What Is Augmented Reality?

Our world is rapidly evolving every day and every second. A brand new idea or a brand new piece of tech is been developed, introduced, integrated every now and then. AR is one of these innovations that’s steadily taking over the tech market.

Augmented reality is a technology that’s proving itself useful in our everyday lives. From social media filters to complex educational content, AR is rapidly growing in its popularity. But what is it?

Augmented Reality Definition

Augmented reality (also Mixed Reality or MR, Computer-Mediated Reality) is an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera) (с) Meriam-Webster Dictionary

Unlike virtual reality (VR), which creates a totally artificial environment, AR uses the existing environment and to overlay digital information on top of it.


The most popular examples of AR experiences include Snapchat lenses and the game Pokemon Go.


History of Augmented Reality

The first known attempt to introduce enriched experience belongs to a cinematographer Morton Heilig in 1957. He invented a machine called Sensorama, which delivered sounds, vibration and smell along with visuals to the viewer. This is the first example of adding additional data to an experience.

Sensorama, 1957

Then in 1968, Ivan Sutherland the American computer scientist introduced the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system, referred to as the Sword of Damocles because it was suspended from the ceiling above the user’s head. The technology used at the time made the invention impractical for mass use.

In 1975, Myron Krueger, an American computer artist developed the first “VR” interface in the form of “Videoplace” which allowed its users to manipulate and interact with virtual objects in real-time.


These examples weren’t VR or AR actually. The term “virtual reality” was coined by Jaron Lainer in 1989, and the term “augmented reality” — by Thomas P Caudell in 1990.

The first AR and VR system was called Virtual Fixtures. It was developed by Louis Rosenberg in 1992. Virtual Fixtures was a complex robotic system which enabled the overlay of sensory information on a workspace to improve human productivity.

Louis Rosenberg

First commercial AR experiences were largely made in the entertainment and gaming industries. Here are the most notable ones:

  • 2000: AR Quake launched — the first AR game. As well as a head-mounted display, players had to wear a backpack containing a computer and gyroscopes;
AR Tennis
  • 2005 saw the first AR apps for smartphones like AR Tennis — a two-player AR game developed for Nokia phones;
  • In 2008 BMW became the first brand to make use of AR for commercial purposes, with its AR enhanced print ads;
  • In 2009 Esquire published the first AR-enabled magazine when it let readers scan the cover to make Robert Downey Jr come to life on the page;
  • 2013: Google announced its open beta of Google Glass;
  • 2015: Microsoft announcing augmented reality support and their augmented reality headset HoloLens;
  • In 2016 Niantic and Nintendo launched Pokemon Go — the hugely popular location-based AR game that put AR on the mainstream map.

Upcoming 2018 4Q AR-Related Events

Here’s a quick list of the upcoming AR-related events. You still have time to sign up and attend a few:

That’s it! Is there anything important that’s missing here? Are the any other upcoming largest AR-related conferences? Are you attending any of them? Please, share in the comments!

All the best,
Anastasia, Marketing Specialist for DEVAR

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Coding and gaming geek, writing about software and productivity-related stuff.

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