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general augmented reality for rookies

Ibe Owunwanne

By Ibe Owunwanne

Posted on: 17 October 2018

You’re heading to the grocery store. You want to recreate your mother’s award-winning meatloaf kabob. You have the ingredients saved in the grocery store’s app. When you arrive, you start the app on your phone. Immediately, an arrow shows up on your phone, but this arrow looks like it’s actually on the floor of the store. You can see your feet on top of the arrow, and it starts guiding you to all the aisles for your ingredients. Viewing one of the ingredients through your phone’s camera, you see the nutritional information. But the information is floating in mid-air! There is even a little side bar that shows any coupons that can be applied.  This is augmented reality.

Our smartphones are influencing how we interact with the world around us and here at mobileforming, we’re creating apps for our next move: augmented reality.

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Augmented reality is when 3D objects are overlaid the real world environment. Not to be confused with virtual reality, which is a computer simulated environment that is detached from reality.

We won’t be the first to venture there. AR applications are taking the world by storm, so we’re joining the game with our own unique take.

We saw Snapchat entertain the masses. With its various lens and filters, consumers can don cartoon faces or face swap with friends. Other social media platforms like Instagram joined with their own filters, but nothing can top Snapchat’s iconic puppy filter.

Google Glass was supposed to be the device to usher us into an augmented reality era, but consumers never took that magic leap.

Then, Pokemon Go killed the game. When you first join the mobileforming team, they ask you what your favorite app is—Pokemon Go is mine. It was the game of the summer when it first came out. The Verge wrote about how Pokemon Go was “destined to be a short-lived fad” but then it “turned into a global phenomenon.” You couldn’t (still can’t) walk outside without seeing someone with a Squirtle or Pikachu on their phone. It allowed us to play a childhood favorite in the real world.

The future of visualization lies in augmented reality. It might not be new, but it is emerging into the mainstream thanks to the portability and affordability smartphones present.

As we move into this era, we are learning more and more about the capabilities of AR on smartphones. We’re working on how to create something useful while pushing the boundaries of what we think AR could do.

Like the smartphone, augmented reality is a technology that will impact and change every industry that adopts it.


Imagine how medical students could use this technology: students can utilize AR in dissection labs instead of  cadavers. This eliminates the issue of a cramped classroom with limited views. It also allows for the students to see the blood running through the veins and other bodily systems working together in a way that wasn’t possible with actual cadavers.

Imagine being on a construction site, and you see the blueprint in a heads up display and can swipe through blueprints for multiple floors at a time.

Even your day-to-day habits and routines will be affected by AR. We’ve already witnessed our methods of communicating change with the features in Snapchat and other social platforms, and that was just the beginning.

Augmented reality is on the come up. Different businesses and organizations around the world are trying to make their mark on this new era of tech. To make sure you’re ready, play around with the different apps in the market. Download them and see what’s done well and what isn’t. Start with the obvious like Pokemon Go, or check out this list for others. Research as much as you can and see what the big players—like Apple and Google—are doing to push the technology forward.

While you’re exploring the reality augmentation has to offer, I’m going to go catch the Charmander in our office. If you want to read more about AR from a technological standpoint, follow us for a follow-up post by our android developer, Sebastian. 

Here are some terms you might need to join the AR conversation us cool kids are having:

  • Plane Finding - the smartphone-specific process by which ARCore determines where horizontal and vertical surfaces are in your environment and uses those surfaces to place and orient digital objects
  • Multi-plane detection - ARCore's ability to detect various surfaces as different height and depth
  • Anchors - user-defined points of interest upon which AR objects are placed. Anchors are created and updated relative to geometry (planes, points, etc.) ARCore detects in the environment.
  • Occlusion - when one 3D object blocks another 3D object. Currently, this can only happen with digital objects. ARCore objects cannot be occluded by a real world object.
  • Concurrent Odometry and Mapping (COM) - motion tracking process for ARCore, and tracks the smartphone’s location in relation to its surrounding world.
  • Environmental understanding - understanding the real world environment by detecting feature points and planes and using them as reference points to map the environment. Also referred to as context awareness.
Ibe Owunwanne

About the author

Ibe is a product manager at mobileforming. He is excited to get the ball rolling on our AR projects.