Imagine being able to remove that ugly clock from the mantelpiece. Or to delete an entire section from the bookcase and make space for an armchair. It would be amazing if we could adapt the real world to our desire and get rid of all the things we do not like or find obsolete and useless. Actually, we can do that, and the technique is called diminished reality.
Diminished reality is technology which allows users, through a combination of hardware devices and software applications, to remove or diminish the visibility of real life objects from the view. In truth, it is the opposite of augmented reality – instead of adding virtual items to a given space, it deletes unwanted existing objects from the respective space.
How Diminished Reality Works in the AR Environment
Augmented reality glasses and software of the latest generation will soon make it possible for everyone to experience diminished reality. Not just for fun, but also as a part of the brand new shopping experience. At least, this is what several established companies and startups are currently working on.
How do you do it? The procedure itself is called in-painting. By analyzing the surroundings of the object you mark for removal, this process replaces the object with the colors and textures around it. For people who have tried their hand at photo editing, it is like using the Healing Brush tool in Adobe Photoshop.
Uses of Diminished Reality in Business
For retail companies, diminished reality is a powerful marketing and sales tool, paired with augmented reality. As a simple example, think of all those apps developed by furniture and home improvement brands such as Lowe’s or IKEA. They allow people to virtually see how a piece of furniture would look in their bedroom or living room.
It works great, provided that there is an empty space there to fill it with the computer generated image. But what if you have an old sofa or armchair which you want to replace? By using augmented reality on its own, the CGI image would be superimposed over the existing piece of furniture. The result would be awkward and difficult to assess from the point of view of esthetics.
Enter diminished reality: it helps you remove the old sofa from the image you see through the augmented reality glasses or AR apps, before you add the item you intend to purchase. Now you can have a clear view of how the new sofa would look in your living room.
A World of Possibility for Augmented Reality Shopping
This example can be expanded to many other possible uses. Hairstyle and makeup AR apps would also benefit from this technology. For instance, men who have a moustache or a beard can remove it with DR before actually taking up the razor. In fashion sales, a heavy winter coat can be virtually taken off to try a summer dress. And so on.
Diminished reality practically removes the final barrier between people and the fully immersive experience of augmented reality shopping. It removes all those “props” from the real life which prevent us from getting the most realistic experience of trying on new products and discovering new environments. It is the last puzzle piece needed to create a crystal clear image where make believe takes over reality.