What Is Augmented Reality?

augmented-reality Credit: GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

Technology known as augmented reality (AR) is designed to add information (augmentation) to a view of a real-world environment. It is this real-world environment that sets augmented reality apart from similar technology such as virtual reality. Rather than creating a new world, AR operates within the existing world.

Augmented reality can add information to a person's view through an AR-equipped piece of technology such as a window, smartphone or eyepiece. This information may include details such as the name and rating of a restaurant a person is looking at, or the position of constellations in the sky.

Google Glass may be among the most famous examples of products that use augmented reality. Though Glass is capable of doing other things, such as recording video or taking photos from the wearer's point of view, it can also project images into the wearer's line of sight.

While there was initially some public backlash to Glass, some sources believe that AR will one day be a part of everyday life for many people, who may be able to use the technology in their personal and professional lives. The technology has possible applications in everything from education to entertainment, design, construction and healthcare.