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Crossmedia, Social, Mobile, Business Modeling, Marketing, Research and insights

What’s Augmented Reality?

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In daily educational humbug, we’re almost halfway with our Mobile Business Design ‘minor’ (a free-of-choice-half-year-course to enhance the bachelor level). And while the students did their first written exam in this context, it struck me that we are talking a lot about locative or Location Based Services but not a lot more about Augmented Reality.

Sure, three of the five teams use Layer or likewise as a technological solution to their heavyweight assignments. But nobody uses the word Augmented Reality anymore. That’s strange. So, in retrospect, what is Augmented Reality?


According to Wikipedia[1], Augmented Reality (AR) is “a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one


Portalés, Lerma, Navarr (2009) describe AR “as a relatively new technology that is based on mixing computer generated stimuli (visual, sound or haptic) and real ones, keeping a spatial relationship between synthetic and physical data and allowing user interaction in real time, as described in Azuma (1997)[2]

. Furthermore the authors state that AR provides


  • Seamless interaction between real and virtual environment
  • The ability to enhance reality
  • The presence of spatial cues for face-to-face and remote collaboration
  • Support of a tangible interface metaphor for object manipulation.
  • The ability to transition smoothly between reality and virtual-
  • The ability to transition smoothly between reality and virtual-
  • The ability to transition smoothly between reality and virtuality


Now, let us see what some our students think Augmented Reality is[3].

  • AR can be described as the changed reality. Think of Layar. An extra layer is added (read reality) to the world, seen through a mobile phone.
  • AR is the creation of an extra dimension, using a mobile phone with a screen.
  • AR is the addition of image and/or user experience by means of digital shapes, sound and/or image to real surroundings.
  • AR is the adaptation of reality by means of modern technology.
  • AR is added reality by means of smartphione.


Okay. Fair enough. Not all definitions are of the same quality. Still, the idea is clear; by adding something to something – in this case extra digital information of some sort to a reflection of reality i.e. what you view on a screen of a (digital) device – we create a new reality. The question is whether this new – augmented (as in enlarged) – reality can only be created through digital devices. What about this ‘augmented’ reality, a shot taken from a train window? The window has added information which, I know it is disputable – creates a new enlarged reality. Isn’t it?

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality, visited 27 October 2011, 3.30PM

[2] Cristina Portalés, José Luis Lerma, Santiago Navarr (2009). Augmented reality and photogrammetry: A synergy to visualize physical and virtual city environment. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensin (http://www.sciencedirect.com.www.dbproxy.hu.nl/science?_ob=MiamiImageURL&_cid=271826&_user=2849566&_pii=S0924271609001208&_check=y&_origin=search&_zone=rslt_list_item&_coverDate=2010-01-31&wchp=dGLzVlS-zSkzS&md5=aabce609b1e2abae785316954b3a0a01/1-s2.0-S0924271609001208-main.pdf)

[3] The exam was taken on 24 October 2011 in Utrecht. For obvious reasons I will not mention any names. The exam was in Dutch, I translated the writings of our ‘young colleagues.


Written by Kees Winkel

October 31, 2011 at 15:00

Posted in 1

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