Girl using AR headset on bicycle.

The History of Augmented Reality

For many of us Augmented Reality may be a relatively new technology but the truth is that the history of Augmented Reality has existed from the nineties. The first person to use the term Augmented Reality was a professor by the name of Tom Caudell. He worked for Boeing Computer Services in Boeing’s hometown of Seattle. Professor Caudell wanted to improve manufacturing processes and so he turned to virtual reality technologies to help him out. The result of his search led him to complete some very complicated software that could overlay the positioning of things in the building process.

Virtual Fixtures
While professor Caudell was searching for a solution there were a couple of other teams that were also doing important work with this new technology, contributing to the history of Augmented Reality. Then in the year 1992, the first Augmented Reality system was brought to the notice and was also used by the United States Air Force. This early version went by the name of Virtual Fixtures and was used to train pilots.

At about the same time, another group which was to become a leader in AR technology, came up with a paper that they called Knowledge-based Augmented Reality for Maintenance Assistance or KARMA for short. This team belonged to Columbia University and their main contribution was that they came up with an HMD with attached trackers. This early implementation of AR tech helped people understand how to completely service a machine without even having to refer to any manual.

Hirokazu Kato
Till the end of the nineties, Augmented Reality was still a relatively unknown and new concept. At the time people involved with developing AR technology had to use complex software as well as bulky items of equipment. However, things changed once Hirokazu Kato, who worked for Nara Institute of Science and Technology, came out with software that was very unique and which he called ARToolKit. This piece of software has helped to revolutionize in the history of Augmented Reality because it allowed for capturing videos of real world actions and then combined this with virtual object interactions.

Bruce Thomas
In the year 2000 a person called Bruce Thomas who worked for Wearable Computer Lab was able to demonstrate the first outdoor mobile Augmented Reality video game. This new game went by the name of ARQuake and it worked with just a computer backpack as well as some gyroscopes.

Smartphone AR applications
The next big change in the history of Augmented Reality technology came about in the year 2008 when the world was introduced to the first AR applications that worked on your smart phones. These apps allowed anyone from any part of the world to make full use of this new AR technology. In the beginning the apps were developed for Android users and they allowed you to use your mobile phone camera to view various augmentations on the screen indicating points of interest. Soon, this app became available on the iPhone and was called Wikitude Drive.

Since then AR technology has gained recognition and new developments have regularly been made. Video gaming companies along with software providers have used AR tech to deliver the most outstanding as well as realistic experiences to users from all over the world, with much more to come.

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