AR in action Part II: Medicine, Marketing & Media

Following up on AR in Action Part I his post offers a review of the the uses in AR in the fields of Medicine, Marketing and Media.


A possible use of AR in the field 0f Medicine would be combining 3-D datasets of a patient with a real time view to assist doctors excecuting minimally-invasive surgery; a type of surgery that uses no or only very small inscisions making it difficult for doctors to see inside the patient. AR would solve this problem of visualisation by providing a 3-D internal view of the patients based on non-invasice sensors such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT). Recently, scientists have refined this technique for use in minimally invasive cardiac surgery (Dohi, Sakuma & Liao. (2008).

Most medical applications concern image guided surgery for example for general visualisation assistance such as targeting for an inscision and needle injection, or displaying instructions to medical students at work with a patient eliminating the need to glance aside in a manual, or viewing a fetus through HMD (Azuma, 1997; State, et al. 1994).


Here is on of the most viewed video’s that explains augmented reality.

One might assume that such a helpful demonstration would come from either an educational institution or a AR technology developer. However, this shot clip posted by plugintothesmartgrid is actually provided by General Electric, as a means to lure those curious about augmented reality to their website on renewable energy.

Indeed, companies have caught on to the hype and flashy, so called ARM (Augmented Reality Marketing), is popping into the real-world like algae on the Baltic Sea. Whereas AR was originally explored by military, education and scientific institutions, businesses’ marketing departments are the ones to deliver AR uses fit for mass consumption.  Automobile companies have been especially busy: MINI marked the back of a magazine that, when held in from on a webcame, will display a 3D Mini.

Adidas, also had to be one of the first, placing a market on the front of their shoe, footware is know also used as a joystick. For an overview of these and other companies using ARM, check out this blog entry of webdistortion, an IT company that uses its prevalent high involvement in the theme to draw those interested in ARM, in turn, to their website.

Adidas Augmented Relity World pops out of sneaker

On the topic of Marketing, a fellow blogger has noted that despite the hype of AR for consumer use, most companies’ applications lack an element of interaction deemed necessary to hold the consumers attention. The space3dsolutions blog puts it this way: “there are a lot of fairies turning on the top of fingertips”. Both name Total Immersion as a positive example because of their creation of holograms that the user can manipulate and interact with. Space3dsolutions explains that there are many technical problems related to the ability to track moving objects with the current quality of most webcams. The first author claims that gaming and multi-media will be the fields in which AR will be most attractive from a marketing perspective, because they can answer to the demand for interactive uses of AR that will grow steadily as the novelty of the technology wears off. However, a lot of hard work on perfectionizing the details will be necessary before the virtual imaging supplements the real-world environment smoothly enough to offer high-quality consumer products that remain entertaining in the long run.


Other uses of AR that quickly gained attention are Esquire Magazine’s cover with an AR Marker. Throughout the magazine, multiple AR entries can be found. All are interactive, and can be controlled by the reader by changing the angle of the marker relative to the camera, or holding it up at a different point in time.

Where most uses I have mentioned entail the virtual entering the previously virgin real-world environment, there is one sector that moves in the opposite direction: gaming. In the Wearable Computer Lab at the School of Computer and Information Science at the University of South Australia researchers, under- and postgraduate students have are developing ARQuake. If you prefer spaying virtual paint over virtual bullets, TagDis is your game. With this AR app, you can leave a trace of your own virtual graffiti tags wherever you go. Tagdis treads slightly into the real of social gaming, as others may tag the same location by getting more views, kick you off your throne of king and owner of the territory. Combining motion capture technology, Flash and social networking,   Cannonballz from Zugara offers users the opportunity to collaboratively procrastinate by throwing cannonballs at their Facebook friends. The video gives a straightforward demo.

Soon, busy parents trying to get their children away from gaming and back to books, but lacking the time for a good bedtime story, may turn to the use of augmented reality for children’s books for support. That is, if they don’t mind the Magic Books reading themselves to their child. Probably, the next generation kids will be far from secretly reading books or playing games alone under their blankets. They might be chasing the monsters out from under their beds. Monsters they really do see in this case. All they need is a phone or a pair of goggles. Unlikely? Find out more about Mobile AR.


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