Technology is improving at a rapid pace, as many things are possible today that were not possible 10 years ago even if we tried our best to make it happen. Today, some of the impossible things are rising to the occasion in the form of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. But what are they exactly? Let's find out.
Back in the 1990s, virtual reality was on the lips of everyone as multiple companies tried and failed to make it happen. The most notable device back then was the Nintendo Virtual Boy, though it failed miserably, and was discontinued a year after going on sale. Since then, Nintendo has never attempted improve on the technology, which could set the company behind its competition as virtual reality is slowly creeping back into our lives.
When it comes to augmented reality, we're looking at something that has found more success in the consumer space when compared to virtual reality. We've seen several applications with AR, along with video game and hardware devices such as the Google Glass. It is clear that the way things are right now, AR has the upper hand against VR, and that might not be changing anytime soon.
What is Augmented Reality
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.
What is Virtual Reality
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. Furthermore, VR is usually achieved by the wearing of a VR helmet or goggles similar to the Oculus Rift.
Difference and similarities
Both virtual reality and augmented reality are similar in the goal of immersing the user, though both systems to this in different ways. With AR, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. With VR, the user is isolated from the real world while immersed in a world that is completely fabricated. As it stands, VR might work better for video games and social networking in a virtual environment, such as Second Life, or even PlayStation Home.
Which technology will succeed?
As it stands, augmented reality is ahead of virtual reality, as there are several products already on the market. We are witnessing the rise of AR hardware devices from Google in the form of Glass, and also plans from Microsoft to launch something similar with its $150 million purchase for wearable computing assets.
On the matter of VR, the technology is just stepping up to the plate. It's still far away from being this great thing for social encounters in a virtual world, but with the rise of the Oculus Rift, it is getting there. Also, VR is still a more B2B product than mass-consumption one (companies already train high-dangerous jobs in Virtual Reality).
We believe both AR and VR will succeed; however, AR might have more commercial success though, because it does not completely take people out of the real world.