The unique secret advantage that puts AR ahead of VR
VR and AR are poised to become some of the biggest names in the tech world in the coming few years.
Before I begin, I’ll define the two to avoid confusion
Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.
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.
To put it simply, AR overlays stuff on to a camera feed of the world, whereas VR displays something completely different.
VR has been pushed extensively by companies like Google and Facebook, yet it still hasn’t seen adoption by the mass consumer market.
Perhaps the biggest use case of VR for general consumers right now is gaming. I would know, I’m a teenager and have enough teenage friends. VR gaming is extremely coveted and VR headsets are seen as very cool.
However, none of those friends have VR headsets(proper headsets, google cardboard does not count). In fact, I don’t know anyone who has a VR headset.
From our conversations, this seems to be because
- High cost- VR headsets can cost $600-$800, sometimes without controllers included in the price
- Requirements- VR headsets require that they be tethered to PCs with good enough specs to run games. This means that the price of a good PC must be added on top of the price of the headset with it’s controllers, amounting to way more than $1000
- Anti-Social- If you are wearing a VR headset, you are blind to the world around you- literally. This means one cannot wear it in public, and when in the house, it will have to be used alone.
- Not exciting enough- Although VR is an interesting new way to experience games and other things, in the end, it seems as if it just isn’t worth the price tag to invest in such an expensive set, if the games and other things aren’t that good in the first place. This isn’t to say they aren’t good, it’s just that they don’t match the price tag.
AR doesn’t have most of these bad qualities, and that’s because of phones. Everybody has phones, whether people like AR or not.
With the creation of ARKit for iOS and ARCore for Android, developers will have a platform to create AR applications that reach billions of people.
Compared to the disadvantages of VR, AR has
- A negligible cost — people will buy phones anyway, so there is no extra cost required to start with AR, compared to a PC, headset, and controllers for VR
- No extra requirements — AR only needs your phone, compared to an extra PC, headset and controllers. People carry phones around anyway
- Social — AR can be experienced in the public as well as indoors, with obstructing communication to people around you. Compared to VR, which takes over your sense of vision, hearing, and, because of the controllers, touch, you are severely limited as to when and where you can use it
- Exciting — This one is debatable, but due to the push google and apple are doing to AR apps, it seems as if there will be high competition to create increasingly creative applications utilizing it
AR will beat VR because of smart phones.
It is completely possible that VR will become some sort of niche product for gaming, but AR has the potential to go global much faster, and due to its low barrier of entry, ability to be experienced anywhere. Furthermore, due to the creation of platforms to optimise it on smartphones like ARKit and ARCore it has the potential to reach many more people.
Thanks for reading,
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