In only the last six months we have seen Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality really hit consumer markets. The technologies has come a long way since their first appearances in the 80’s, however there is still some confusion around the differences between the two. What is the difference between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)? We explore their benefits and downfalls below.
What Is Augmented Reality?
AR is a technology which exists in the market currently in the form of smart phones. Dedicated Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) are entering the market this year such as the Microsoft HoloLens and Meta Glasses. AR is best described as the act of overlaying a digital image over the real world environment around you. An important aspect of this is that the device delivering your AR experience will utilize some form of outward facing sensor (usually two cameras) to capture the real environment around you, understand it via depth perception, and then overlay digital imagery by anchoring it within the environment.
As technology progresses further, the promise or true Augmented Reality is the ability to seamlessly blend real life with an environment the user chooses to project.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality hardware has been available to big businesses (with even bigger price tags) since the 80’s, where the technology mostly resided in academic institutions. In early 2012 we saw the Kickstarted Virtual Reality headset called the Oculus Rift, a garage project which lead to being acquired by Facebook for $2 billion dollars. Since then multiple other major tech companies have launched their own consumer HMDs (or Head Mounted Displays) such as Valve/HTC with the Vive room scale system, and Samsung with the mobile GearVR.
Virtual reality can be differentiated from AR in a number of key features. Firstly the VR HMD is designed to remove as much light and input from the physical world around you. It then has a high resolution screen which is updated in real time with an image of the virtual environment you are looking into. With a lens between the screen and each of your eyes the screen is warped in a way that stretches the view around your line of sight. With a powerful computer or mobile smart phone the virtual world is updated so that as you turn your head, the virtual environment responds, giving you a sense of ‘presences’. It is the sense of presence which differentiates VR form AR, as the user will feel they are within the virtual environment rather than still a part of their physical environment.
It is quite difficult to imagine the differences are between AR and VR, particularly when it comes to feeling presence within a virtual environment. We at ImmersePort highly recommend people to try both mediums to really grasp the difference and understand how they could harness the potential of this technology for their own applications. If you are interested in learning more about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Brisbane, please contact us. We will be more than happy to help.