Augmented reality: A glimpse into the future as Hull businesses get on board

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 23 Jul 2018

Augmented reality. Something many will have heard of, fewer will have experienced, and some will never have seen before.

You could be mistaken for thinking AR technology is something still in its very early stages, or has not been mastered yet.

What you may not realise, is that many of Hull’s businesses are already using AR tech in their day-to—day lives.

A conference held at Hull’s C4DI on Thursday, July 19 – led by forward-thinking city-based Eon Visual Media – shed light on the world of augmented reality, and how it is being used in Hull every day.

Matt Dass, managing director at Eon Visual Media, said: “The first thing to learn is the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality.

“VR (virtual reality) is a fully-immersive, 360 degree experience. The BBC for example released a VR feature for the World Cup. You had a number of cameras placed around the stadium, and you could choose where you wanted to watch from.

“Augmented reality will be a more shared experience. We wanted to connect the real world to the digital world.”

Anyone remember the Pokemon Go craze which saw thousands of people scour the streets with their phones, looking to catch creatures which popped up in front of them?

The app game is perhaps the most commonly-known example of AR technology.

Read more: Hull company creates app which tells you when your boiler has broken

A lesser known use is hidden inside the latest Apple Maps update.

Searching for the city – such as Hull – gives you the option to do a ‘flyover tour.’

Using AR technology, you can navigate around the city in an incredible way, as if you are flying over and looking down yourself.

“There are three different triggers for augmented reality,” Mr Dass said.

“One is a simple 2D trigger, like a QR code, where you click and it takes you somewhere else.

“The second is GPS, used for Pokemon Go. That is using something digital and bringing it into the real world using your GPS location.

“The final way is 3D object and environment tracking, where you can place objects which do not exist into a real space to see how it interacts.”

Read more: C4DI is a 'beacon for technology'

But how is AR tech being used in Hull? And more interestingly, who is using it?

Companies including Reckitt-Benckiser, Siemens Gamesa, Ideal Standard and Spencer Group are all getting in on the game.

Bathroom specialist Ideal uses an AR app which allows you to drop a virtual image of one of its products into your room, to see how it looks and fits.

You can change the colour and texture of the product, and move it around the room.

RB, multinational producer of household names including Nurofen, Gaviscon and Strepsils, has created an AR human being.

It is used to show how different illnesses – such as a common headache – affects the body, and allows the user to look inside the body and explore.

Read more: Hull schools and community groups to get free access to open network in bid to create 'smart city'

The app then shows how products such as Nurofen combat illnesses, and even tells you which product would be best for you.

AR tech is also leading the way in advanced training, and Siemens Gamesa is a key player in the sector.

Engineers are using headsets to simulate a range of situations that could be encountered while installing offshore wind turbines.

Augmented reality is already playing a central role in a range of industries, from healthcare and manufacturing to construction and retail.

Mr Dass said he predicted in 2019, everyone would be going out and buying a pair of AR glasses.

If current evidence is to be believed, he could well be right.

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