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Virtual vs. Augmented Reality – We boldly go where no one has gone before

Last month, we discussed the Device Mesh, the new connections to our devices – “The web of wearable and mobile devices people use to find information or to communicate, as our professional and personal lives mesh together.” As the future is here, our reality has changed. It is now virtual and augmented. Virtual & Augmented Reality – What are the differences?

As technology is improving rapidly, so is the dominance of virtual and augmented realities. They are both similar in immersing the user, but there are differences.

Virtual Reality uses 3D images and audio created by a computer or electronic devices worn by the user that simulates an environment. It totally blocks your view, by using electronic glasses or a head-mounted helmet. The screen portrays the image as well as sounds. Virtual Reality is often for Gamers and Simulators.

Augmented Reality is a technology that layers computer generated information and images onto the screen in a real world environment, shown on specialised equipment, applications or devices. For example, a print advertisement that triggers a 3D video when smartphone users point their camera.

While Virtual Reality is an experience of a computer generated virtual environment, Augmented Reality is a real environment, but extended with information and imagery, bridging the gap between real and virtual seamlessly.

The Future is virtually where?

By the end of 2016, there’ll be eight billion mobile phone connections worldwide. One in four will be a smartphone. As our connected devices, smartphones and tablets offer us higher resolution displays and powerful processors, so will opportunities to be transported from the real world into a digital world become a reality.  Just by putting on a headset.

From virtual shopping to architecture, journalism to education and training, Virtual Reality will be an immersive experience. Failures like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy back in 1990, will be a distant memory. Future projections suggest that by 2020 Virtual Reality will generate over 30 billion dollars in revenue. Virtual Reality is about to cross over from tech ‘geeks’ and gamers to the mainstream.

The big winner though is Augmented Reality.  Its share of the virtual pie by 2020 is projected to be 120 billion dollars. It will transform the way we can think about information through experience. Whether a mundane or practical application, like medical information on a patient or taking situational awareness information in an emergency situation, it makes it possible to create augmented reality experiences by using standard web technologies. Businesses and corporations, as well as educational institutions, can build and create a mobile augmented reality experience. For business, both AR and VR realities will find a welcoming home whether it be in fields as diverse as medical, engineering, gaming and entertainment, or education and training.

What’s the buzz?

Virtual and Augmented Reality is the source of growing buzz in the business and education world. As we go to print, Nintendo’s immersive augmented reality Pokémon game Pokémon Go is whipping up a frenzy as game players become wannabe trainers exploring the real world finding their ‘mates’ along the way. A major Supermarket chain has recognised the intense interest and are encouraging people to come to their stores to search for ‘Pikachu’.  Within days of release, Nintendo shares have jumped 25%. Such is the market response to the technology and those who embrace it.

As the business world needs to engage people to get their message across, interacting with content is now the way forward. Using Augmented Reality Food packaging, shown on a device, could inform the consumer about its nutrition, price, special diet information, and other imagery, offering a different type of experience than the usual shopping trip. Products can speak to customers through deals, sales, and speciality nights, reducing everything around us to information, letting the device do the mental arithmetic. In the Real Estate field, Virtual Reality will create a whole new meaning for the term Open for Inspection as a virtual walk through a property becomes the new normal.

In the medical field, both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies can improve health care outcomes.  Augmented reality will allow better and more accurate information, for example better management of medication dosage for doctors and their patients, while Virtual Reality can help train doctors to be better surgeons. Psychologists can use Virtual Reality as an aid to treat phobias, and it is already used to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorde

The Reality of Education and Training

With Augmented Reality, the connection of the physical world to the digital world of devices allows a different way to engage while Virtual Reality opens up whole new worlds to see. In education and training, both Virtual and Augmented Realities allow greater learning opportunities.

Imagine walking through the Museum of London using their immersive augmented app, giving you an image of what happened in history, at that exact location with pictorial overlays. With Augmented Reality, it is about 3D models, imagery, animations and simple video on a page.  A powerful way to tell a story.

Virtual Reality can also allow for enhanced education. A field trip to the Great Pyramids of Egypt right from the classroom, without having to go anywhere. Being immersed in the virtual surroundings. The Virtual Reality Learning Experience, zSpace, takes learning to the next level and students on adventures. Students can go from sights and sounds of Ancient Rome to the internal landscape of the Human Digestive System, all in 3D with facts and figures along the way. No textbooks required. It is transforming and accelerating education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Virtual Reality for education and training. It is where the Virtual and Augmented Realities collide.

Where will the new Realities take you?