Everything Augmented: On the Real in Augmented Reality

  • Hanna Schraffenberger Media Technology Research Group, LIACS, Leiden University
  • Edwin van der Heide Media Technology Research Group, LIACS, Leiden University & Studio Edwin van der Heide, Rotterdam
Keywords: Augmented Reality, Augmentation, Real, Virtual, Media Art, Media Theory, Perception, Interaction


What is augmented in Augmented Reality (AR)? In this paper, we review existing opinions and show how little consensus exists on this matter. Subsequently, we approach the question from a theoretical and technology-independent perspective. We identify spatial and content-based relationships between the virtual and the real as being decisive for AR and come to the conclusion that virtual content augments that to which it relates. Subsequently, we categorize different forms of AR based on what is augmented. We distinguish between augmented environments, augmented objects, augmented humans and augmented content and consider the possibility of augmented perception. The categories are illustrated with AR (art) works and conceptual differences between them are pointed out. Moreover, we discuss what the real contributes to AR and how it can shape (future) AR experiences. A summary of our findings and suggestions for future research and practice, such as research into multimodal and crossmodal AR, conclude the paper.

Author Biographies

Hanna Schraffenberger, Media Technology Research Group, LIACS, Leiden University
Hanna Schraffenberger is a PhD student and researcher at the Media Technology Research Group at Leiden University. Her research interests include interactivity, interactive art and Augmented Reality. She is particularly interested in multimodal Augmented Reality and its applications in the arts. Besides doing research, Hanna is interested in communicating scientific topics to a broader public. She is the Editor-in-Chief of AR[t], an inspiring magazine series about Augmented Reality, art and technology.  
Edwin van der Heide, Media Technology Research Group, LIACS, Leiden University & Studio Edwin van der Heide, Rotterdam
Edwin van der Heide is an artist and researcher in the field of sound, space and interaction. He extends the terms composition and musical language into spatial, interactive and interdisciplinary directions. His work comprises installations, performances and environments. In his pieces, the audience members are placed in the middle of the work and challenged to actively explore, interact and relate themselves to the artwork. Besides running his own studio, he is a part-time Assistant Professor at Leiden University (Media Technology MSc programme) and heading the Spatial Interaction Lab at the ArtScience Interfaculty of the Royal Conservatoire and Royal Academy of Art in the Hague.  


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