Jamiroquai was right.
The inevitable VR vs AR SHOWDOWN. Technology is at a beautiful, futuristic stage right now that has left a lot of options open for us. We’ve hit “peak phone” in terms of power and performance. GPUs that would’ve been worth over a grand 3 years ago are less than a quarter of that price. And the Deep Web is accessible to anyone who’s just interested in it.
But, most importantly, the tech that will be taking over our lives for many years to come will be Virtual Reality(VR) and Augmented Reality(AR). And to be honest: We’re lucky to live in a time where our new technology is so much fun to both enjoy and work in. So much so that I’ve shifted my career towards these fields.
So we have to ask: Which is better?
We’re setting up a 9 Round Battle where we look at the best new tech from each side of the industry.
Shopping in a VR Landscape can change any desire you’ve had in the past to go to a mall by making a simulated environment at home with exclusivity that tailors itself to your needs. Imagine shopping without a crying baby, an uncomfortable retail rep, long lines or taking 30 minutes to find parking.
Instead, this version of shopping in a mall will have you being escorted through a Nike store with a VR version of an NBA Champ. The stores will be far larger now that rented retail space is a thing of the past. Products will be endless and you’ll still have full demos of them. With 3D scanning, items will be rendered in high-definition for you to pick-up, observe and, on some occasions, demo their advertisements. And with Customer Service in VR, you will have a more intimate experience with your rep as you are exclusively in conversations with them about any product at any given time.
Augmented Reality will definitely benefit those who still have a very comfortable and fond preference to the social mall experience. While VR brings the experience to you, the tech of AR will be able to meet you on larger scale, outdoor ventures. Products like the Magic Mirror featured above has the ability to show you outfits on your person without ever needing a changing room. Food Tracer only requires you to have your phone scan a product within the store you’re choosing to buy from. Not only will price appear, but stats (such as calories, nutrition, history, recipes, etc.) will be provided for your selected item. And for those with needs such as hardware, furniture or even Legos, you could scan an item with a separate application (Vuforia) and witness a three-dimensional hologram of the finished item before you purchase.
I think even those of us who aren’t well-versed in tech still know that this is one of the main reasons why this software was developed. The ability to explore and be involved with far, exotic environments while on your break at lunch or at the tail-end of a bad day is euphoric. This gives you the opportunity to meditate on a mountain, explore the bottle of the ocean, experience a party in Rio or go spelunking in an exotic cave. There are already apps on the market, such as Ximodo or Full Dive that are working towards developing a full film experience similar to Netflix for their users. And content creation is also becoming more accessible with cheaper, high-quality 360 cameras, such as the Samsung Gear 360.
Once again, AR has been created to bring the tech with you on the go. As of right now, Yelp Monocle is getting closer to being released on the market. If you choose this option at the bottom of the app, it will activate your camera to point and click on the locations you’re interested and immediately pull up reviews, websites, contact info, etc. And the king of the travel market has certainly been Wikitude, which has excelled at collecting all of the data from many sites and apps that hold localized info so they can direct you to the next “hot spot” in your destination.
To say that VR is dominating this particular category is an understatement. While traveling in videos is exciting, the gaming world has taken the environment immersion and made you an active character within that world. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have charged full speed into gaming culture, but require hardware specs that aren’t affordable to an average consumer. But, an accessible gateway has been made on phone apps and will be available on the PS VR this fall.
And speaking of accessibility through the phone, NextVR will be bringing live sportscasts directly to your mobile devices. The experience of being front row at a live event will only require a Google Cardboard and a nice pair of headphones.
Gaming in AR will mostly consist of being (you guessed it) mobile. While being an experimental tech demo in the past for some apps, we’re seeing the technology becoming stronger with the addition of major publishers releasing games like Pokemon Go that require the user to explore their environment to advance. It will enhance the physical, outdoor experience for the user and introduce gaming in new forms.
And of course, there’s the now-famous Microsoft Hololens demo that turned an entire room into an alien battlefield:
4. Interior Design:
One of the funnest features that has been caught into the virtual reality phase has been the world of interior design. Decorilla is introducing ways for designers to get a full mapping of your apartment, collect things about your interest and render a full VR map of your redesigned home for you to experience in VR. This reduces cost, enhances perspective and improves the customer experience to find their own style.
Kudos to Decorilla for actually knocking it out of the park twice in their field. While some may enjoy being immersed in the new demo of their home, others may like a more hands-on feel for simply using your camera to show your environment with these improved changes. You’ll see digital versions of the room right in front of you as you explore your new home.
5. Civil Services:
I didn’t add a video to this because, let’s be honest: This dips into Metal Gear Solid-like levels of creepiness. But, it does create environmental/situational combat experiences that will improve the skills of soldiers at a low cost. The intensity, difficulty and overall nature of combat may not be perfectly captured, but it will teach you how and when to react with the best outcome in these situations.
Speaking of which, can we make Virtra a requirement for every American law enforcement officer? This Training experience can build entire environments around the user and teach them when/if their firearm should be used.
Once again, AG is applied as a tool to be used on the field. ODG‘s Smart Glasses are designed to have three data collecting cameras on the helmet of the soldier. Meanwhile, there will be a set of glasses that will have a HUD (Heads Up Display) similar to a video game that can identify targets, give distance, weather information and combat field data.
6. Social Media:
It’s no secret that the lead investors of the premiere headset, the Oculus Rift, is social media site Facebook. So, they must be working hard on integrating their features into a powerful, social, killer-app, right? Yeah, not so much…
Cyber Selfies (pictured above) have been introduced. This will be the users creating animated, rendered models of themselves and placing each other into the same environment. Interaction details have been sparse, but there’s a selfie stick right there….
Thankfully, we still have vTime, which is the primary social app for Gear VR and Google Cardboard. The rendered models are far more attractive and the environments to choose from are actually quite comfortable. The experience still needs some tweaking, but before we can combine some features of both applications, they both need to hone in and perfect what makes them each great.
The world has already been introduced to AR in a major way through Snapchat‘s features of face swapping and augmentations. But, now we’re at a point where we can… well… Please just watch the video below. To say any more is to spoil how amazing this technology will be in improving our lives:
7. Job Training:
The educational field will be revolutionized in extraordinary ways to bring experiences to users who are still learning. It can take stressful jobs like piloting (above) or surgery and help students train successfully without major consequences. It can also help show how far a student is in their training or what is necessary for them to prepare to reach a new career. And for the younger crowds: a high school classroom will have the opportunity to be transported into different moments in history, which means gaining experiences instead of just memorizing textbook theory.
Epson Moverio BT-200 is an amazing device you not have heard of. It is a pair smart glasses designed to look at mechanisms that it is familiar with and find solutions to fixing them. By taking templates online, it can help the user identify where there may be flaws or damages that would require repairs to mechanisms. It can also be used for entertainment purposes, such as searching the web or simply relaxing on the couch and watching videos. It’s leading competitor, Microsoft Hololens can create an augmented reality version of foreign landscapes that are dangerous, such as Mars, for researchers to practice in. While wearing the lens, researchers can walk amongst the hologram’s projection and explore their subjects.
Throughout this article, I’ve remained neutral on which side I choose is superior. And I haven’t developed a grading system. And reason why is pretty simple: We need both. VR can prepare someone for certain obstacles and experiences, while eliminating x-factors to solve certain issues in the outside world. And AR can give us an advantage while being on the move, providing information, and globalization data.
Whoever wins this argument won’t truly matter because we are absolutely winning, right now. These aren’t tech demos from the future. These are products that are ready and available today. No matter who you are or what your stance is on the present issues or current events, take a moment to enjoy the fact that you live in the future. And there are quite a few things to get pretty excited about.