Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.
When AR is used in real-time it conveys data to the user to ease and improve the perception of the surroundings. Basically, the data is displayed onto a visual medium, a screen usually, to visually overlay all the necessary information in real-time. This type of system is known as HUD (heads-up display). Information being presented in use is usually directly referred for the situational awareness of the user. Information can be in the form of text, pictures, video or/and telemetry data.
An excellent example is the first augmented reality motorcycle helmet – the Skully AR-1. It is certainly not the first AR device, however it is the first commercially available one and anyone can buy it.
A fine example how augmenting information can help us improve our situational awareness and ease our natural sensory input by overlaying relevant data in real-time.
As with all great ideas the makers turned to crowd funding to raise both the funds and interest for its unique device. The funding campaign was an instant success and the news about its features spread on the internet like wildfire. People interested and willing to pledge and support the team received discounts for the final product when it went into production.
The production model really has some stand out features and for now it is only one of its kind on the market. The Skully AR-1 is marketed as a smart motorcycle helmet that offers complete situational awareness. It offers an always in focus heads up display that shows speed, turn-based navigation and displays the rear view camera feed in real-time too.
This 180 degree rear view camera is an ultra-wide field of view type and it guarantees that the driver will never be in a blind spot situation, not even when there is a second passenger behind him. With Bluetooth connectivity on-board and integrated audio the wearer can use mobile phones for hands-free calling or for entertainment purposes like streaming music.
The tech specs for Skully AR-1 motorcycle helmet
- Lightweight, aerodynamic polycarbonate shell
- Ultra wide angle rearview camera
- DOT/ECE safety certification
- SKULLY anti-fog, anti-scratch, anti-glare visor
- SKULLY Synapse(TM) Vision Enhancement – shows true-to-life imaging of rearview panorama
- Audio/Visual GPS Navigation
- SKULLY Synapse(TM) Smart Heads up Display System with infinite focus
- SKULLY quick release chin strap and visor
- 3D laser-cut foam for a perfect fit
- Bluetooth connectivity to smartphone
- Internet connectivity via smartphone
- Over-the-air updates – download new features as they are released
This device only shows a glimpse of the future use of augmented reality in our daily lives. This year we shall see the use of AR in all the aspects of our daily lives. The entertainment is what comes to mind first yet AR will truly shine in educational and professional application. Imagine doctors using it during live procedures to make precise incisions and procedures and operate with pinpoint accuracy as they have a direct view of the patient’s body structure with augmented reality.
Microsoft is leading the massive development push for AR with its HoloLens project initiative and it strives to make the augmented reality an everyday experience. It is not that difficult to guess that AR will be a standard in every home. The possibilities of its use are limitless and we are only scratching the surface of what is possible with it.
By Nikola F.