Augmented Reality (AR) is not a new phenomenon in the information technology industry although there is a lot of buzz around it in the recent years. The history of AR traces back to 1950s and 60s even before personal computing evolved. With devices such as Sensoroma, head mounted displays that were built back then, the seeds of augmented reality were sown quite a few decades ago.
However, Augmented Reality like other pieces in the reality spectrum, whether it be virtual reality, mixed reality, augmented virtuality, has picked momentum in recent years given the growth in mobile, social computing, the more sophisticated devices including cameras, head mounted gear, improved system processing speeds, internet speeds, inter-connectivity amongst devices amongst others. These together have created a new market for this industry including the overwhelming support from users, whether in domains such as games, entertainment, health care, travel etc. Thus from a stakeholder sponsorship, to technology innovations and capabilities, to a market for consumption, the timing is just right for augmented reality to take centre stage.
At a very high level, what is augmented reality and how is quality contributing to rich solutions in this space? As the name suggests Augmented Reality is augmenting a reality / real scenario. For example, a user in a zoo in a safari wants to view a lion far away, up close on his/her car window, giving options to zoom in/out and carry on other activities, which one cannot, in the real environment. Herein, we are taking the real environment and augmenting it. To enable augmented reality testing, live feeds are very important. A number of challenges around testing for different platforms, surfaces (for example, a user can project the augmented reality even on a wall), inter-operability with other apps, connect back to the device which is often a mobile devices, are all important things to focus on, in testing. While certain core scenarios around view points, touch pad, core operations around zoom, object properties etc. can be built as a generalized set for AR testing, a lot comes in exploratory with creative thinking and experience, over time. Besides just Augmented Reality app testing experience, domain knowledge also helps here. For example, what specific scenarios to try for AR app testing specific to entertainment, games etc. goes a long way in making the test effort effective.
Similar the other aspect of Augmented Reality is the opportunities it provides to enable smarter software testing. Herein, there is a lot of room for innovation – our testers at QA InfoTech, for example, have experimented with faster test case management using augmented reality that captures testers gestures and interprets them to log results, especially in manual efforts. This is just one possibility of the many that exist, where AR provides good scope to automate mundane processes that we take on.
At an industry level though, all of these new technologies, be it AI, ML, AR, VR, have a lot of promise; engineering and R&D teams are actively playing around in leveraging them to build compelling solutions for end users as well as productively use them for smart operations. However all of these have an element of caution to be exercised in ensuring that the applications they are put to use to, do not compromise on the corporate responsibility we all hold in the societies we belong to. This becomes an important test too as part of augmented reality app testing, as in any of these other new technologies that are becoming mainstream.