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Augmented Reality : Application, Limitations and Way ahead

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.

Applications of Augmented Reality:

1. Navigation: Enhanced GPS systems are using augmented reality to make it easier to get from point A to point B. Using the phone’s camera in combination with the GPS, the users see the selected route over the live view of what is in front of the car.
2. Sightseeing: Using a smartphone equipped with a camera, tourists can walk through historic sites and see facts and figures presented as an overlay on their live screen.
a. These applications use GPS and image recognition technology to look up data from an online
b. In addition to information about a historic site, applications exist that look back in history and show how, the location looked 10, 50 or even 100 years ago.
3. Military: The Heads-Up Display (HUD) is the typical example of augmented reality when it comes to military applications of the technology.
a. A transparent display is positioned directly in the fighter pilots view. Data typically displayed to the pilot includes altitude, airspeed, and the horizon line in addition to other critical data.
b. The term “heads-up” comes from the fact that the pilot doesn’t have to look down at the aircraft’s instrumentation to get the data they need.
c. The Head-Mounted Display (HMD) is used by ground troops. Critical data such as enemy location can be presented to the soldier within their line of sight.
d. This (HMD) technology is also used for simulations for training purposes.
4. Medical: Medical students use the technology to practice surgery in a controlled environment. Also, Visualizations (with AR) aid in explaining complex medical conditions to patients. Augmented reality can reduce the risk of an operation by giving the surgeon improved sensory perception.
5. Gaming: It has changed the gaming experience in a revolutionary way. The mixing up of virtual life with real life using GPS has given a unique experience in gaming.
6. Safety and rescue operations: In the case of emergencies, the police or firefighters often arrive at chaotic scenes and need to make sense of the environment and navigate a place they have never been to. With the use of AR technology (virtual maps and X-ray vision) they can help better in such situations.


1. Currently, AR works better in static, unchanging situations, and when it has to show information that is constantly changing, it becomes less accurate.
2. It has privacy concerns due to its facial and location recognition technologies.
3. With the already isolation of individuals due to various technologies (e.g. social media), AR can further lead to social detachment among people.

Recent concern related to augmented reality games:

1. Some of the games like Pokemon Go, and other advanced AR devices like Google Glass and Holo Lens are present in the market today.
2. All AR devices whether it is a game or device, distracts people from their surroundings, leading to potentially severe consequences.
3. Several countries have issued advisories regarding the game and some have even raised ‘national security’ concerns. A Pokemon Go player was robbed at knife point in New Hampshire, a player got stuck in a tree in a cemetery in New Jersey, a teenager was led to a dead body in a river in Wyoming, and in Baltimore, a man drove into a police car while chasing Pokemon.

Safety concerns Linked to children:

1. Real-world game-play has been linked to armed robberies as criminals have used the game to locate and lure intended targets and children are most vulnerable in that scenario.
2. Since these games encourage players to go to areas which may not belong to them. Trespassers whether the children or a mature person face a real threat of physical harm from property owners who may use force to protect their property.
3. The game requires users’ full attention immediately. Children playing games on the roads can meet an accident due to speedy cars or any other cause.
4. Since the game, developed by Niantic, uses Google Maps and has access to IP addresses of the users, it can be used to trace locations, in which case children are the most vulnerable and will be unable to respond to any criminal activities.
5. When a player downloads Pokémon Go, the app gets “full access” to the person’s phone. Children playing games on their parent’scellphones could give up personal data in the phones.
6. A number of doctors and psychologists feel that these games add to the stress levels of the player and children tend to get more stressed due to their immature emotional level.
7. These games can affect a growing child’s ability to distinguish between real and virtual objects.

Way ahead:

Accidents and mishaps can be avoided by being more alert and avoiding seedy locations. The guardian of children needs to be more aware as these technologies can lead to the isolation of children from family.
The only way to resolve this from the developer’s side would be to maintain a global, up-to-date information bank on what areas are off limits, and alter the gaming experience accordingly. The sheer scale of this task makes it very difficult to accomplish by today’s standards.

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