Please Augment My Reality!

When I first heard the term Augmented Reality,  I like many others envisioned a free spirited love child that ingested too many hallucinogenic substances and was experiencing an altered mental state.  My thirst for knowledge to understand how this new innovative technology would impact patient and physician marketing led to that perspective being quickly replaced by two commonly accepted definitions of Augmented Reality today.

Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino defined Milgram’s Reality-Virtuality Continuum in 1994 as a continuum that spans from the real environment to a pure virtual environment.  In between there are Augmented Reality (closer to the real environment) and Augmented Virtuality (is closer to the virtual environment).  The second definition by Ronald Azuma suggests that Augmented Reality combines real and virtual, is interactive in real time and is registered in 3D.

So now that I’ve debunked a misguided definition that Augmented Reality was invented as a result of a hallucinogenic episode, a historical review will help put into perspective the technological advances that led to this point.

  • 1957-62: Morton Heilig, a cinematographer, creates and patents a simulator called Sensorama with visuals, sound, vibration, and smell.
  • 1966: Ivan Sutherland invents the head-mounted display suggesting it was a window into a virtual world.
  • 1975: Myron Krueger creates Videoplace that allows users to interact with virtual objects for the first time.
  • 1989: Jaron Lanier coins the phrase Virtual Reality and creates the first commercial business around virtual worlds.
  • 1992: Tom Caudell coins the phrase Augmented Reality while at Boeing helping workers assemble cables into aircraft.
  • 1992: L.B. Rosenberg develops one of the first functioning Augmented Reality systems, called VIRTUAL FIXTURES, at the U.S. Air Force Armstrong Labs, and demonstrates benefit on human performance.
  • 1992: Steven Feiner, Blair MacIntyre and Doree Seligmann present first major paper on an Augmented Reality system prototype, KARMA, at the Graphics Interface conference. Widely cited version of the paper is published in Communications of the ACM next year.
  • 1999: Hirokazu Kato (加藤 博一) created ARToolKit at HITLab, where Augmented Reality later is further developed by other HITLab scientists and it is demonstrated at SIGGRAPH that year.
  • 2000: Bruce H. Thomas develops ARQuake, the first outdoor mobile Augmented Reality game, and is demonstrated in the International Symposium on Wearable Computers.
  • 2008: Wikitude AR Travel Guide launches on Oct. 20, 2008 with the G1 Android phone.
  • 2009: Wikitude Drive – Augmented Reality Navigation System launches on Oct. 28, 2009 for the Android platform.
  • 2009: Augmented Reality Toolkit is ported to Adobe Flash (FLARToolkit) by Saqoosha, bringing AR to the web browser.
  • 2010: acrossair, Augmented Reality Browser bringing augmented reality to the mobile user on the iPhone 3Gs for hyper-local search.

Clearly Augmented Reality is an innovative technology that has evolved over a long period and was accelerated  as a result of the advances in technology over the last 20 years.  Gary Hayes provided his perspective on Augmented Reality by categorizing the different usages .  Leveraging the business models he identified as a baseline provides some insight into how to potentially leverage the technology to market to patients and physicians.

  • IN SITU: Aiding sale by seeing projects & products placed in the environment before completion. The benefit of a customer or client seeing a finished project, before it is complete.   This application could prove helpful to a physician who is teaching a husband or partner how to administer an intramuscular injection to facilitate ovarian stimulation for In Vitro Fertilization.  This type of application will make it easier for a caregiver to administer doses quickly reducing angst, frustration and numerous phone call to the physician.
  • TRAINING: Hands-on with complex equipment and work scenarios. Using ‘outline’ recognition this allows us to be virtually ‘hands-on’ with complex equipment in difficult-to-practise work scenarios.  This type of functionality could assist medical students by providing a visual “roadmap” in executing complex procedures or utilizing medical devices.  Thus improving procedural success rates in “live” situations. Actually, this is not a “new” application, it has been in use for about the last decade.  None the less, will take greater prominence from a marketing perspective.
  • RECOGNITION & TARGETING: Pushing ‘relevance’ to outdoor consumers – facial recognition linked to online data.  While this approach could be riddled with privacy issues, leveraging this technology in the privacy of a physicians exam room could prove extremely productive in a physicians practice by pre-loading patient data onto the physicians laptop. Having instant access to patient history, condition, medication and preference data  overlaid with biometric data could prove a time saver.   Not to mention also serve as a reminder to physician when patient money saving offers or new education programs are available.

To review Gary Hayes complete list of innovative Augmented Reality business models, click on the following link: