Augmented Reality has come a long way from a science fiction concept to a science-based reality. Until recently, the cost of augmented reality was so high that designers could only dream of working on design projects (for example 3D configurators). Today things have changed and augmented reality is even available on mobile devices. This means that Augmented Reality design is now an option for all shapes and sizes of UX designers.

Augmented Reality evolve

Augmented Reality is a view of the real, physical world in which elements are enhanced by computer-generated inputs. These inputs can range from sound to video, from graphics to GPS overlays and more. The first introduction to Augmented Reality was a 1901 novel by Frank L. Baum, in which a series of electronic eyeglasses depicted data on humans, referred to as character markers. Today Augmented Reality is reality and no longer a science fiction concept.

History of Augmented Reality.

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Augmented Reality was first published in 1957 by a cameraman named Morton Heilig. He invented the Sensorama, which provided the viewer with images, sounds, vibrations and smells. Of course, it wasn’t computer-controlled, but it was the first example of an attempt to add additional data to a project.

In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, the American computer scientist and early Internet influencer, invented the first head-mounted display as a kind of window into a virtual world. The technology used at that time made the invention impracticable for mass use.

In 1975, the American computer artist Myron Krueger developed “Videoplace”, the first “Virtual Reality” interface that enabled users to manipulate and interact with virtual objects and do so in real time.

Steve Mann, a computational photography researcher, developed the concept of wearable computing in 1980.

Of course, this was not yet a real virtual or augmented reality, because virtual reality was coined by Jaron Lainer in 1989 and by Thomas P. Caudell of Boeing with the term “augmented reality” in 1990.

The first functional AR system was probably the one developed by Louis Rosenberg at the USAF Armstrong Research Lab in 1992. This was called Virtual Fixtures and was an incredibly complex robotic system designed to compensate for the lack of fast 3D graphics processing performance in the early 1990s. It enabled the overlay of sensory information on a workspace to improve human productivity.

There were many other breakthroughs in augmented reality. We have prepared a small listing below for you:

  • Bruce Thomas developed an outdoor mobile game called ARQuake in 2000.
  • ARToolKit (a design tool), which was made available in Adobe Flash in 2009.
  • Google announced its open beta version of Google Glasses in 2013.
  • Microsoft announced augmented reality support and the HoloLens headset in 2015.

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The current state of affairs in Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality is achieved through a multitude of technological innovations that can be implemented individually or in combination to create Augmented Reality. These include

  • General hardware components – the processor, display, sensors and input devices. Typically, a smartphone includes a processor, display, accelerometers, GPS, camera, microphone, etc., and includes all the hardware required for an AR device.
  • Displays – while a monitor is capable of displaying AR data, there are other systems such as optical projection systems, head-mounted displays, eyeglasses, contact lenses, the HUD (heads-up display), virtual retina displays, EyeTap (a device that modifies the light beams picked up by the environment and replaces them with computer-generated ones), Spatial Augmented Reality (SAR – which uses traditional projection techniques to replace a display of any kind), and portable displays.
  • Sensors and input devices include – GPS, gyroscopes, accelerometers, compasses, RFID, wireless sensors, touch recognition, speech recognition, eye tracking and peripherals.
  • Software – the majority of development for AR will be in the development of additional software to take advantage of hardware capabilities. There is already an Augmented Reality Markup Language (ARML) that is used to standardize XML grammar for Virtual Reality. There are several Software Development Kits (SDK) that also provide simple environments for AR development.

There are apps that are available for AR or are researched for AR, in almost every industry sector, including:

  • Archaeology, Art, Architecture
  • Trade, Office
  • Building industry, industrial design
  • Education, Translation
  • Emergency management, disaster relief, medicine, search and rescue service
  • Games, Sports, Entertainment, Tourism
  • Military
  • Navigation

The future of Augmented Reality.

A well-known US UX designer once said that AR is the future of design and we tend to agree. Already, mobile phones are so integral to our lives that they could just as well be extensions of our bodies, as the technology can be further integrated into our lives without being intrusive – it’s already certain that AR provides the opportunity to take the user experience beyond a powerful level.

This will almost certainly bring great progress in the much-praised but still little considered “Internet of Things”. UX designers in the AR field need to seriously address how traditional experiences can be improved by AR – it’s not enough to enable their cookers to use computer enhancements, it has to be healthier food or better cooked food for users.

The future will belong to AR if it improves the efficiency of tasks or the quality of output of an experience for the user. This is the central challenge of the 21st century UX profession.


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AR or Augmented Reality has gone from dream to reality in just over a century. However, there are many AR applications in use or under development today – the concept will take me right through when UX designers think about how to integrate AR into everyday life to improve productivity, efficiency or quality of experiences. There is unlimited potential for AR, so we can look forward to new amazing content in the future.

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