Virtual + Augmented Reality
What is Virtual and Augmented Reality?
Augmented and Virtual Reality sound like they are the same thing but they're not. Both of them deal with how we view/understand our surrounding but each does it in a very different and unique way. Let me give you a quick overview and then we'll go more in depth below.
- Augmented Reality (AR): AR is the process of augmenting our actual surroundings with data, image overlays and other information for us to interact with our environment in a hybrid fashion. Simply put it augments our ACTUAL reality.
- Virtual Reality (VR): VR is the process of creating a separate reality from our actual reality by using audio, visual and at time physical techniques to make us feel we are realistically in an alternate reality. Simply put it create an ALTERNATE reality.
To put it very simply, AR will enhance your surroundings with information related to whatever your particular goals or needs are. VR will completely replace your reality with an entirely simulated reality customized to whatever your desired goals or needs are. In both cases they are intended to give you a more relevant experience for whatever you want do be it: specialized training, seeing how furniture would look in your home, understanding the best path to take on a hike, or spotting relevant information when you are driving; AR + VR will change how we learn, purchase, navigate and many other things in the world in the coming decades.
When it comes to significance, I believe AR + VR will play a large role in the evolution of how we live and communicate much in the same way cell phones changed the way most of us live, interact and socialize. It was virtually impossible for anyone to imagine how significant cell phones would be when they were first launched. In the beginning they were viewed much in the same way we currently look at Google Glass, Facebooks' Oculus and many others launching their products; they're big, kinda cool, but way too expensive for the average person to buy and use. However, as more consumers gain first hand experiences with VR + AR systems the demand will grow and more companies will start to participate in the sector. I believe VR + AR will be the next natural extension of media creation and sharing allowing people to share content others can not only view but also interact with. Imagine being sent an amazing travel photo from your friend, but instead of just viewing it, the photo has the ability to transport you to the location using virtual reality and you were able to experience almost the same thing as your friend. Or imagine kids learning about the solar system and being able to walk virtually on the surface of the Moon or on Mars?
The applications of AR + VR are only limited to the imagination of the companies and developers who create services and products to move the industry along. I think Virtual Reality has the greatest immediate application for consumers across segments given its ability to enhance shopping, traveling, learning, navigation and many other areas since there are already thousands of multi-billion dollar companies looking to reduce friction points and increase sales with consumers. AR has the capacity to remove almost all the guess work from the buying an item that you do not physically have in the location that you need it to make a confident decision. AR would also be revolutionary in reducing errors of technical field staff as they can be provided the correct information in real time while on a site directly in their line of sight. No need to google, look anything or ask anyone, the information will be right in front of you signing off on everything you do.
More In Depth Applications of Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality is the next evolution in the gaming, entertainment, content sharing and education. I wrote earlier how VR would make it possible for kids to walk on the surface of the Moon, Mars and possible other planets via VR systems, but this is just a small fraction of what VR could do students and consumers alike. Here are a some additional applications of VR that I believe will drive the growth of the industry:
- Gaming - easily the most popular and well known application of VR is real life full immersion gaming that places players into the life like scenarios. These types of games will likely act as a gateway into gaming for many people who prefer active/interactive activities to the traditional sit and play games of today.
- Entertainment - VR will give people an IMAX experience on steroids from the comfort of their home or even on their plane ride. It also will give rise to an entire new form of film and entertainment creation.
- Content/Media Sharing - I believe this will be the primary driver for the growth in the VR arena. The ability for people to easily capture and share moments where their friends can step into the place like they were there either in real time or stored for later. The main mediums people choose to communicate thru are images and videos capturing where they are, what they were doing, and most importantly for their friends to react to the content. As consumers are given greater abilities to create their own VR the technology will explode like never before. Just think about how cool it would be to store the best moments of your life not as a series of photos or short videos, but as an actual moment that you can step back into whenever you want.
- Education + Training - VR will be monumental in educating and training kids, teenagers and adults in a broad range of activities. VR has already been used by the military for many years to train fighter pilots but with the creation of more affordable VR units from companies like Samsung, HTC, Apple and Facebook there will be a solid opportunity for schools to deploy VR educational materials. Students would have the ability to travel to any part of the world to experience what they are learning about as if there were there. Walk around the North Pole, take a stroll on the Moon, learn to fly a jet, all of these become approachable realities for students and adults to learn.
More In Depth Applications of Augmented Reality
As I mentioned above, I believe augmented reality is going to be a massive changed for people in their personal and professional lives. Beyond just being able to see if a couch will fit and look good in your apartment, I want you to think about a few of these applications of AR that would be game changers in my opinion:
- No more laptops or desktops. You would be able to transport all of your information on a small connected computing and storage devices and do all of your work directly via AR.
- No more cell phones as we know them. Sure looking at your cell phone is something that we've all become accustomed to but in the future, AR lenses would be able to project all of the information that we normally look at on our phone without having to take any device out.
- Work space would be portable and easily customizable. AR would allow workers to easily create custom screen layouts for their workplace without any clutter on their deak
- Super privacy - ever feel like people are looking at what your writing or looking up when you're out in public? I know that I sure do. But with AR the only person who can see the information instantly is the owner/wearer of the lens. You can sit in a cafe and never have to worry about anyone looking over your shoulder again.