Three-dimensional (3D) augmented reality is an application of technology in which cameras and displays are used to create virtual images within an actual scene. One of the most common ways that 3D augmented reality is achieved is with a smart phone that includes software used to function with this technology. This is often used in advertising and by applications, or apps, that are available for phones to provide additional information about something. Three-dimensional augmented reality can also be created through the use of a webcam and a computer, allowing someone to see virtual assets in an image of the area around the computer.
Different uses of 3D augmented reality are often based on ways in which the technology can be applied in a meaningful way. Software is used with this type of system to create a digital image that exists over a real scene captured on camera, often in real time. While this looks interesting, applications for it that are useful and meaningful are not always simple to create, since it requires that a user looks at a screen displaying the virtual and real image.
One common way in which 3D augmented reality can be used is in the creation of advertisements that are more engaging and unique. A magazine cover, for example, can have a code on it that when captured on a camera depicts an animated scene through that camera. Someone can then use a smart phone to view the magazine cover in real time and see advertisements for other products appear to come out of it. This is a powerful form of advertising, but such 3D augmented reality requires that a user understands how to make it work and has a smart phone or other device through which to view it.
More practical applications of 3D augmented reality include the use of special software meant to function with the real world in informative ways. An application or app on a smart phone, for example, can use Global Positioning System (GPS) software in the phone to determine the location of the phone's user. This is then combined with 3D augmented reality software to display information on the phone's screen about that location. A user can point the phone's camera at a certain area of the city, look at the screen, and see virtual indicators of local restaurants or other attractions on it.
It is also possible for 3D augmented reality to function with a computer and a webcam connected to it. Companies have facilitated online shopping through software that can present digital versions of clothing on people as a virtual dressing room. This allows a computer user to see how clothes might look before ordering them online, within the comfort of his or her own home.