Monday, October 1, 2007

Augmented Reality

A new cell phone advancement in augmented reality has been developed but not yet adopted by any mobile providers because they have not decided if people will use it in their businesses and everyday lives. Augmented reality can increase knowledge and information, but it is also a confusing tool that has potential to decrease productivity.

What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality is a function that can retrieve information about the location that the user’s cell phone is in. Using data from sensors, the phone can calculate the location of any object its camera is aimed at. Each time the phone changes location, it retrieves the names and geographical coordinates of nearby landmarks from an external database. Then, the user can download additional information about the location from the web (as seen in the image to the left). For example, if a person aimed their phone at a building, information like the names of businesses in a building, the cost of visiting that building, and its hours and menus would be retrieved. Another form of augmented reality takes the information from the location it is being aimed at and then produces a see-through video virtual model that is projected onto an object.

How could businesses use it to their advantage?
Augmented reality can improve the customer service aspect of a business. For example, augmented reality could be used in a museum to provide a guide for tourists on their cell phones. As they walk through the exhibits with their phone, the system would determine which exhibit the person is looking at and present related information on the phone’s display. This could improve the business because they do not have to hire museum guides or make accommodations for tourists who speak foreign languages. Augmented reality could also be useful to customers by providing product information to their cell phones so they do not have to call the company for help. Augmented reality could project an image, for instance, of how the customer can properly assemble a product along with written instructions.

What are the disadvantages of augmented reality?
Some engineers believe that augmented reality functions are too complex for a commercial application. They also believe that since cell phone cameras have low image quality and hardware limitations, having the system on a mobile phone would be impractical. If people in an organization adopt augmented reality to their phones but have trouble using it, problems in communication could surface. Relying on augmented reality functions as sources of information can also create problems because there is a higher risk of system errors. Also, if businesses replace, for example, a customer service hotline employee with augmented reality information, customers who have problems that their phones could not provide answers to would be unhappy with a product. Lastly, augmented reality could invade the privacy of an organization because anyone, including customers and competitors, could access all the published information about the business.

The future of augmented reality?
Nokia has already began working on real-time image-recognition algorithms in hopes algorithms will eliminate the need for location sensors and improve their system’s accuracy and reliability. Augmented reality is nearly ready for the market but wireless mobile carriers like Sprint and Verizon are not yet convinced customers will pay for these functions so it may not be launched for a couple of years. At this time, augmented reality will probably be more practical because cell phone quality will be improved. If augmented reality on cell phones becomes simpler to use, it could be useful in accessing immediate information and increasing the knowledge of workers and customers.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

There are several advantages of using mobile phones for business purposes. Utilizing Business Mobiles will allow all company personnel to remain in contact with each other at all times, whether in or out of the office. Phones connect the various members of a business on all levels, allowing them to always be focused, reachable, organized, and up-to-date on business operations. The advantages of using mobile phones in business can be summarized by their enabling of constant accessibility, portable and convenient internet connection, and organization capabilities.