Augmented Reality: a great support to Waste Prevention and Circular Economy

I am sure that most of my readers, when they think about augmented reality, the first thing they realise is that a new type of complex e-waste will sooner pr later become massive:the augmented reality lenses. However, we need to see the whole picture. 2016 is considered the year of augmented reality, especially for its emerging business applications. If you want to have an idea about the impacts of augmented reality, have a look at how the building industry will benefit from the ability to visualise virtual objects in the real world, and how virtual and augmented reality will reshape retail.

For the ones who are not familiar with augmented reality, allow me briefly to explain the main difference with virtual reality. Virtual Reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blend digital components into the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily.

Few months ago I made a discussion with the journalist Will Simson, from the Resource Magazine, about the perspectives of augmented reality in waste management and recycling. In this discussion I tried to explain that AR can be very helpful for waste prevention, Circular Economy efforts and recycling practices. As an example I said that “AR could help you to realise the impact of each and every product before you turn it into waste. You know with several products there [are] a lot of signs on them – about packaging, health and safety, dangerous materials, et cetera. Imagine that you carried designs with your augmented reality application and then you have a visualisation of what their environmental impact is – what is this product made of? What are the materials that are hazardous, and where exactly will they create problems? I can see AR becoming very helpful at preventing waste in the first place.”

Will made his own research and he published a great article titled “Augmented Reality comes to Waste Management“, in which he lists several examples he identified in repair practices, managing hazardous waste and planning. I guess it is a must read and a good intro to to AR for every beginner. Instead of conclusions, allow me to finish this piece by saying that when the real world is overlaid succesfully with any type of digital information, we will be able to resolve, re-conceptualise and re-imagine the most difficult problems…

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