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Hot skill: Augmented Reality Development

Hot skill: Augmented Reality Development

Put the headset away. Everybody has got to stop confusing AR and VR. This article is about AR (Augmented Reality), not about people stumbling into things while locked away inside a virtual world via their sci-fi goggles.

In VR – the one with the big goggles – you can’t see any actual reality; it’s all generated for you by graphics processors. Hence ‘Virtual’. In AR though, you can see what’s around you in the real world but it is ‘augmented’ with computer-generated objects, sounds, and sometimes touch and even smells, too. They are meant to be perceived as natural parts of the environment; they appear to be ‘there’. These digital additions to reality can be manipulated and processed in all the ways you would expect from computer-generated imagery.

Now we’ve cleared up the definition and put the goggles back in their box until playtime, it’s time to point out that AR is nothing new. For decades we have been watching sports events while seeing the scores superimposed over the action. That’s technically AR. It’s just that the sector has exploded recently with new SDKs, APIs and apps – software that turns AR into a potentially ubiquitous and much richer commodity.

This makes now a good time to be an AR developer. Due to its out-and-about nature, most AR apps are mobile (think Pokémon Go). Learning how to approach popular AR tools from the point of view of a developer or entrepreneur shouldn’t take too long, as there’s not much hard coding involved in producing a mobile AR app. But it’s good to get your AR ducks in a row and also to see examples of well-conceived and executed apps. Some project skills wouldn’t go amiss, either, like research and planning, thinking about what adds value to an AR app and how to approach ergonomics and various device sizes.

All this can be found in the introductory course AR For Mobile Developers on Lynda.com, presented by experienced developer Emmanuel Henri.

Microsoft’s HoloLens is an AR device which does resemble a VR headset, but with a transparent visor through which to see the user’s actual surroundings. Like an advanced version of the HUDs fighter pilots have been using for years, the HoloLens projects AR onto the real world in some impressive ways. Its ability to generate convincing animated holograms that are fully integrated into the environment has put the device in another category: Mixed Reality (like AR on steroids.) The HoloLens is finding a fair amount of adoption, so knowing how to develop apps for it is another hot career opportunity. Lynda.com also has a good intro course for those wanting to get to grips with HoloLens app development.  

AR is the next big frontier for app developers. Getting on board now would be a smart career move for mobile devs, entrepreneurs and marketers.