History leading to Augmented Reality

An article written by Tony Liao and Lee Humphreys defines “Augmented Reality (AR) as a technology that mixes the real environment with the virtual, is registered in three-dimensions, real-time, and interactive” (Azuma, 1997)(Liao and Humphreys 1).The history of mobile technologies explaining the appeal of Augmented Reality technology begins in Ancient Egypt where Papyrus is invented as an alternative to stone tablet inscription allowing written to media become portable(Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2007).
(Farman 11). In 1440 the invention of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press, makes mass printing and distributing written media, for things like Location-based services (maps and guide books) possible. printing-press-invention-2In the early 1800’s about a decade or more after the Chappe brothers create the first working mechanical telegraph (Solymar 22-31) Europeans develop a common standard that carries the capability to communicate throughout a whole continent, Global System for Mobile (GSM) Communication (Haddon, 1997) (Ling & Donner). By the late 1860s De Certeau (1984) spatial practice theories on two the types of way people consciously and unconsciously “alter, adapt, and appropriate objects and space for their own ends”( Liao and Humphreys 7) is demonstrated when the telegraph is both commercialized and also expanded into Britain submarine channels (Hubbard 52-3) (Hedrick 11-49) (Goggin). 8 years after American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) is funded by Bell and partners (1885), Telefon Hirmando provides daily transmissions that programs different sorts of news and announcements, increasing telephone subscribers (Goggin 23). Later in 1910, sixteen years after patenting his wireless telegraph (Baker 1970; Huurdemen 2003:207) (Goggin 24), Marconi is able to send messages from the UK to Buenos Aires (Ling & Donner, 34). Soon after in 1920 the development for private use telephone is introduced and about twenty years following, in 1945, it is offered as the first commercial mobile radio telephone allowing calls from fixed phones to mobile users (Goggin 25).

Engineers come up with the “cellular idea,” in 1947, permitting true mobility with radio telephones without interference from other callers (Farman 16). The development of the cellular system is then introduced as a payphone on Amtrak between NYC and Washington DC (Ling & Donner) in 1969. Four years from that year in 1973 Motorola CEO, Martin Cooper makes the ‘world’s first’ call on a portable hand-held cell phone (Goggin 29) and patents the technology. By way of 1979 the nationwide cellular system is launched but it is not until the late 1980’s a time that cellular systems are being built in the Baltimore/ Washington, D.C area leading cell phones to become more common and of high interest to the public (Farman, p. 17). The 1990’s extended features of the cell phone such multimedia (exchanges through text, image, sound, and touch) allows for a widespread adoption of text messaging as well as email (Goggin). Finally by early 2000s,we are able to change how we  “spatially interact” with things and others, due to access to internet, voice and text communication, location-awareness, and data retrieval from the internet ”  (Museum of London Street Museum App [2010]).(Farman, pg. 19).
Today through mobile handheld devices AR browsers are made available. (Liao and Humphreys 16) Certain Mobile AR applications, have simply advanced features to services that are already provided in varies mobile devices. Some of these features include, providing users points of interest, annotations/ graphics (created by users) based on the GPS location, and orientation on it’s built-in camera, compass, and accelerometer ( Liao and Humphreys 2). The article provides an example, Monocle; an AR version of Yelp,  displays information about places on top of the actual store through the mobile screen phone when held up (Liao and Humphreys 4) rather than a description on apps mobile page. According to Liao and Humphrey people have always often times used physical artifacts to navigate through space and reminds us that mobile representations become tools for consuming places (Urry, 1995). Similar to maps and guide books today’s mobile AR applications are considered a particular “subset of Location-based services (LBS) through its use of location of people, places, and things” (Wang and Canny, 2006) (Liao and Humphreys 3).

As seen in the brief summary history shows that the progression of mobile media has already provided a map for the development of augmented reality. Although it has not been until the increase use of smartphones that mobile AR applications have become publicly available, Augmented reality technology is becoming widespread and utilized by many. Along with the betterment of mobile services (that already have been provided in mobile devices), the advancement of AR technology allows users to perform exercises directly; producing augmented space, layering in physical locations, and augmenting what is not part of “official control” (Crang and Graham, 2007) ( Liao and Humphreys 16).

Despite the accessibility and efficiency of AR technologies, just as seen with past technologies this growing industry can be possibly comprised by powerful authorities (who the abilities have to construct, design, create rules, control movement, and disciplines of space) attempts to distinguish their own place and try censor certain production(Liao and Humphreys 15). I believe that augmented reality serves a mobile medium purpose but just as previous media technologies there is a risk of by being manipulated by advertising or having people who want fence themselves off from reality itself.

Work Cited


One thought on “History leading to Augmented Reality

  1. From personal experience, I completely agree with your point that people use distinctive landmarks to navigate through a space. I do, however, believe that it would be harder to navigate through a device as opposed to with your bare eyes. Having to look through a device would limit the areas you can look at, at all times. I believe it would take significantly longer to travel with augmented realities than without it. I would also like to raise the question do you think cell phones and augmented reality will one day be synonymous with each other?

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