International Journal of Internet and Distributed Systems, 2013, 1, 25-34
Published Online November 2013 (
Open Access IJIDS
Rise of Augmented Reality: Current and Future
Application Areas
Abrar Omar Alkhamisi, Muhammad Mostafa Monowar
Department of Information Technology, Faculty of Computing and Information Technology,
King AbdulAziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Received August 30, 2013; revised October 4, 2013; accepted October 12, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Abrar Omar Alkhamisi, Muhammad Mostafa Monowar. This is an open access article distributed under the Crea-
tive Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
The massive technological advancements around the world have created significant challenging competition among
companies where each of the companies tries to attract the customers using different techniques. One of the recent tech-
niques is Augmented Reality (AR). The AR is a new technology which is capable of presenting possibilities that are
difficult for other technologies to offer and meet. Nowadays, numerous augmented reality applications have been used
in the industry of different kinds an d disseminated all over the world. AR will really alter the way individuals view the
world. The AR is yet in its initial phases of research and development at different colleges and high-tech institutes.
Throughout the last years, AR apps became transportable and generally available on various devices. Besides, AR be-
gins to occupy its place in our audio-visual media and to be used in various fields in our life in tangible and exciting
ways such as news, sports and is used in many domains in our life such as electronic commerce, promotion, design, and
business. In addition, AR is used to facilitate the learning whereas it enables students to access location-specific infor-
mation provided through various sources. Such growth and spread of AR applications pushes organizations to compete
one another, and every one of them exerts its best to gain the customers. This paper provides a comprehensive study of
AR including its history, architecture, applications, current challenges and future trends.
Keywords: Augmented Reality; Virtual Reality; Augmented Reality Browser; Mobile Augmented Reality
1. Introduction
The technological advances have a direct effect on our
life and on our behavioral manner. The Augmented real-
ity moves from the industrial niches to mass technology
[1]. It can be defined as an emergent form of practice,
through which the real world is improved through com-
puter generated content that is connected to particular
places and/or events. In other words, AR permits the
digital content to be effortlessly superimposed and inter-
mingled into our insights and conception of the real
world [2].
Augmented reality can be described as on e of the tech -
nologies that can develop a “next generation, reality-
based interface” [3]. Also, it is distinguished by promo-
tion from just being in test centers around the world to
being used in different fields and consumer markets.
Nowadays with the emergence and diffusion of the smart
phones and AR browsers, we begin to accept this differ-
ent and exciting type of human-computer communication
[3]. In spite of the fact that AR has gained much more re-
search interest and attention recently, various meanings
are attached to the term AR by researchers. Besides, AR
could be developed through using and involving different
inventive technologies (for instance, body-borne com-
puters, mobile phones, and immersive technologies) [4].
During the last years, the AR applications have turned
out to be transportable and broadly accessible on mobile
phones. Also, the AR has become one of our audio-visual
media (for instance, news, means of entertainment and
sports). In addition, it is being used recently in many
fields such as electronic commerce, tourism and pro-
motion. Besides, it has turned to be a very significant
part of the Virtual Reality (VR) domain. The AR enjoys
clear advantages in comparison to the traditional VR.
One of the key advantages gained by AR is having a bet-
ter sense and interaction of reality whereas it lays em-
phasis on the organic integration of virtual environment
and the real world [1].
In this article we present a survey of the state of the art
in AR. Our aim is to provide a better understanding of
the current and future application areas in this emerging
field. The remainder of this paper is organized as follows:
Section 2 presents an overview of AR, Section 3 re-
views AR throughout history, Section 4 describes the
architecture of AR system, Section 5 discusses about
different applications of AR, Section 6 summarizes the
current challenges of AR, Section 7 discusses the future
trends of AR, and finally Section 8 concludes the paper.
2. Augmented Reality: An Overview
Augmented reality (AR) can be defined as able to deal
with the new information immediately direct or indirect
therefore influence the physical real-world environment
has been enhanced/augmented were by adding virtual
computer-generated information to it [5,6].
Also, the AR is defined by Azuma in 1997 [7]. He in-
dicates that the AR is not only restricted to the technical
hardware whereas it brings the real and virtual items to-
gether in a real environment. In addition, it records the
real and virtual objects together and then runs jointly in
real time in three dimensions.
Milgram and Kishino [2] defined the continuum of
reality-virtuality where AR is considered a portion of th e
overall subject area of mixed reality. Both virtual envi-
ronments and augmented virtuality where the real items
are sub-joined to the virtual ones can substitute the adja-
cent environment by a virtual one. On the contrary, the
local virtuality is submitter by the augmented reality .As
shown in Figure 1.
The goal of the AR is to make the life of the user eas-
ier through providing the virtual information to his adja-
cent environment as well as to any indirect view of the
real-world environment like the live-video stream. An-
other goal of AR is to develop the user’s insigh t into and
communications with the real world. The virtual reality
or the virtual environment as named by Milgram engages
users totally in an artificial world without seeing the real
one. On the other hand, the augmented reality boosts the
sense of reality through laying virtu al items over the real
world in real time. AR not only adds items in real word
but also represents useful digital information in real
world [5,6].
3. Augmented Reality throughout History
The term augmented reality appears for the first time in
Mixed Reality (MR)
Reality (AR) Augmented
Virtuality (AV) Virtual
Figure 1. Reality-virtuality consecutive [5].
1950s when Morton Heilig, a motion-picture cameraman,
believed that cinema as an art should be capable of
drawing the watcher into the on screen activity. In 1962,
Heilig developed a model of his idea, that he termed in
1955 as “The Cinema of the Future”, known as Sen-
sorama, which exist before digital computing [5]. Then,
Ivan Sutherland devised the head mounted in 1966 [2,5].
While in 1968, he developed a working prototype of the
first AR system [2]. After that Myron Krueger in 1975
established an artificial reality laboratory called video
place. It is an area which enables users to easily deal with
the virtual elements for the first time [5,6].
At the beginning of 1990s, AR became a field of study.
In 1997, Ronald Azuma conducted the first survey in AR
whereas he introduced a broadly accepted definition of
AR. He defined it as assembling real and virtual envi-
ronment together while bo th of them is being recorded in
3D and interactive in real time [5,7]. In 2000, Bruce
Thomas invented the first mobile AR game and dis-
played it during the International Symposium on Wear-
able Computers [5,6]. In 2007 new medical applications
were developed. After that, more AR applications are
designed particularly with mobile app lications e.g. Wiki-
tude AR Travel Guide was created in 2008 [5]. In 2008,
Gartner Inc. expected that AR would be among the first
10 troublemaking technologies in the period from 2008
to 2012 [2]. In addition, it is clear that the number of AR
accessible apps have been augmented suddenly and ex-
panded to include not only the location-based search
apps but also social networking, games, instructive, life-
style and individual healthcare apps [7]. Figure 2 shows
the evolution of augmented reality throughout the his-
4. Architecture of the Augmented Reality
The four tasks carried out by the AR system are: scene
capture; scene identification for choosing the accurate in-
formation for boosting it; scene processing an d v isualiza-
tion of the augmented scene [8,9]. These tasks are de-
scribed in details as follows:
4.1. Scene Capture
Generally, the devices used in scene capture are physical
components which recognize the reality which should be
boosted. There are two types of scene capture devices:
Video-through devices: Such devices capture the rea-
lity in a different way than the other devices used for
visualizing the augmented reality (for instance, video
cameras, and smart phones) [9].
See-through devices: Such d evices capture reality an d
give a picture of it with the augmented information
(for instance, head mounted displays) [9].
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Bruce Thomas First
Outdoor Mobile
Augmented Reality
Ronald Azum a
writes the First
survery in
Myroa Kr u eger
Creates the
Morton Heilig First
Appearance of
Augmented Reality
Created First
Reality System.
Figure 2. Augmented reality throughout history.
4.2. Scene Identification Techniques move around, the browser can easily give information
concerning your place, e.g. the specific point location
you are interested in, clinics, restaurants, etc. [11]. AS
shown in Figure 4.
Scene identification classifies the scenarios. Also, it is
considered one of the main actions taken in reality aug-
mentation. There are two basic types of scene identifica-
tion techniques which are discussed as follows: 4.3. Scene Processing
Marker-based: The marker-based approach uses the
markers which are in the form of visual tags con-
tained within the real scene which is perceived b y the
AR system [9]. Figure 3 shows the example of mar-
After calculating the spot of a specific marker in real
space according to inner and outer parameters of the
camera, the system looks for the corresponding virtual
model to each marker in the 3D.
Non-marker-based: AR systems which do not utilize
markers make use of devices for scene identification.
Such as AR browser uses tags in order to help users
envisage and surf digital data in real world environ-
ment. For instance, you may go around the town
searching for your preferred restaurant. Through the
video feature that exists in your A R browser, you can
easily find the restaurant you search for instead of
having a look on a map. In addition, as long as you
4.4. Visualization Scene
At the end, the system produces the image of the pro-
jected 3D object and real space and passes on the scene
image that mixes reality and virtua lity in case using mar-
Figure 4. Example of non-marker [10].
Figure 3. Example of marker [10].
ker and present digital information when used non mar-
ker scene of identification techniques [8].
5. Applications of Augmented Reality
The number of application s utilizing augmented reality is
increasing continuously and the outcomes are clear in
many domains e.g. health care, business, education and
amusement. This section concerns with summarizing the
prior researches that exploit the augmented reality ap-
5.1. Medical
5.1.1. Medical Learni n g
It is well known that AR has presented new ways of sub-
mitting information. The health care world would be re-
organized to be represented in a mobile AR way. Such
health related information can be submitted by AR in its
extreme visual. The AR became widespread by virtue of
the smartphones that are supplied with sensors and cam-
era. Such sensors permit the provision of precise context
information to the environmen t aware situation s, the mat-
ter that permits doctors to gather information, illustrate
and identify the measures and procedures. Also, doctors
can easily have control over the sick persons needing
constant intensive care, e.g. measuring the temperature
and heartbeats, etc. This information can be submitted
through the AR. As indicated in Figure 5 of apps utiliz-
ing AR in medical school [12].
5.1.2. Medic al Trai ni ng
AR has had great implications for the medical industry;
however, its more innovative apps come about because
of the popular usage of mobile technology. AR is con-
sidered very beneficial in the field of healthcare training.
For example, the healthcare provider can easily install a
program or an application on his mobile. Such program
or application may contain the main list of medical mea-
sures for the healthcare providers to select from. Once
the healthcare provider chooses one of the measures from
the list, the first screen will display where the tracking
patterns should be situated in the sick person’s body. Af-
ter applying the patterns, the training model will begin.
Fi gu r e 5. Example of a ugmented reality me dical school pr a c -
tical books from student view on phone display [12].
The training program will show an animated simulation
in 3D, indicating precisely when, where, and in what the
various maneuvers should be performed. Also, the user
can alter the point of view of the simulation through
moving the mobile phone, either forwards or backwards,
via the animation. In addition, he can display extra no-
tices in the course of particular points of the measures
[13]. As indicated in Figure 6 one of apps utilizing AR
in medical training.
5.2. Education
5.2.1. E-book
This application depicts a physical interface (augmented
book) relying on augmented reality technology for lear-
ning standard mechanical components. Such book has
been contained in the course of an engineering graphics
subject in a mechanical engineering degree of a Spanish
university [14]. Figure 7 depicts the augmented book.
5.2.2. Chi ldren Education
FETCH! Lunch Rush is defined as an AR application
Figure 6. Example of augmented reality training.
(b) (c)
Figure 7. (a) Augmented book; (b) Examples of hex-head
screw; (c) Examples hex-nut perforated [14].
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that is concerned with teaching mathematical profi-
bjects and Words: Nowadays, digital
5.3. Commerce
ons ons have become a tendency
ciencies to primary pupils via making use of visuali-
zation. Designed in 3-D, the application utilizes in
smartphone camera to place photos on your camera
over real-world surroundings. After that, the applica-
tion instructs primary pupils to add and subtract
through utilizing real-world situations that permits
visualization at the time of solvin g mathematical pro -
blems [15]. Figure 8 depicts the FETCH Lunch Rush
Matching O
games have been designed not only for amusement
but also to boost the learning process. Matching Ob-
jects and Words (MOW) application is an AR game
that is designed and developed to help learning words
in various languages [16]. Figure 9 illustrates an ex-
ample of how it works.
5.3.1. M obi l e Coup
Nowadays, mobile coup
Figure 8. FETCH lunch rush application [15].
(a) (b)
Figure 9. (a) MOW start mes of template
5.3.2. Clothi n g Sho ppi ng s one of the most beneficial
5.3.3. Products Shopping with valuable content. This
enu; (b) Exampl
markers used in MOW; (c) Game 1 being played with Por-
tuguese (left image) and English (right image) words [16].
among customers. For customers, it was impractica
dream to go to the retail store and to have all the coupon
deals forwarded directly to your mobile device. Hence,
the mobile coupon becomes an important instrument.
With the development of AR technology, users became
capable of getting good local deals around their particu-
lar places [10] as shown in Figure 10.
E-commerce is considered a
applications of the AR apps. Specifically on line clothing
shopping due to the users cannot predict whether the
clothes will fit them or not. Hence, individuals start to
connect AR with electronic shopping, e.g. clothing shop-
ping. This step helps to get overcome a biggest obstacle
users face in choose clothing and at the same time im-
prove the quality level and competitiveness of this busi-
ness to new levels [17] as shown in Figure 11.
AR apps provide customers
content may tackle the product characteristics and advan-
tages or may provide information that assists customers
to make a comparison between the different types of
Figure 10. Mobile coupons application csifieds offers las
(a) (b)
Figure 11. (a) er; (b) Mar- Application search for the mark
ker replacement with a virtual object [17].
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products and hence take the best shopping decisions [18].
5.3.4. Shopper Browsing through Different
Buyeratly on web-based social content, e.g.
5.4. Advertising
plication ed with multimedia de-
For example when the consumer who suffers from
alth problems wants to buy cereals but there are many
brands to choose from, he can easily tap an AR app to
know all the products relevant in this information and
thus can easily compare between the different brands and
choose the best one for him [18] as shown in Figure 12.
s depend gre
product reviews, before buying any products. The latest
surveys conducted on the Retail Industry affirm the im-
portance of the social content where as it is considered
the first element relied on before tak ing the purchase de-
cision. Nowadays, this web-based content warehouse is
only reachable by computers that are far removed from
the place of shopping experience itself. A mobile AR ap-
plication outspreads this social content from the com-
puter display to the real world via mobile devices, sup-
plying customers with products related information that
helps them to realize the suitable time for taking the
purchase decision [19] as shown in Figure 13.
5.4.1. Im age Space Ap
Since the smart phones are provid
vices, e.g. many sensors, they are considered the perfect
enablers for AR whereas they enable u sers to catch sight
of the real world via a magic lens. The “Image Space”
Figure 12. Mobile trends for products shopping [18].
(a) (b)
Figure 13. (a) t revie-
er through which users and
5.4.2. Advertisers Print Media Campaigns utilized AR
5.5. Entertainment
game which aims at learn-
Shopper browsing through differen
wers; (b) Shopper focusing on one reviewer while browsing
through books on a shelf [19].
application indicates the mann
small companies can present their content, advertising to
AR view, without exerting great efforts, therefore, this
content can be accessed immediately by any user who
installed the Image Space mobile client on his mobile. As
presented in the screen capture of our mobile client as
indicated in Figure 14, the live camera feed displays the
real world when on the other hand the digital banner is
overlapped on the upper part, making it appears as “stan-
ding” in front the store, even though the user switches the
device [20] .
Throughout the last year, several brand s have
to promote and market their products, e.g. LEGO, JC
Penny, Adidas, etc. Regardless of the application type,
e.g. online, or mobile applications, they all have been
designed in such a way that involves the user in a more
collaborative way rather than the traditional marketing.
Nowadays, mobile augmented reality (known as MAR)
makes it possible for sellers and advertisers to improve
their print advertisements in th eir portfolio of media plan
tactics. Recently, many companies, such as Coca Cola in
Germany and Absolut Vodka in Spain, make user of
MAR in order to add extra dimension and zest their cur-
rent printed advertisements [21] as shown in Figure 15.
5.5.1. Tangible Cubes
This application offers an AR
ing a b ou t an i ma ls in danger of extinction in amusing way.
This application depends on utilizing tangible cubes
(a) (b)
Figure 14. (a) P) Example of lacing the banner on a map; (b
a coffee store banner in the augmented reality client [20].
Figure 15. Advertisers print using augmented reality [21].
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5.5.2. Sightseeing Guidance easily publish and share
5.6. Design
Systems Design e of the AR applica-
s the user interface as indicated in Figure 16. Through
this app, children know much information about the ani-
mals’ characteristics and habits and reasons of probable
extinction [22].
Through this app, users can
sightseeing information through making use of mobile
devices. Hence, this app will assist users to enhance
sightseeing information. Moreover, the suggested appli-
cation system utilizes AR which boosts the real envi-
ronment with computer-generated objects. Consequently,
the application system can be utilized as a sightseeing
guidance system that overlays annotations on a real
world. Particularly, the suggested application system
submits virtual tour guides in order to help their tour [23]
as indicated in Figures 17-19.
5.6.1. Machinery
The machinery systems design is on
tions which are concerned with enhancing product design
and development. This application focuses on a different
engineering instrument. Hence, design and its related
matters are submitted in a limited way. It is probable to
(a) (b)
Figure 16. (a) Th) A boy e three cubes used in the game; (b
is trying to find the Orinoco crocodile in game [22].
Figure 17. Augmented reality view [24].
Figure 18. Detailed information view [24].
utilize thhat
5.6.2. Fu r niture Desig n n will enable you to reorganize
e AR technology in design, with the desire t
in sometime in the future it may become a complemen-
tary part of a standard design process of more dependable
and resilient machinery systems. The basic aim of the
applied application was to help designers of machinery
system to design more dependable mobile robots. Know-
ledge embodied in a procedural form should be utilized
during the design process in order to remove causes of
incompetence in the upcoming products. Such knowl-
edge is stored in a knowledge database which is gained
from experts [25] as indicated in Figure 20.
Having a good applicatio
the chamber while sitting down on your sofa. With the
AR application, you can easily see the general view of
the new furniture in the sittin g room or you can know the
suitable color for the office. AR is considered an amaz-
ing notion which can easily deliver virtual furniture into
our houses. Also, this application can arrange the new
furniture in your house on screen in real time. In addition,
it can easily alter the color, size, and location of every
piece for full customization [26] as indicated in Figure
Figure 19. Map [24].
(a) (b)
Figure 20. (a) & (b) Previewing data from a database; (c)
cess [25].
Viewing instructions or procedures concerning design pro-
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6. Current Challenges of Augmented Reality
In this section, the current challenges facing augmented
There are some perceptual matters associated with the
uch matters can cause further pro-
There are some technical problems connected with the
are as follows:
reality are described. They are classified as follows:
6.1. Environment
environment itself. S
blems through the interaction between the environment
and the augmentations [27]. The most important chal-
lenges facing the environment are as follows:
Lighting and weather conditions unfortunately, it is
indicated that in outside environments, many of the
features existing in natural pictures are not connected
to real physical features. Shadows caused by light
being blocked by objects in the scene help corners
and lines to occur and to move as lighting or climate
conditions change. Consequently, a large number of
outliners and divergences influence localization qual-
ity, regardless of selecting corresponding algorithm
The color scheme and diversity of an environment
can hamper accurate perception on the whole and re-
sult in major problems while illustrating it. In addi-
tion, the color scheme of an environment would cause
major problems in the light conditions variation. At
last, surfaces with high color variances would influ-
ence the reflectiveness of projected images in projec-
tor-camera systems [27].
6.2. Display Device
display device [27]. They
Camera quality and handling in the light of bad ligh-
ting conditions, the imaging competences of camera
sensors that are being widespread in devices become
poor. Pictures are fuzzy and colors begin to undergo
significant aberration [28].
Color fidelity in outside environments is considered
an extremely difficult issue. Altering the external con-
ditions greatly influence optical see-through displays
than video see-through displays, whereas in video
see-through both the real world and the overlays are
Figure 21. Home design interior space using augmented
reality [26].
presented in the same color gamut [27].
Still, there are some major challenges even with the
much more developed hardware. Hence, we conclude
that we are not completely capable of utilizing AR as a
commonly feature existing on smartphones.
6.3. Content Management
era ll number of
etween cur-
rent systems and data sources. The regular users, visitors
systems, should have
are never-ending. Advanced re-
takes account of suggests for an era where
ion between individuals and information is
proposal find
ed by
ical concern arising [6].
A lot of the current handheld AR systems are incomplete
on the way of attaching the new content to them. In gen-
l, such systems are controlled by a sma
ofessional domains. The authority to add new content
is only given to application developers, and this is avail-
able through the backend of the application due to the
need of programming skills to make a link b
and/or businessmen, in mobile AR
the ability to add their p ersonal content without spending
great technical efforts. Moreover, there is a user created
feature in these systems, which is presenting a way that is
easy for all users to mash up the content they have al-
ready created from various sources into an identical
handheld AR view [29].
6.4. User
There are also some user concerns which could be a chal-
lenge for AR. The Location of the users is considered a
central element of any AR system [28].
7. Future Trends of Augmented Reality
AR is still in its initial phases; consequently, its upcom-
ing potential applications
search in AR
the interact
done in a straight line without needing the utilization of
any halfway device. A s shown in Figure 22, MIT Media
Lab project “Sixth Sense” is the best model of AR re-
search and Parviz’s contact lens project
environment where information can only be view
the user [5].
Moreover, augmented reality provides an opportunity
to replace and remedy the absent senses for some im-
paired individuals, i.e. AR could be utilized as a sense
alternate instrument. Hearing-impaired individuals could
be given visual signals guiding them to catch missed au-
ral signals and sightless individuals could be given aural
signals guiding them to unknown visual events [6]. An
additional in future some AR applications are not far
from challenges social acceptance issues, privacy con-
cerns, and eth
Alternatively, a small number of related studies have
been prepared for the approval and the usability of AR
systems and innovations in manufacturing instructions
and training that require additional investigations and
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Figure 22. Example of futuristic augmented reality [5].
research in future. Nonetheless, since many experts and
researchers positively declared th e potential likelihood of
AR in industrial and commercial fields in their studies,
AR in manufacturing venues has an opportunity for the
growth of its extent into other business fields such as
manufacturing, services, government-related sections,
and other industrial settings. Along with such sections
appears a good opportunity of AR to be experienced in
e assumed into safety check up in power plants, chemi-
lso, as shown in Fig-
to the m
cupational safety and health (OSH) sectors. AR coul
cal plants, and oil refineries, OSH training for executives
and members of staff with computer-generated 3D set-
tings, as well as AR games and simulations about dan-
gerous resources management [2].
An additional app provided by application developer
Crowd Optic may head for a new development in aug-
mented reality apps. This new technology of Crowd Op-
tic put fans gathering like sh ows or sports even ts in focus
In the future augmented reality will provide opportuni-
ties for businesses and dealers to spend their money and
efforts in new fields of AR. The researchers expected all
augmented reality applications returns will come up to
$5155.92 million by 2016 [31]. A
e 23 the total mobile AR revenues from 2012 to 2017
will be come up to $5.2 billion on mobile devices split by
different categories of application [32].
8. Co
Augmented reality is considered a competence that has
been around for years. Augmented reality is still in its
initial phases; and thus the upcoming possible apps are
endless. A lot of AR products have been presented in
several kinds and spread around the world. The layering
of information over 3D space creates completely new
experiences of the world, and supports the broader tran-
sition of computing from the desktop obile
2012 2017
Enterprise Multimedia & Lifestyle & Games
Social Net wor ki ng Healthcare
Location Based
Figure 23. Revenues of augmented reality mobile applica-
tion from 2012 to 2017 [32].
devices, and at the same time raising new outlook con-
cerning reaching information and new chances for learn-
ing. In spite of the fact that AR is utilized broadly in the
customers sector, for example it is used in social engage-
ment, entertainment and marketing, new forms of usage
appear every day. It can be easily utilized as a tool fo
developing new apps. In addition, AR will be more ac
rview and Five Directions for AR
tional Technology Devel-
opment and Exchange, pp. 119-140.
[3] D. Krevelen ay of Augmented
Opportunities and Challenges of Augmented Re-
cessible in the recently future and it will be a comple-
entary part in our lives. m
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