Basis of Augmented Reality: Tool Usage

The perhaps first augmented reality system as we understand it now is made by Ivan Sutherland in 1968. But the fundamental concepts of augmented reality (AR) are significantly older: In principle AR means a technological extended perception of the physical reality in real time. Therefore a tool provides additional information. Consequently was a stick to test the carrying capacity of the ground in swampy terrain an old example of real haptic AR.


19th Century: First Technical Visions

Jule Vernes „The Carpathian Castle“ (1893) presented the first fictional AR application: A lifelike projection (information) of a human being complements their audible voice (perception). Further a short story by Lyman Frank Baum (1901) describes a pair of glasses with displayed information to watched people. 


Realisation in the 60s: The Other Consciousness Expansion

1968 Ivan Sutherland showed his real optical AR system at the university of Utah. It created simple 3D graphics as real time superimposition of real objects using mechanical tracking of the users movements. As interface served a head-mounted-display.


The 90s: Concept formation, Boeing and Orbit

„Augmented Reality“ became a concept by the beginning of the 90s: David Mizell and Tom Caudell (both Boing Company) augmented the field of view with further data for next steps in building a jet. In this decade radionavigation per satellite (GPS, Galileo etc.) and mobile devices (Smartphones, Pads and so on) increased the relevance of AR considerably. 1997 MARS (mobiles Augmented Reality System, Columbia University, New York) was developed: Via GPS Data about several campus buildings gets displayed (head-worn). Data display and calculation is done by a laptop mounted on the back.


21st Century: New Technical Visions

Starting in the year 2000 the number of AR applications increased noticeably in the areas entertainment (games) and education (for example museums). Already in 2000 a prototypical AR browser was created at the Georgia Institute of Technology: WWW-Information complemented the image of the physical environment in the head-mounted-display thanks to a complex tracking. Wikitude served as a AR browser on smartphones since 2008. 2009 the iPhone 3GS offers AR relevant sensors and sufficient processing power. Since then Augmented Reality got more and more mainstream through new apps and content. Ultimately new technological trends hint to the fusion of human perception with the sensor technology of the Internet of Things.