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ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does AR mean?
AR can stand for hundreds of things, but here are three of the big ones: augmented reality, alternate reality, and ArmaLite rifle.
How do you pronounce AR?[ ey-ahr ]
Where does AR come from?
Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, except instead of immersing the user into a simulated environment, it enhances (augments) an existing environment around them, usually digitally. Potential applications range from education to medicine.
An early, analog AR example was Morton Heilig’s 1950s Sensorama cinema. Heilig would hide in a movie theater and administer vibrations and smells to enhance the viewing experience. It is unconfirmed what he would use to create the smells.
The phrase augmented reality emerged by 1992, with the abbreviation AR following after. AR is familiar to many when watching football on television, with the technology used to add a first-down line on screens. AR exploded into public consciousness in 2016, with the world’s favorite pastime (for a month) Pokemon Go, which mapped digital creatures on real-world maps.
Alternate reality is the concept of universes that coexist alongside the one we’re all in. Since the mid-20th century, physicists—such as Erwin Schrödinger, of cat fame—have considered the possibilities of parallel universes, or alternate realities, sometimes abbreviated as AR.
A final AR is found in AR-15. First created and designated in the 1950s, the AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle that we’re all too tragically familiar with due to its use in mass shootings—or, less darkly, video games. Contrary to popular belief, the AR does not stand for assault rifle but ArmaLite Rifle after the company that first made it.
How is AR used in real life?
Techies and educators alike are very excited about the potential of AR. It can bring hard-to-imagine things to life. Alongside VR for virtual reality, AR is commonly used as a jargon abbreviation in the tech industry and startup communities.
#MR app "AR VR Molecules Editor" is designed for high school or college students taking #chemistry courses. All molecules are shown as 3D objects – a very efficient way to learn more and deeper about atoms and bonds is by VR and AR: https://t.co/LdRgeXJ2Gt https://t.co/sjgzmI6bv6 pic.twitter.com/H1TAHIMv51
— John Morton (@JohnMordon) September 16, 2018
Rick and Morty fans will be all too familiar with the concept of alternate realities, as it’s a key concept that underpins the popular cartoon.
Outside of discussion of theoretical alternate realities, alternate reality is used as a figure of speech to characterize someone who is in such denial of the facts that it’s as if they are living in an alternate reality. The abbreviation AR is more likely to be found in scientific contexts.
Wow, it's like you're living in an alternate reality. What do you do, watch TV and eat junk food all day? Oh, wait… https://t.co/KR1dKQgOrw
— Peg Aloi (@themediawitch) December 12, 2017
AR-15 often comes up in discussions in gun control, especially after mass shootings in the United States.
More examples of AR:
“Onshape lets engineers collaborate on 3D designs with Magic Leap’s AR glasses”
—Dean Takahashi, Venture Beat (headline), October, 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.