Group 16: Jon P and Kirk S

Digital Augmented Reality

Table of Contents

Group Members

Team Member Name Email Skype ID
Jonathan Pizzo (Team Lead) ude.fcu.sthgink|79noJecI#ude.fcu.sthgink|79noJecI FrontinV4
Kirk Schilling ude.fcu.sthgink|s.kriK#ude.fcu.sthgink|s.kriK A5firemen


Imagine driving through an unfamiliar town. You don’t know the area. Fortunately, turn-by-turn navigation is projected onto your windshield allowing you to easily get to your destination. Points of interest, restaurants, and gas stations with current prices are displayed as well. Imagine that a surgeon operating on a loved-one not only sees the operation, but also has digital landmarks projected right into the incision. Imagine your auto mechanic looking under the hood of your car and seeing performance information projected right onto your engine. All of these things are no longer imagination; they are the realm of digital augmented reality (AR).

What is Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is the blending of physical reality with virtual, or computer generated, reality (simply put, digitalizing reality). Augmented reality superimposes computer generated images of data over the user's view of the world. The overlaid data can be anything relevant to the user. A surgeon might have a patient's vital signs, body landmarks, or even a full MRI image digitally inserted into his view. A smart-phone user might have the digital images overlaid onto the video from the phone’s camera. Typically, augmented reality uses a display of some type. The display could be anything from a cell phone, to a car's windshield, to a head-worn display unit. Until such time as technology has progressed to the point of free-standing holograms, a personal display of some type will be required.

Augmented Reality in Smartphones

The capabilities of today’s smartphones are endless. These smartphones allow the user to perform a wide array of tasks. Google’s Android operating system (OS) and Apple’s iOS, are the two biggest OS’s available for smartphone. Almost all the OS platforms have some type of AR application available. In conjunction with the smartphone, AR applications may allow the user to navigate via GPS, play AR games, use AR to social network, or lookup information on a place. There may be many variations and developers of these apps, however they all serve the same purpose and operate very similar to each other. Picking an app to use is strictly user preference. Check out the table below to learn more about the many variations of AR applications that can be found on a smartphone.

  • GPS Navigation
    • Navigate via Smartphone camera.
    • Shows point of interest into horizon view.
    • Set way points, or points of navigation while camping, boating, hiking, or on any unknown terrain and view such ways point and relative data via phone’s camera.
  • Games
    • Play games with friends or random opponents.
    • May require additional devices or may over lay data over reality via camera.
  • Social Networking
    • Combined with GPS view users location of time of Tweets around town, or Tweets relative to a geographical location via Smartphones camera.
  • Wikipedia Information
    • Combined with GPS see information on places, buildings/structures while pointing the user’s camera in such directions.

Augmented Reality Games


There are a number of augmented reality games available for play, or being released in the near future. On April 4th, 2011, MIT and The Smithsonian will launch an augmented reality game called Vanished. It is a game designed for 10 to 14 year-olds to get them to become more interested in the sciences. The game is a mix of reality and online experiences where the children solve a mystery in a collaborative environment (Massachussets Institute of Technology, 2011)

Augmented reality games are not limited to educational games for children. Ogmento, a game design company, which is currently marketing an augmented reality game for the Apple iPhone called Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary. In the game, players hunt zombies and demons in their own neighborhood. The game adds digital ‘bad-guys’, spells, and other game elements to the phone’s camera view. The player can cast ‘spells’ by drawing on a piece of paper and holding it in front of the phone’s camera. Paranormal Activity showcases all of the versatility of augmented reality. It uses the phone’s camera of the view of the world with digital effects added in, GPS data to position the game around the player, and the phone’s data connection to connect the player’s game with all of the other players around the world (Paramount Pictures, 2010)

Augmented Reality GPS

Augmented Reality, especially out-door and public uses of augmented reality, take advantage of Geo Positioning Satellites (GPS). GPS allows one to locate ones location and altitude to within a meter of accuracy (, 2011). GPS receivers are installed in almost all current smart phones, tablets, and PDA’s (Personal Data Assistants). GPS can also be easily added to any kind of computer controlled equipment.

Augmented reality leverages the availability and accuracy of GPS to “digitize” the user’s location, altitude, and direction of travel. This in turn allows the augmented reality application to easily overlay the digital data with the user’s location data and view of the world. Thus, when a user looks at a street through the application, the software knows where in the world the user is, and in what direction they are looking.

Augmented Reality Utility Applications

There are a number of utility applications available for smart phone on the market. Applications like Layar, Wertago, and Popcode use augmented reality to give valuable information to the user. Layar gives the user information about what businesses are within the camera’s view. Layar uses the phone’s GPS to pin-point the user’s position on the map. It then combines business data from the internet with the view from the phone’s camera, and displays the result on the phone’s screen.

Wertago uses the phone’s GPS data, business data from the internet, subscriber’s social networking data, and other subscriber’s posts to recommend business establishments. It also allows users to post where they are, and what is going on at that business. The application aims to provide the user with up-to-the-minute information about the restaurant, bar, or other establishment the user is considering patronizing. The user now has the opportunity to evaluate the clientele, services, and establishment prior to walking through the door.

The Popcode application allows the user to view augmented test and pictures. In other words, view a Popcode enabled picture with your phone’s camera, and the Popcode application adds digital content to the view. Popcode can be used on any printed material from advertising to t-shirts to instructions for putting furniture together. For instance, an assembly manual for a shelf unit could be encoded so that when the user points his phone’s camera at the instructions, a more detailed image can be shown with moving parts. Popcode was developed by Cambridge University to show that augmented reality can be achieved with simple plain-text input read from the phone’s camera. There are no bar-codes to read or anything of that nature. (University of Cambrige, 2010)

AR Technologies in the Private and Government fields

Imagine using AR technologies to repair your vehicle. When a vehicle malfunctions, most people take it into the shop to have a mechanic fix it. With AR technology imaging, wearing a device, such as a pair of glasses, will show you step by step how to change the oil on your vehicle, or maybe even something more complicated like replacing gaskets, belts, or other vital parts. BMW has designed such an in house tool for their mechanics. Check out the video below released by BMW in 2008.

With this Augmented Reality tool, BMW mechanics are able to provide better quality repair service to their customers while minimizing repair operation cost and time. The mechanic would select a type of repair, and the vehicle model and year on a computer, than all the repair information would be downloaded to the glasses. When the mechanic places the glasses on themselves a step-by-step process is projected over the display (B., 2009). “While BMW suggested last year that Augmented Reality will be made available in the future, it is unclear if it has been already deployed internally” (B., 2009).

“General Motors has been working with several universities to develop a working next-generation heads-up display that turns an ordinary windshield into an augmented reality information dashboard” (Dybwad, 2010). Image driving down the road during low visibility and flipping a switch to turn on the AR windshield to help you drive better. Suddenly the road ahead is outlined with a bright neon line, speed limit signs are outlined and all the vehicles information is displayed. GM is currently developing such technology. “The team hopes to pair the technology with night vision and find a way to combine the work with other sensors in the car to keep costs down” (Grifantini, 2010). Check out the video below to learn more about GM’s development of their AR windshield.

The future of Augmented Reality

What started off as fiction in movies similar to terminator is now more science than fiction. In the movie, the Terminator would set off to kill all enemies. As they would view them through his eyes, a digital layer of data would over lay reality telling him facts about the object or whether to “terminate” or “protect”. Such a concept is actually being researched and developed today the University of Washington. Researchers there have developed the first “Bionic” contact lens. The lens is filled with thousands of nano-circuits that fit in the diameter of the contact lens, basically a computer in which you place in your eye. The lens is designed to aid people with their vision, overlay relative information over reality, provide GPS navigation, and connect to the internet (Jackson, 2008). While much research and development is still needed, such a concept/product could be available in the near future as our technology further evolves.


Augmented Reality is a technology that has stemmed from many years of research and work. There are currently many exciting innovations that are debuting to the public, and much more being researched. While augmented reality is a field that is just coming into its own, augmented reality is already making our daily lives easier, safer, and more fun. As the technology matures, the future will bring augmented reality into more areas of our personal and professional lives.


B., H. (2009, September 3). BMW Augmented Reality. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from BMW Blog:

Dybwad, B. (2010, March 18). GM’s Awesome Augmented Reality Windshield . Retrieved March 23, 2011, from Mashable:

Grifantini, K. (2010, March 17). GM Develops Augmented Reality Windshield. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from Technology Review:

Jackson, J. (2008, January 29). "Bionic" Contact Lens May Create Tiny Personal Displays. Retrieved March 16, 2011, from National Geographic News: (2011, March 16). GPS Accuracy - How Accurate is it? Retrieved March 27, 2011, from

Massachussets Institute of Technology. (2011, March 27). About Vanished. Retrieved March 27, 2011, from Vanished:

Paramount Pictures. (2010). About Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary. Retrieved March 27, 2011, from Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary:

University of Cambrige. (2010). About Popcode. Retrieved March 27, 2011, from Popcode: