History of Augmented Reality

The term augmented reality (AR) is believed to have been coined by Tom Caudell, a Boeing researcher in about 1992. Although AR got its official name in the 90s, its history goes back quite far. Depending upon who you ask, some see augmented reality's beginnings as long ago as the 1930s[http://augmentedrealitywiki.com/History_of_Augmented_Reality] when computers were being introduced.

Many others, however, trace origins to the 1960s and 1970s when major companies used early versions of augmented reality for training and visualization. In the late 50s a cinematographer,'Morton Helig, created a simulator called Sensorama that produced visual, sounds, vibration and smell, while it wasn't until 1966 that the first head mounted display allowing the user to interact with surroundings was invented by Ivan Sutherland.

More active interaction with virtual objects came in 1975 when Myron Krueger created Videoplace. Rather than using goggles, Videoplace used projectors, cameras and on screen silhouettes to create a more interactive environment.

As early as 1980, Steve Mann, a professor at the University of Toronto was wearing computers. From 1994-1996, Mann wore a mobile camera with a visual display fixed to his head. The camera connected to his computer and allowed visitors to his website to see what he was seeing. Messages that were sent to him appeared on the display he wore. Called by some "the human cyborg", Mann was the subject of the film Cyberman in 2001.[http://wearcam.org/cyberman.htm]

In 1989, the term Virtual Reality was coined by Jaron Lanier. Usually the term Virtual Reality refers to immersive environments created by applications with visual and 3D effects. When the term Augmented Reality was used by Tom Caudell in 1992, Caudell was creating applications to help train workers at Boeing. In the following years many researchers have worked to create programs that enable augmented reality. Some of the companies involved in developments are ARToolKit, ARQuake, Layar Browser, Webitude, Total Immersion, Google and Android Phone. With more focus today on small mobile devices, augmented reality development is booming especially in the areas of marketing and entertainment.

Watch a light-hearted three minute video by Rocket Boom discussing the developments in AR since 1992

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