What is Augmented Reality?

We’ve all hear the word thrown around, augmented reality. Similar to, but not to be confused with virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) combines a direct view of the real environment with a computer generated input. This is different from VR in that the environment imposed in VR is entirely digital, there is no direct view of the real environment. Both AR and VR have been in development for some time, however AR took off in a big, mainstream way with the release of Pokemon GO. This was likely one of the first times that the general public interacted with a device utilizing AR.


Man interacting with an entirely digital VR environment.


In Pokemon GO, the game uses your Android or iPhone camera to capture a live view of your environment. Pokemon, the computer generated input, are then superimposed on the screen. This combination of “real and digital”, although seemingly simple, is what constitutes AR.


Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, although exact details are hard to come by at this time, has been announced to utilize the same AR technology driving Pokemon GO. We can speculate that users will navigate a virtual wizarding world using the phone’s GPS, will be able to choose their own house (slytherin, hufflepuff, ravenclaw, or gryffindor), and will be able to interact with the wizarding virtual environment using the phone’s camera and AR.


Outside of gaming, augmented reality has many practical applications and the technology is only in its infancy. Snapchat has unveiled new filters that superimpose the users bitmoji avatar within their environment. The Ikea place app allows you to use your phone camera and the app’s AR capabilities to simulate what Ikea’s furniture will look like in your home before you buy it!


Ikea place app AR at work!


While we do not know the exact mechanism that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will use to incorporate AR in to the game, we know it will be there. Niantic is part of the production team putting out Wizards Unite, and they have had plenty of time to learn from their mistakes and perfect the AR process following their Pokemon GO release. With the cult following that Harry Potter has put together and the experience of Niantic in this field, Wizards Unite is certainly an AR game that we cannot wait to get our hands on in 2018!