Do you remember the first time you heard the term “augmented reality?” For most of us, the term was likely most closely associated with cutting-edge technology applied to video games, such as Augmented Reality Quake first-person shooter (the first game to use AR) or perhaps the 2016 Pokémon Go. AR actually has a much longer history, with military applications among the earliest uses of AR.

Pokémon Go was a huge leap over previous AR applications, but today’s AR technology has already come a long way since 2016. These advances are driving AR adoption across a much wider range of industries besides gaming and military. Let’s take a look at some of the more cutting-edge, yet everyday uses of AR that are beginning to become a part of our lives.

Photo/Video Filters
Have you ever used Instagram, Snapchat, or any other number of apps that allow you to add freckles, a cat face, sparkles, sunglasses, or other change to your face? If so, then you’ve used augmented reality. Using AI and face tracking technologies, these filters represent some of the most advanced AR technology while also reaching a thoroughly mainstream consumer audience. Similar technology is used whenever you use a snazzy background in a Zoom chat.

Navigation
Another popular application for AR is in navigation apps, where users can get real-time traffic information, directions, and other environmental information superimposed on a smartphone screen. While this particular use of AR is somewhat nascent and mostly phone in mobile apps, it is likely going to be used in the near future in car window shields.

Tourism and Museums
Tourism boards and museums are now starting to use AR to create richer visitor experiences. Users can now find AR applications to uncover interesting historical facts simply by pointing their smartphone cameras at a monument or building, while subway systems are using AR to help users navigate and get around more easily. Museums are using AR to enhance exhibits and make them more interactive while also delivering a deeper educational experience.

Surgery
Hopefully most people don’t have to experience this particular AR application, but the medical profession is a prime area where AR can have a massive impact. By combining data from medical scans and superimposing them over the body, surgeries can be done in a more precise manner. While this particular application is still being developed and refined, it’s likely that future applications will include information that will be useful to surgeons that make their jobs even easier.

Advanced AR Headsets
Because smartphone technology is so widespread, many of today’s cutting-edge applications are designed for that medium. After all, early AR wearables like Google Glass were essentially commercial flops. However, they opened up a huge new world for applications delivered through specialized headsets. And while we’re seeing companies like Facebook promoting virtual reality headsets, AR headsets tend to have more industrial applications.