Augmented Reality Explained

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Augmented Reality – A technology revolutionizing industry and society in front of our eyes.

Augmented Reality – A technology revolutionizing society in front of our eyes.

In modern times we are surrounded and influenced by technology. Technology is pervasive and exerts influence over every aspect of our lives. Yet most of us take it for granted, without giving it a second thought.

Everyone experiences the benefits of technology, but only a few understand how it works. Even then, our understanding is restricted. We learn to understand technology as it applies to our specific needs, rather than a comprehensive overview.

For example, many people have heard the term Augmented Reality, but few know what it means. Hearing about technology and understanding how it works are two very different things.

People perceive Augmented Reality (AR) as a new technology, yet it is already well established in many segments of industry and society. Initially, people misconceived AR as a technology for use only in the gaming industry.

However, AR has always been present in industries other than gaming. Many different commercial enterprises now incorporate AR into their production process, and this number is increasing rapidly.

AR is now also integrated into many separate segments of society.

What is Augmented Reality?

To define Augmented Reality: it is first necessary to define the word augment. The Oxford English dictionary defines Augment as “to make (something) greater by adding to it; increase.” And the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it “to make greater, more numerous, larger, or more intense.”

The emphasis in both definitions is to improve/increase. And so, it is with Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality is an enhanced or improved version of the physical world. AR is an interactive experience where humans utilize technology to interact with their physical environment overlayed with a digital environment.

“Augmented Reality” overlays elements of the physical world with a computer-generated, digital display. The physical and digital realities combine to create a new Augmented Reality.

The digital overlayed segments are visual, auditory, or text. However, as the technology develops, more emphasis is being placed on developing overlayed elements for the senses of touch and smell.

“Augmented Reality” is different from virtual reality. AR combines both physical and digital elements, but virtual (VR) is a digital reality only.

Combining physical and digital elements makes Augmented Reality a more authentic cyber environment, and it means “Augmented Reality” can easily be used for more practical purposes.

The History of Augmented Reality

The first rudimentary form of AR was invented in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland. Southerland created the game Sword of Damocles and a mounted headset to display the game.

The term Augmented Reality was coined in 1990 by Tom Claudell, who worked as a researcher for Boeing. From 1990 onwards, AR began to progress rapidly. In 1992 while working for the US Airforce, Louis Rosenberg invented the first fully immersive AR system, and by 1998 AR was being used as a navigational aid in American spacecraft.

The first appearance of AR in the entertainment industry was in 2000 with the release of the game Quake in AR format. Another giant leap occurred in 2005 with augmented reality apps integrated with cell phones.

In 2008 BMW used AR in print advertisements, and the first AR-enabled magazine appeared in 2009. In 2012 the first AR cloud-based app was released, and in 2014 AR was integrated into Google Class.

In 2016 a literal game-changing moment occurred with the Nintendo release of Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go enjoyed worldwide popularity, and it represented the first successful integration of AR technology into the mainstream gaming industry.

After the success of Pokemon Go, AR became integrated into numerous games, and by 2017 it is estimated that there were 37 million regular AR users in the US.

There are now over 67 million AR users globally. With Covid restrictions and social distancing forcing people to spend more time at home, analysts predict this number will grow substantially.


Statistics & Facts on Augmented Reality (AR)

Worldwide Augmented Reality in Healthcare Industry to 2025

AR has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1968 and is now a multi-Billion-dollar global enterprise.

In 2020 the AR global market was valued at USD 14.7 Billion, and experts estimate it will reach USD 88.4 billion by 2026. Analysts also predict it will experience a growth rate of 31.5% from 2021 to 2026

When broken down into segments, the AR market is just as impressive. In 2021 the Mobile AR market generated approximately 9.5 bn USD, and the number of active mobile AR users was an estimated 810 Million.

In 2019 the AR glasses industry generated over 410 bn USD, and in the Healthcare industry, AR generated US$779.994 Million. By 2025 the generated revenue is expected to reach US$ 4,057,144 Million.

When the three segments, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality, are combined, the estimated worth is over 30.7 Billion U.S., and analysts have forecast this figure may rise as high as 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.

AR has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1968 and is now a multi-Billion-dollar global enterprise.


The traditional view of AR saw the technology as only being used in the gaming industry. However, the reality is far from that, and AR is used throughout a diverse range of industries.


One major industry that relies extensively on AR is manufacturing. In the manufacturing industry they concentrate on two primary factors which when combined equal efficiency. These factors are accuracy/preciseness and time. Through utilizing AR manufacturers have managed to gain a much higher level of accuracy and have substantially quickened the manufacturing process.

For example, AR has enabled remote support for the workforce. Workers using complicated machinery can now receive advice and instructions remotely and by using AR the instructions can be given two-dimensionally which makes them easier to understand.

The end result of this is a reduction in machine downtime which means increased production and a reduction in costs.

AR is also used extensively in the mining industry. Using AR specialized mining personnel can conduct virtual inspections of the mining machinery and the environment the machinery will be used in. The end result is increased worker safety and less machinery downtime.

Augmented Reality is proving to be an extremely important tool in the maritime industry. The maritime industry uses AR to provide remote assistance, workforce training, inspections and maintenance. The result is the workforce is more highly trained and able to work more efficiently and be prepared for emergencies.


Insurance is by definition, based upon incoming payments, in the form of policy purchasers, and outgoing payments, in the form of insurance claims. A significant amount of the insurance business involves investigating the legitimacy of insurance claims and this is where AR is making major inroads. Insurance investigators and assessors can view a situation, inspect and access the damage, and even determine liability, all done remotely.

The entire accessing and investigating process can be documented for later use and the AR technology brings customers and insurance personnel closer and improves customer service.


AR is rapidly becoming a prominent influence in education. Through using AR, new methods of teaching and learning are developing. For example, using AR, teachers can present real situations in (3D). A 3D lesson increases the fun factor and makes it more interesting for students and teachers.

Because it is more engaging, the 3D format allows information to be transmitted, perceived and, understood more easily.

Proponents of AR argue that it is a new way of learning and it creates a more empowered and more knowledgeable future generation. Secondly, they point out that AR helps students become more engaged in sports and lead healthier lifestyles.


Augmented technology is being used extensively in the Healthcare industry. AR is helping educate not only the medical personnel but also the patients. Initially, AR was a teaching device in the field of anatomy.

Augmented Reality presented 3D models that helped students gain a better anatomical understanding of the human body and all its parts.

Students could now observe different body parts, how the body parts function, and the effects of medical procedures.

AR is also used extensively in the more specialized fields of medicine. For example, surgeons will utilize AR to produce 3-dimensional models of patient anatomy. AR enables surgeons to visualize and plan the surgery and helps them with accuracy.


AR is increasingly influencing the travel industry. By giving tourists 3D images along with audio guides for various destinations.

AR allows 360degree tours, which tourists can use to Virtually Explore an area before visiting for real.

Lastly, this technology is being used by numerous different businesses, for example, restaurants and hotels, that depend on tourist dollars for their survival.

Supply Chain

In the supply chain, AR is applied to areas such as inventory management and is revolutionizing procedures such as loading, unloading, and tracking. Augmented Reality adds a virtual overlay onto the inventory data that helps businesses provide incremental instructions for workers to follow.

In turn, this makes procedures such as loading and tracking more efficient and less costly.

Through Smart Glasses, AR facilitates hands-free procedures that improve safety and simultaneously reduce training costs and downtime costs.

AR contributes to nearly all industrial processes, making them more efficient and adding value. However, the influence of AR is not limited to industrial processes. AR is now also applied to different sectors throughout society. For example, AR is being used to improve performance in diverse areas like sports and culinary endeavors through geography, storytelling, and sales demonstrations. AR is key to conducting immersive training sessions, printing, and Real-Time remote assistance.

AR is radically changing the business world by bringing in new procedures that increase efficiency and employee engagement. AR also helps to minimize costs and change the dynamics of the company-customer relationship.

An increasing number of company heads have recognized the short and long-term benefits of Automated Reality.


Top 14 Augmented Reality Companies [2021 SELECTIVE]

AR is arguably the fastest-growing technology sector. This growth is due to advances in the healthcare, retail, gaming, and education sectors.

Some of the top AR companies are as follows;

Niantic This company developed the Pokemon Go app, which analysts estimate generated $2 billion. The company has also developed other AR games such as Harry Porter and Wizards Unite. The company has 715 employees, 4 locations in North America, and a revenue of $104 Million.

ScienceSoft:  Based in the US at (McKinney, Texas) ScienceSoft is a company that has specialized in developing high-end AR apps for 16 years. The company also supplies 3D models that enable extreme precision. ScienceSoft has national and international operations, an A list of clients, and generates approximately $25 Million in revenue.

Scanta:  Scanta is a company that first entered the AR field in 2016. It is a specialty tech company based in Delaware with only 22 employees. Scanta combines different technologies to create one new technology. The company created the world’s first AR Emoji app and has an A client list that includes companies like Google and Apple.  Revenue: $4 Million

Many other companies operate in the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technology fields. Some of the most prominent include “NextNow”, 4Experience, CitrusBits, VironIT, and VR Vision Inc. Tech giants like Apple and Microsoft are also involved in AR development, and you can see why Augmented Reality makes such a good investment.


Why Businesses Are Investing in Augmented Reality | AR

Trends show rapid growth of the industry in the past and currently. By observing recent trends, analysts have concluded, global AR/VR spending will increase 6x by 2024.

Augmented technology is constantly evolving in combination with other forms of technology. There will always be a need for AR, and as Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has predicted, AR will pervade our entire lives.

AR is not affected by happenings such as pandemics and resulting social changes. AR sales have increased during the pandemic, and AR has become part of the New Normal.

Businesses use AR to increase efficiency, adapt to new market conditions, and achieve financial objectives.

Augmented Reality creates its market because consumers become dependent on it. But unlike other technologies, it is adaptable and never becomes obsolete. AR combines with other technology, and together they make new technology.

Business leaders and consumers see AR as the primary means of operating in the future. 75% of current business leaders see a combination of AR and other technologies as the future of business.

Adaptability is key to the success of AR. AR easily adapts and becomes part of prevailing business structures. For example, eCommerce. Customers can remotely try/experience the product before purchasing.

The 2019 Nielson global consumer behavior survey demonstrated high consumer confidence in AR. A significantly large percentage of respondents said they were comfortable using AR in their daily lives and predicted they would find new uses for AR in the future.

There are many AR success stories. Large companies such as Home Depot and Macy’s have reported higher conversion rates and lower return rates since installing Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality is a vision of the future unfolding before our eyes. If this is true, it would seem that AR is indeed an augmented investment.

General Links

What is Augmented Reality?

Why Every Organization Needs an Augmented Reality ›