that there it is: future is now.
Such is the case for RoboMate, an intelligent, wearable exoskeleton serving manually handled work and preventing risk of developing professional diseases, that undergoes at the writing time last tests before being implemented in factories.
Robo-Mate proposes two manners of supporting activities requiring the effort of the upper members: passive and active.
- The passive mode for arms support provides a constant force thereof and works without power supply. It is ideal for the transport of constant weight objects. The active module regulates the support force of the arm depending on the weight of objects lifted and put in place.
- The legs module applies force to support the hip, helping the operator work in bent positions, in order to reduce pressure on the lower back.
A totally distinct module is RoboHMI interface developed by Ropardo – Software Engineering. The interface is an assistive system for human – exoskeleton interaction that runs on smartphone and interactive glasses. The smartphone gathers sensors data from the exoskeleton and uploads them to a Cloud-based system where people can access them using a web application. The Cloud system also offers human operators a place where to keep their personalized settings for the exoskeleton. The human operator may also benefit from training materials on how to work with the exoskeleton. The training materials can be managed with the web application that can also be used to maintain exoskeletons as assets.
RoboHMI interface was developed thanks to the efforts of a talented team of software engineers and researchers in ROPARDO Research & Innovation Center located in Sibiu, Romania. RRIC uses Augmented Reality technology to create applications that ensure efficient processes in industries such as Manufacturing and Logistics or Automotive.
Progress made with the RoboHMI was demonstrated in a series of workshops, one of which we organized in our hometown – Sibiu, where manufacturers are renowned for their openness to technology breakthroughs.