One of the hottest tech trends is the growing world of immersive technology. These days, gaming and app companies are attempting to put users deeper within the context of their digital environments than ever before, and there have been some amazing advancements in technology that are enabling this push.
Immersive technology isn’t just fun and games, there are many ways that this type of experience can help bolster your business.
Two areas of immersive technology that are currently getting a lot of attention are augmented reality and virtual reality, commonly referred to as AR and VR. You’ve probably heard both of these terms but perhaps you aren’t quite sure what the difference is between them. While similar, and very useful in their own ways, they are quite distinct. Let’s break down the differences between the two and decide if it’s time for your business to start using one (or both) of them.
Let’s start with augmented reality. It’s exactly what it sounds like: the reality that we live in is augmented, or added to. But how?
Usually, a user activates their phone’s camera through an app, and the app incorporates additional elements into what is already shown in the camera’s viewer. These elements could be creatures (Pokémon GO), cosmetic enhancements (Snapchat or Instagram filters), tattoos (Ink Hunter), or even real-time translations (Google Translate).
As the less immersive of these two technologies, AR requires less hardware than VR and is generally easier for end users to get accustomed to since it relies almost entirely on the real world. It’s also more accessible than VR since all the gear you need in order to enjoy an AR experience is a mobile device, and most people have at least one of those already.
So then what exactly is virtual reality? As the name implies, it’s not actual reality at all, but simply a virtual representation of it – where users are immersed into an environment without any real-world interaction. A wide array of devices are available to provide virtual reality experiences to users, from more basic options like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear to fully interactive headsets like Oculus or HTC Vive. Gloves and remotes are also part of some VR experiences.
Every aspect of a virtual reality experience is programmed from the ground up. Virtual reality interfaces can be tailored for almost any purpose, from in-depth gaming to learning how to repair a small engine or operate on a human heart. This can lead to a far more engaging experience than what’s provided by augmented reality.
As you can imagine, there are a host of different uses for both AR and VR, with boundaries based almost entirely on human imagination. New applications are being released all the time to take advantage of both augmented and virtual reality, and we’ve only just started to scratch the surface of what’s possible.