Technology is at a beautiful, futuristic stage right now that has left a lot of options open for us. From the number of emerging trends over recent times, one of the most futuristic would be Virtual Reality, or VR. However, another term has also made its way to the forefront. This would be none other than AR (Augmented Reality). Although virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have existed in some form for decades, only recently have they garnered mainstream attention.Many people confuse AR and VR with each other. Let’s find out the difference between them and compare both of them alongside some cool real life examples.
Virtual Reality: The world of Desires
Virtual reality, as the name suggests, is a virtual (or computer generated) scenario. It simulates the real environment. It has no relation whatsoever to the actual environment the user is in, nor does it interact with the real world. Virtual reality is all about the creation of a virtual world that users can interact with. This virtual world should be designed in such a way that users would find it difficult to tell the difference from what is real and what is not.
VR is the only medium that guarantees the user’s complete focus on the content. There is no looking away, no checking email or text messages and no updating social-media statuses. VR is the most immersive way to tell a story because what happens inside that headset makes you feel something in your head, heart and gut. VR has already started to revolutionize the way we watch content, but will never be the technology we turn to in our everyday lives.
There are two main types of VR headsets:
- PC-connected headsets : These VR headsets are connected to a computer or a gaming console that generates high-quality virtual experiences. In this case, users can actually interact with the virtual environment they’re immersed in. he most popular PC-connected VR headsets are HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR.
- Standalone headsets : these don’t need to be connected to a computer or console. Most standalone VR headsets use a smartphone screen to provide the virtual reality experience. PC connected VRs are quite expensive so standalone headsets are a cheaper way to experience virtual reality for VR lovers. Samsung Gear VR is a popular choice.
Real-Life Applications of Virtual Reality
The first industry that will come to your mind when you hear about VR is probably gaming. but it isn’t the only industry that has embraced the VR technology. Other notable applications of VR are:
Businesses can easily reach out to their customers by launching immersive and engaging marketing campaigns. This is particularly very important in the age of online shopping, as VR experiences help people get a feel for products without leaving their homes. The series Game of Thrones created the “Ascend the Wall” VR experience in 2014. Their rumbling elevator blasts cool air at viewers as they experience climbing up the 700-foot wall of Castle Black. This was later developed into a VR-viewing experience before the launch of their sixth season. This cutting-edge experience went viral while bringing serious attention to the hit show.
Travel is one industry where VR can totally revolutionize things. People can get to know about a place before they even travel it. Virtual tours can help travel businesses promote destinations and attract tourists. Marriott (an exquisite hotel chain) launched its virtual reality service for its guests in select destinations. Guests are allowed to take a look at a vivid collection of travel destinations from Beijing to Chile using VR headsets.
- Real Estate
From decades you are seeing photos of a property to get a view about the place.Agents can now use virtual reality for this purpose. Unlike photos, VR can make potential buyers take three-dimensional walkthroughs and better understand what each property has to offer before visiting in person. Matterport is already using 360-degree video showcases to help agents better interact with their clients. The platform gave clients a chance to walk the rooms of luxury accommodations or a cruise ship designed to cater the needs of people without even moving.
Virtual reality can give an in-depth look into human anatomy, helping doctors better understand their patients’ needs. VR technology also comes in handy for surgical training. Vivid Vision has created technology that helps people with lazy eye improve their vision. Users play VR games on the computer at home or under clinician supervision that are designed to treat amblyopia, strabismus, convergence insufficiency, and stereo depth deficiency.
VR right now is one of the best tech to leave a long lasting impression on people’s mind about a particular content. Learning content through VR can revolutionize education, making learning more fun and engaging. And apart from schools and universities, virtual experiences can also help businesses train their staff. Unimersiv is offering VR educational content for businesses and institutions. By downloading the app, you will have access to multiple experiences that will let you learn about history, space or the human anatomy.
Augmented Reality: The World Within
Augmented reality has a less invasive procedure. What it does is overlay the real world (seen through our device’s camera etc) with digital components, effectively enhancing the existing environment. Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with contents in the real world. With AR, users are able to interact with virtual contents in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two.
Elements like graphics, sounds, smell etc are added to the natural world to create the feel of augmented reality. Computer-generated enhancements in AR make it more meaningful as a technology and the user is also able to interact with it making it livelier. AR will typically require slightly less processing power compared with VR as it doesn’t need to render a complete scene.
Two things you can use to experience AR are:
- Portable devices
- AR headsets
Applications of AR technology
Pokemon Go was a real breakthrough in mobile games but the augmented reality technology has a lot more to offer. Other fields where Ar technology can be used are:
Online shopping is convenient, time-saving, and money-saving. AR apps are a great solution to this problem, as they allow customers to virtually view or even try on products sold online. To experience AR in online shopping, try IKEA Place. This augmented reality application for iOS helps users check whether a piece of furniture from IKEA’s catalog fits into their home or not. The AR app helps customers visualize what their furniture might look like in their own living rooms or street or elevators. You don’t have to play the guessing game anymore.
- Repairs and Maintenance
For certain car brands, and those willing to use apps in beta, AR-assisted car repair is already a reality. Here are some of the ways AR is coming to the auto repair industry. Fieldbit provides an end-to-end, interactive field service collaboration platform for equipment manufacturers and users. Innovative software enables remote experts to send precise visual instructions to field technicians using real-time augmented reality, live video, messaging and voice. With full support for smart glasses (as well as mobile devices), Fieldbit’s platform enables enterprises to create, capture, and share knowledge across the entire organization.
Augmented reality is particularly useful for navigation. Virtual objects overlapping the real world can show directions and guide people to locations. Many businesses use AR to attract people to their stores. Blippar has launched an app allowing people to navigate the world with Augmented Reality. The app harnesses both augmented reality and computer vision to allow users to access information and content as they travel and navigate around cities.
Augmented reality is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in the marketing and advertising industries, recognized as an innovative and creative way of connecting with customers and increasing engagement. Home Depot tested AR ads during the holiday season to show consumers what a Christmas tree and its decorations would look like, hoping to excite customers about its selection.
Is AR a threat to VR
The overnight success of Pokèmon Go reveals that VR may be under threat by by Augmented Reality (AR), which presents a seamless amalgamation of the real and the virtual world. In the meantime business owners were quick to capitalize on Pokèmon Go’s marketing potential, setting up their offices, eateries etc as Pokestops establishments, thus capturing real customers while they were capturing digital monsters. AR presents more potential for marketers as customers can be targeted in both digital and real environments simultaneously.
VR does not offer many unique content marketing opportunities to marketers. VR usually requires the user to remain static for safety reasons. This presents difficulties for marketers who’s industries are based on physical goods sold in traditional stores. AR and VR are not really competing technologies at all, but rather complimentary technologies. They both serve slightly different functions and in all likelihood, both will have a big role in our future.
The Concept of Mixed Reality
Mixed Reality (sometimes called Hybrid Reality ) aims to combine the best aspects of both virtual reality and augmented reality. Mixed Reality (MR) is far more advanced than Virtual Reality because it combines the use of several types of technologies including sensors, advanced optics and next gen computing power. In mixed reality you can see virtual objects just like you can in augmented reality, but these objects can also interact with the real world. In a sense, mixed reality is a more immersive and interactive type of augmented reality.
Mixed Reality works by scanning your physical environment and creating a 3D map of your surroundings so the device will know exactly where and how to place digital content into that space while allowing you to interact with it using gestures. Mixed reality is being used to enhance fan experiences of just about every sport including the NBA and NFL. NextVR provide AR fan experiences in major sports. For example, fans can watch an NBA VR Game of the Week.
Microsoft too has the Mixed Reality Capture Studios and Mixed Reality Academy at its Reactor in San Francisco, inviting creatives to come in and experiment with AR, VR and everything in between.
The French manufacturer Renault Trucks is studying the potential benefits of augmented reality — more specifically mixed reality. Renault Trucks identifies considerable opportunities in the technology. The use of mixed reality improves the process while reducing quality control time. It furthermore reduces the cognitive load of operators and accelerates their training.
What lies in the future
By 2021, the combined market size of augmented and virtual reality is expected to reach 215 billion U.S. dollars. Accordingly, there is an expected increment in the market potential because of ease of development and awareness among consumers. Augmented Reality is expected to acquire 1 billion users by 2020. For VR and AR to reach their expected potential, they will have to clear some hurdles with the average consumer. After trying various headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and HoloLens it became clear to that issues with weight, heat, wires and set up time need to be addressed sooner rather than later. High costs and a lack of apps are also standing in the way of consumer adoption. The market is rising rapidly and we have not even harnessed the 10% potential of these technologies. The coming years will be hell of a ride!