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Augmented reality gains traction in consumer electronics

Posted: 27 Jan 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:augmented reality  HoloLens  holographic  virtual reality  AR 

People tend to prefer the real world most of the time, which suggests a better popular reception for AR than for VR. Inbar, however, predicts that "both AR and VR [will] become indistinguishable within decades."

Technically, there are two different ways to present augmented reality, optical see-through and video see-through.

In an optical see-through head-mounted display, or AR glasses, "the user has a direct view of the real environment. A micro-display then delivers to the eye, computer generated visual elements through a semi-transparent mirror, or optical combiner," explained Inbar. In a nutshell, in optical see-through, the virtual content appears to be positioned in the real world.


(Source:'s Smart Glasses Report)

In contrast, a video see-through display (such as Oculus Rift combined with a camera) can capture a live stream of the user's vantage point in real time. Inbar explained that "this camera image is transferred to a computer, which mixes the virtual elements with the real world images." The combined video is transmitted to an opaque display near the user's eyes.


(Source:'s Smart Glasses Report)

Why AR now?

Augmented Reality

Think wearables and the Internet of Things.

As with anything that's billed as "fashionable" and "in vogue" today (like drones), AR is taking off along with advancements in smartphones and tablets, and with the proliferations of MEMS sensors.

AR today is where advanced assisted driver systems (ADAS) were three years ago, according to Jeff Bier, founder of the Embedded Vision Alliance. Three years ago, not many people believed the embedded vision technology could push ADAS as far as it has progressed. Certainly, no one predicted how prevalent a feature ADAS would become for many new cars.

Similarly, AR is on the cusp of going mainstream, according to Bier. Integrating vision technology with AR will become the next frontier of embedded vision products, in his view.

The potential of AR is evident in places like Lego stores, he noted. "For those of us who are challenged with imagination as to what the Lego model within the box would eventually look like," Bier explained, in-store AR technology offers a solution. A customer can hold a Lego box in front of a screen, triggering a camera to project a 3D animated model on-screen." As the customer rotates the box, the model rotates.

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