Putting a qualifier before the word reality is dubious as it is but when we specifically talk about virtual reality, scepticism gets particularly pronounced. Why? This is because virtual reality isn’t reality at all. It is an alternate digital bubble that feels real but isn’t. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is inferior to other visual technologies, it’s just the applications will remain limited to certain consumer niches like gaming, the adult-genre and on-site interactive experiences.
That being said, augmented reality does not create an alternate world. Instead, it enhances the experience of the reality you are already in. This difference provides unique opportunities that virtual reality is not able to provide.
“My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see,” (Tim Cook, CEO Apple)
Currently, the hardware required to enable a virtual reality experience lacks a practical delivery method and can be quite unwieldy, forcing consumers to use giant and heavy headsets and at times tracking devices and complementing gadgets. In contrast, augmented reality can be experienced with far more portable hardware like Google Glass and to a lesser degree, like your smartphone.
Enhancing the World You Live In
Virtual reality experiences can be extraordinarily interactive and fun but they aren’t really grounded in the real world. On the contrary, augmented reality works in tandem with your existing reality striving to improve upon the overall convenience and quality of your life.
Augmented reality is already shaping up to be a future of productivity with holographic workspace concepts being conceptualized and demoed. This will completely disrupt how we approach our work, since workspaces will become increasingly portable as stereoscopic 3D graphics eliminate the need for physical hardware.
Resume Your Life
One of the most crucial distinguishing features of augmented reality is its ability to keep you in your reality. Instead of creating a parallel universe, it simply augments what is already there. This allows you to stay connected to the world you are in and continue your daily activities without much ado. Having said that, if you are indulged in a virtual reality experience, that is all you can do.
As technology continues to advance the practical application of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual realities will most likely blend into a “mixed reality” reducing the need for multiple devices. As it stands today, augmented looks to be the technology we’ll be using to enhance the world around us, and virtual will continue to provide a fun escape.
Consumer adoption is dictated by trends and reducing friction points. VR and AR are definitely trendy, but both have friction points that prevent mass adoption. The reality of VR in 2018 is the barrier to entry is still too high for the average punter. You need a dedicated space, headset, paddles, camera and computer with enough horse power for a reliable 4k VR experience. Whereas AR is available from my iPhone that is in my pocket. Friction points still exist for AR, but are much less of a barrier for the end consumer” (Luke H , Online Strategy Consultant)