How Are Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Related?

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Did you know augmented reality and artificial intelligence significantly shape our world today? These technologies have become so integrated into our lives that we might not even notice we’re already using them!

Either we altogether do away with thinking about them or are perplexed by how they cooperate. We wonder whether augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are related, even thinking the former is a subcategory of the latter. So in this article, we give you a thorough explanation tackling everything you need to know about the relationship between AR and AI.

Image credits to Pixabay

Defining Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence

The most familiar example of augmented reality is the experience you get from viewing your environment through your phone’s camera. This experience involves the illusion of 3D digital art coexisting with you in the real world in real-time. So when you click on a social media application’s filters or paint your room’s walls through an app and your phone’s camera, you are actually using augmented reality technology.

Now, for an application to know where to overlay 3D art as precisely as possible, programmers need to feed it algorithms and data so it can analyze information and embed the 3D objects in their intended place. This is called machine learning, a category under artificial intelligence. 

Artificial Intelligence is the field concerned with developing techniques to allow computers to act in a manner that seems like an intelligent organism, such as a human would. 

— William Raynor —

In AI researcher William Raynor’s book, the entry on artificial intelligence continues to say AI may also attempt to exhibit “a fully conscious, intelligent computer-based entity.” 

This is true to an extent, as we can instruct or communicate with devices like Google Home because of AI. But artificial intelligence and machine learning experts John Mueller and Luca Massaron argue this type of technology cannot “present any form of self-awareness”. It can only simulate consciousness by performing the data it analyzes, which is helpful to keep in mind when thinking of AI in conjunction with AR.

Essentially, augmented reality is the technology that makes us believe 3D art pieces are a part of our surroundings. Similarly, artificial intelligence makes us believe computers are highly intelligent entities capable of independent thought. Both of them ask the user to suspend disbelief.

How Are Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Related?

One of the most common queries you will find on Google includes whether augmented reality is a part of artificial intelligence. And the answer is simply this — augmented reality and artificial intelligence are vastly different technologies

Augmented reality overlays 3D (and sometimes 2D) graphics on the screen as a camera and its sensors are surveying a specific environment. Artificial intelligence, or more accurately machine learning, involves giving computers data and instructions to identify patterns in the data and perform commands according to these instructions.

This means the two are separate technologies, completely unrelated to each other. However, their combination is one of the key factors that make a user’s experience of an application exciting and enjoyable.

Learn more about augmented reality in our blog post “Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality: Their Similarities and Differences

Image credits to Pixabay

Combining Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence

For these technologies to fuse together, developers often work with software development kits (SDKs) geared for augmented reality development.

According to online technology resource WhatIs.com, SDKs are “a set of software tools and programs provided by hardware and software vendors that developers can use to build applications for specific platforms.” In the case of augmented reality and artificial intelligence, the specific function of SDKs is to give 3D or 2D graphics the capacity to be used in the way AR is intended.

Several SDKs industry professionals develop on include Vuforia, ARKit, ARCore, Onirix, and EasyAR Sense.

A trailblazing SDK for augmented reality and even virtual reality development, Vuforia allows developers to create software applications that give users “AR experiences that realistically interact with objects and the environment,” according to its website. It supports both iOS and Android mobile operating systems and even Universal Windows Platform or UWP applications.

ARKit is Apple’s augmented reality framework containing features for motion tracking, scene processing, and everything in between. ARCore, the augmented reality SDK by Google, provides similar features and has what it calls “environmental understanding” where cameras can easily sense surfaces.

Onirix offers an open-source, multi-platform AR SDK with an intuitive environment that does not require “prior AR knowledge”, its website says. It’s a great tool for beginners who are still exploring the limits and capacities of augmented reality technology. 

EasyAR Sense, formerly EasyAR SDK, is a standalone tool for augmented reality development; however, it has a plugin you can use for Unity. According to its website, EasyAR allows developers to generate point clouds or a mesh of an environment in real-time, making your application’s placement of 3D art more accurate.

The goal of these SDKs is to hasten the development process of an augmented reality-based application.

Image credits to Pixabay

Several Applications of Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence

Thanks to SDKs, seasoned developers, and diversely talented artists, several industries have begun integrating augmented reality and artificial intelligence into their work. Three of the top industries already putting these technologies into good use are gaming, retail, manufacturing, education, and medicine.

Gaming

You don’t need to search far and wide to find a well-executed example of an augmented reality- and artificial intelligence-powered game. Because in 2016, Pokémon Go was a phenomenal hit. 

In Pokémon Go, players travel to real-world places to gather Pokémon creatures. In the real world, players can also find Gyms to train their collection of Pokémon and battle with other characters. This is a manifestation of what you can accomplish by integrating augmented reality technology into games. Both the physical environment and virtual environment meaningfully contribute to a user’s experience of a game.

Another example of an AR- and AI-powered mobile game is Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs (2019). Players get to feel what it is like to have the Angry Birds’ world in their room, kitchen, or on any area with a flat surface. While the mechanics are fairly similar to its original 2D counterpart, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs can give players a feeling reminiscent of early and mid-2000s plastic toys you can manipulate and interact with intuitively. And it is all because of its expertly designed AR graphics and wonderful execution of AI-powered interactivity.

Retail

Augmented reality and artificial intelligence make a buyer’s experience more rewarding and informed. An article in the AI research company Emerj detailed several case studies showing how the two technologies work hand in hand to better a consumer’s decision-making process. 

For example, Swedish furniture brand IKEA built a mobile application on the ARKit called IKEA Place. It gives its customers a means to visualize their space with their furniture before purchase. It can measure a room’s dimensions and correctly gauge how a piece of furniture fits within its space. Another furniture brand Wayfair uses a similar piece of technology. An interested buyer can move Wayfair’s furniture around once they’ve taken a photo of their room.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is a perfect example of how augmented reality and artificial intelligence is put into great use. But unlike most industries, its impact does not directly affect customers. Instead, it assists in a product’s production phase. 

How does the combination of AR and AI achieve this effect? In his book, AR and VR scholar Steve Aukstakalnis says augmented reality technology aids manufacturers in visualizing the data needed for a product’s design. And even before production. This results in “fewer design errors”, potentially eliminating the need for physical prototypes.

Education

We have emphasized the relevant applications of virtual reality and augmented reality, paired with 3D digital art, in education. In previous blog posts, we mention several studies that have repeatedly shown how 3D graphics make learning easier and more effective, even for medical students.

According to the online journal Unbound, universities such as Duke University and the Western University of Health Sciences are putting these technologies into practice. The former allows students to explore significant historical sites and the latter uses. These are more geared toward virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and in the field of education, this pairing tends to be more common. However, a few institutions do make use of augmented reality and AI for teaching. 

An article in an online magazine called EdTech notes a professor at Eastern Michigan University uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence to “help students grasp concepts in Earth science”. How is artificial intelligence part of this? The students are not passively viewing the augmented reality art — they get to manipulate it. According to the article, these students can create various landforms and bodies of water. With this level of engagement, learning becomes an interactive and positive experience. People can appreciate new information better and understand it in a meaningful way.

Medicine

In the field of medicine, there are several way people may employ augmented reality technology:

  • Assisting surgeons in spinal surgeries
  • Helping people with vision impairment recognize nearby objects better
  • Giving patients the information they need for their treatment

These examples, which come from the book Emerging Technologies for Health and Medicine, exemplify how diverse AR’s applications are. In fact, they are so diverse that augmented reality technology can even be employed by dentists.

In the same book, researchers and authors Anand Nayyar and Gia Nhu Nguyen say AR aids dental surgeons through various systems. These AR systems can guide a dental surgeon during an operation by “marking surgical incisions” using 3D images and providing them with the patient’s anatomical data. With AR technology, surgeons can even prepare for a procedure before it happens, consequently reducing intraoperative risks.

In Summary

Augmented reality technology overlays our surroundings with 3D art. Artificial intelligence — or more specifically, machine learning — is a type of technology that seeks out patterns in data so it can correctly analyze them and perform the correct functions. 

AR and AI work hand in hand through software development kits (SDKs), which help developers provide 3D graphics overlaid on our screen with the capacity to be manipulated or interacted with by the user.

Some of the industries which benefit from marrying augmented reality and artificial intelligence are:

  • Gaming
  • Retail
  • Manufacturing
  • Education
  • Medicine

Are you looking for augmented reality artists who can create 3D graphics for your AR application? Then, you’re in luck! You’ve landed on the right page. 

NarraSoft offers augmented reality art development and 3D digital art creation services. Our artists are as passionate as they are skilled. And we are more than happy to help you build an outstanding digital project.

Send us an email at sales@narrasoft.com or message our contact form or chat box. We will give you a free consultation, so contact us today!

Justine Jordan

Justine Jordan is a content and copy writer. She has written for a popular business daily in the Philippines and for various startups across the globe before transitioning to work for NarraSoft. She graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a bachelor's degree in journalism.