Virtual Reality devices have for several years now been in the spotlight in the consumer market, focusing on gaming and entertainment use cases. Much effort has been made to increase the perceived video resolution and reduce sensor latency in order to create a desirable experience with less risk of motion sickness. In parallel, Augmented Reality has been pressing forward in an attempt to improve lifestyle and business interactions.
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not obscure your vision, instead it attempts to become a part of your environment, seamlessly blending with your surroundings, adding timely and helpful information. While this can come in the form of a head-mounted display, like virtual reality, it is now commonly found in static devices, usually taking the form of a large format, high resolution color display. Due to their less-intrusive nature – who would want to wear a cumbersome headset? – these devices are well positioned as the next breakout gadgets across a wide variety of markets including fitness, cosmetics and media collaboration in huddle spaces.
Interactive fitness has exploded in popularity. The largest names in fitness have all released updated product lines incorporating large interactive full-color displays, marking a departure from the LCD display, stats-only gym equipment of the past.
This, however, is only part of the story of developments in the fitness market. For many consumers, traditional gym equipment is either too expensive, too large to fit in cramped living spaces, or risks gathering dust due to non-use. Augmented-reality powered interactive devices have neatly solved this problem and also created a new platform for subscription-based remote fitness courses.
Using a large high resolution display, an optical camera, and a processor with integrated wireless capabilities, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets, affordable low-profile video-centric fitness experiences can be delivered without any special equipment needed. Mounted to a wall, and often hidden behind a mirror for cosmetic purposes, these interactive fitness devices let you work out to pre-recorded routines, stream live group fitness classes, or work one-on-one with a fitness instructor.
Since the display itself is equipment agnostic, classes can be provided for any equipment on-hand, whether it be kettlebells, a stationary bike, treadmill, or just your own body. Aside from the obvious consumer benefits, fitness experts can also use the platform as a way to expand their customer base without having to invest in additional space.
Once you’ve started tackling your fitness goals, the next step is to lock down your hair and cosmetic routine. While you could trust the advice from your local salon, wouldn’t it be nice if you could test-drive your new look before spending hundreds of dollars on products and changes that last for months? That’s exactly what some forward-looking developers are working on.
With advances in facial recognition and mapping of three dimensional spaces and objects (like faces, hair, and nails) using standard optical cameras, it has become possible to preview changes in hair color, foundation, lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, highlighter, blush, bronzer, and nail polish in real-time and at the touch of a button (or the wave of a hand, as the case may be).
You can try specific makeup brands to see how they look on your skin tone, as well as pick a specific hair color or treatment, all without spending a penny. Once you’ve picked the look you like, you get a list of the products you selected that you can use to make a purchase, or have your salon get started on your new look. Without the advances made in object recognition, classification, and gesture navigation powered by computer vision libraries like Qualcomm’s FastCV, it would not be economical to bring devices like this to the consumer market.
In addition to consumer health and beauty applications, static augmented reality is also breaking into corporate collaboration and communication. Typical corporate conference rooms already have a large display and audio system, often incorporating perfectly serviceable video conferencing tools.
However while this makes it easy to talk, it is less useful when attempting to collaborate with local and remote teams on the large screen. In lieu of just transmitting video, an augmented reality display can allow gesture-powered controls and real-time markup of presentation materials. Your latest product specs can be edited hands-free while manipulating three-dimensional mockups, all in real-time.
Complex Gantt-chart schedules for engineering projects can be broken down in large format, allowing your team to catch every possible resource usage optimization, without squinting or having to make a poster-size print. The possibilities for improvements to the interactive experience tailored to specific industries are endless and will continue to develop.
Within the next one to three years, you can expect to see more markets adopt augmented reality as a technology that provides a tangible and cost-effective improvement to current business practices and consumer-facing experiences. With the cost of computation, cameras, and displays all dropping, and mobile processor companies like Qualcomm continuing to optimize the augmented reality capabilities of their chipsets, it will only get easier to deploy augmented-reality-capable hardware.
SMART Wireless Computing has been a long-running Qualcomm Embedded Solutions Partner for their Snapdragon product line. Our platforms based on multiple generations of Snapdragon are all enabled to run Compute Vision libraries to make AR based products a reality.