Until recently, Augmented Reality (AR) technology has rarely been discussed outside of the computer science world. It has taken years for this technology to become closer to a stable existence, and will most likely take several more years before it will be used by average citizens. However, the technology does exist, it has been applied in several areas, and research is being done to create even more stable systems that are adaptable to various environments. For this reason, it is necessary for decision-makers in establishments where education and training, knowledge distribution, and individual and collaborative task completion are essential to be aware of this technology, its abilities, and the possible impacts to common workspaces and workers. The purpose of this chapter is to inform decision-makers of AR’s history, the completed research and current applications of AR, possible impacts to managers and workers, and the future trends of the technology.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Head-Mounted Display: AR equipment worn on the head which houses a display technology (goggles). Displays may either be projected on the lens of the goggles or projected directly on the retina of the user.
Augmented Reality: AR supplements the real world with virtual (computer-generated) objects that appear to coexist in the same space as the real world. An AR system has 3 characteristics: 1. Combines real and virtual worlds; 2. Information is interactive in real time, and; 3. Registered in 3-D
Virtual Retina Display: A type of display technology that works with Head Mounted Display goggles that projects an infrared ray onto the retina of the user. This projection theoretically provides clearer virtual images.
Hand Held Display: A display technology that allows a user to see an AR world only when the display technology is held in reference to specific authored environments. This is an alternative to a Head Mounted Display and includes technologies like a portable flat screen monitor or a cellular telephone.
Spatially Augmented Reality: AR displayed in non-mobile environments like a traditional office space by projectors. Displays may be on walls, desks, ceilings, people, other tangible objects, and so forth.
Mixed Reality: An all-encompassing term that includes the spectrum of worlds modeled by computers from Augmented Reality to Virtual Reality.
Mobile Augmented Reality: Refers to AR use, either indoor or outdoor, where users are able to use the system in unauthored environments either by carrying the AR equipment or by remotely accessing the virtual information. Head Mounted Displays are usually worn for mobile AR, but other displays like a hand held device or portable LCD screen may be used to display virtual information.