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Augmented Reality Is All The Rage

What’s realer than being real? Augmented reality! It seems like we’ve been talking about virtual reality for years, but what do you know about its hybrid cousin, AR? Augmented reality is a technology that analyzes video of the physical world and adds digital components in real-time. If you’ve used Snapchat (or Instagram) or played Pokémon Go, you are probably already familiar with this tech.

But catching Pokémon and adding puppy ears to our selfies only scratches the surface of what augmented reality can do. There are already a lot of cool applications using AR, and even more mind-bending uses on the horizon. First, let’s take a look at apps you can use today.

Star Maps

Here’s the surprising thing: we’ve actually been using AR for years. Apps like Star Walk 2 and Sky Map have helped us see the skies differently since the early days of the smartphone. And they’re just as popular (and fun) today as they were 10 years ago. This is a thin AR experience, but astronomy apps may soon be much more engaging.

Make Your Mark On The World

Snapchat recently rolled out what it calls “world lenses,” that inject digital objects or characters into the camera’s view. The new Mirage app, however, takes this idea of digital augmentation to another level. With mirage, you can add digital stickers, text, emojis, and more to objects and places in the real world for others to find and interact with. Users find new mirages nearby and upvote those they like.

Real-World, Real-Time Text Translation

The Google Translate app has been helping us understand and communicate with each other for years. But did you know you can use it without typing a word? The feature is called World Lens, and it’s super helpful when you visit another country or an authentic Mexican restaurant. (Bonus: Google’s demo video is really fun).

Coloring Books Come To Life

AR is for the kiddos, too! With apps like Crayola’s Color ALIVE, kids (and children-at-heart) will see their creations leap off the page just as they’ve been colored.

Measure Everything

How many times have you found yourself wishing you had a ruler handy? Those days are over thanks to apps like AR Measure.

Your Digital Interior Design Assistant

If you’re in the market for new furniture and a new look in your home, augmented reality apps are a huge help. They’ll help you measure rooms, try out new furniture arrangements, and even place orders when you find the right pieces. You may wonder what you ever did without them.

Become An Artist

Have you always wanted to learn to draw but could never quite make the jump from tracing paper? SketchAR “projects” an image onto the drawing surface, which serves as your guide without making you feel like you’re cheating!

AR Ideas That Aren’t Quite Reality

One vision of augmented reality many of us long to see is something we’ve seen in the movies: a mid-air digital interface à la Minority Report. Finally, a design student is bringing this awesome idea closer to reality. Devices like Google Glass are really exciting in theory, but really awkward to use in public. This “magic” AR ring, called Scroll, could be the solution.

augmented reality Scroll ring

This next one may actually blow your mind. Watch this, and then come back; we’ll wait. OK, did you notice the augmented reality elements? No? Here’s a hint. How cool is that! We can’t wait until we can start watching sports highlights play out on our living room floor.

Finally, what’s better than watching a game? Playing one! This demo of a first-person-shooter (FPS) version of the arcade classic Space Invaders hits us on a lot of levels. Once someone releases an app involves barrel-hopping or running for ghosts, well…

Futurama meme

Those are some of our favorite augmented reality apps – which are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!