How Augmented Reality Works

Augmented Reality in the Military

assault rifle controller video game assault rifle controller video game
Jakub Ginda uses a U.S. Army Elite Force assault rifle controller to play a video game at the CTA Digital booth at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A lot of military applications have been found for first-person shooter video games. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Militaries were some of the early adopters of gaming technology, seeing the possibilities for training soldiers for warfare realistically but in safe settings. And militaries are likely to do the same with AR.

Soldiers will plunge into an evermore immersive battlefield environment accentuated with helmet-mounted displays, smart glasses and much more. It's a market that may be worth $1.4 billion in 2018 [source: VisionGain].

Arcane Technologies, a Canadian company, has sold augmented-reality devices to the U.S. military. The company produces a head-mounted display — the sort of device that was supposed to bring us virtual reality — that superimposes information on your world. Consider a squad of soldiers in Afghanistan, performing reconnaissance on an opposition hideout. An AR-enabled head-mounted display could overlay blueprints or a view from a satellite or overheard drone directly onto the soldiers' field of vision.

And in an odd bit of fiction becoming reality, a lot of these military applications are just now becoming possible, in part because of the amazingly advanced physics calculations and programming made possible by ... the first-person-shooter gaming industry [source: Nichols].

Now that we've established some of the many current and burgeoning uses of augmented reality, let's take a look at the technology's limitations and what the future holds.