New technologies spring up so much these days, sometimes it’s difficult keeping track of them all. One that has been shown us recently is Augmented reality (AR). I am pretty sure some of us here, haven’t truly grasped what it means, hence, I’m urged to paint the clearest of pictures for us the best way I can – with words. We first look at what AR is, then how it is different from Virtual Reality (VR).
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
The name is Augmented Reality, and the first word “augment” means to “enlarge” or “increase”, to “grow” or “intensify”. Now add “reality” to that. Essentially, what we see is a reality enhanced with digital information (relevant to us or based on present situation). Imagine pulling graphics out of your television screen or computer display and bringing them into real-world environments.
In augmented reality, elements in the real-world environment are intensified by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. A view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished) by a computer. Digital information is integrated with the user environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. Pokémon Go anyone?
Some apps using this technology can use a phone’s GPS and compass. By knowing where you are, these can offer information relevant to you, and in the process, enhancing your current perception of reality. Pokémon Go is a good example. Think of swiping out your phone’s camera in a public place, and placing it in front of a building and it shows you a brief history of the structure. Or for firms, it could instantly display vacancies if they have any. Now you get the picture.
How is it different from VR (Virtual Reality)?
We have also heard of virtual reality (VR). What is the difference between the AR and VR? Virtual Reality totally replaces our real world with a virtual one. When you put on the VR headset, you’re immersed into a totally different world. On the flip side, augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, and even haptic feedback to the natural world as it exists, hence, AR is closer to the real world when compared to VR that replaces everything.
The most popular (and cheapest) VR devices are the paper made Google Cardboard. But you get better functionality and immersive experience on the real VR headset – like in the picture above. Samsung has theirs you can buy, then there are cheaper options in Chinese stores.
VR and AR is paving way for the next generation of content consumption. You should try it out sometime. Have you ever experienced virtual reality? Voice out in the comments.