Augmented Reality vs. Artificial Intelligence

Original article was published by on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Googling “Artificial Intelligence Augmented Reality” will offer a remarkable amount of results, starting at people conflating the terms or aiming to combine the powers of both.

Now let’s break down the confusion here — Augmented Reality is not Artificial Intelligence.

Nor do they depend on each other or originate from each other. They are innately different terms entirely. How did it lead to this confusion? You may ask; well for one very basic reason, the abbreviations do look quite similar — AI & AR? It’s an understandable confusion. They both appear to move within the realm of modern tech, digitalization, and technological development. From a casual perspective of someone who has no high stakes in either, they sure are similar enough. They both carry a bit of that magical connotation of a seemingly futuristic reality — a concept that can be controversial, either beloved or strongly disliked. To top these off, there is a fair amount of projects that combine both, so the association tops off the confusion, muddying the waters surrounding these terms.

But what do they actually mean? What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality describes an edited concept of reality that has been modified or extended by elements from a computer-generated world. The reality you perceive can be augmented visually, auditory, and maybe even haptically, using AR tech. The computer-generated processing of our reality can either add to it or take away from it.

It’s a term that is clearly related to Virtual Reality (VR), except instead of allowing you to immerse yourself into a fictional digital reality, it adjusts and edits — augments — our current reality using glasses, or just your mobile phone.

If you would like a deeper dive into what AR is and how it works, check out our in-depth article about its history and more.

Now onto Artificial Intelligence — what exactly is AI?

For starters, AI has been around for a tad bit longer than AR. The term was coined solid 35 years before AR, in 1956 by John McCarthy. The concept has developed to be mainly called machine or deep learning.

It’s a technology that is based on algorithms that typically work with rewards and punishments. Through those rewards and punishments, Artificial Intelligence is capable of evolving and developing on its own, being able to learn and improve its own doing.

The very first documented idea of AI however, was all the way back in 1637 (yes, that’s the 17th century!). The philosopher Rene Descartes proclaimed that there was a solid possibility that machines would one day think, make decisions, and adapt to different situations on their own.

Artificial Intelligence has advanced very far since then. Especially with the birth of the internet, it’s been pushed more and more — going as far as to be able to consistently win against people in Jeopardy! and chess. According to tests done in 2015, machines can now “see” and recognize objects better, faster, and more accurately than humans. Knowing that it was clear that self-driving cars would happen sooner than later, and mere three years later they hit the roads. With Alexa and Siri gracing a good amount of households with their presence, AI has truly developed to be an ever-present force to be reckoned with.

A massive upside of AI is the speed at which it can learn and develop, being able to be purely calculating without ever being overwhelmed offers a clear edge compared to how humans work. Some suspect that that is also what carries the dangers of Artificial Intelligence — the possibilities are virtually endless and that as a concept is quite terrifying. We all have seen the dystopian Sci-Fi movies featuring a destructive and murderous AI, however it’s clear that some of those are more fiction than science.

Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence combined

Now that we’ve torn them apart, let’s actually bring AI and AR together in a productive and useful manner. In a way, that makes sense and makes the best of both worlds (I am trying my best to refrain myself from referencing a Disney Song).

For one, you can use Artificial Intelligence to improve and enhance what Augmented Reality can do. We’re digitizing digitalization here!

Augmented Reality, more often than not, strongly relies on 3D modeling, and more often than not, that is very tedious work. Luckily for that, Artificial Intelligence has progressed enough to manage many of the requirements necessary for high-quality AR experiences. Deep neural networks are capable of detecting and analyzing different planes, detecting the precise positioning of objects in real-time, and creating an immersive experience by offering automatic occlusion to the Augmented Reality tech it works with.

AR combined with AI can lead to some unbelievable experiences. Aside from games and such, AI can push AR far — giving customers X-Ray vision to see internal construction of products, reaching hidden details, and showing how much of said product is left in stock.

Did we manage to pique your curiosity on AI? Do you want to learn more about what you can do with it and some popular use cases of it? Well lucky for you, we will be talking about AI for quite a few weeks.