Since the early 2010s, AR and VR technologies went from being a gimmick to an emerging technology that could be an essential new industry in the upcoming 4th industrial revolution. First thing first, AR and VR are different. While the core of their technology could seem similar at first, their uses differ. AR (Augmented Reality) adds digital rendering to a live view to imitate it as being in the user’s physical space. Think of Pokémon Go or IG filters. The technology is having a breakthrough in the times of COVID-19, real-estate moguls are using the technology to host virtual showcases of their rental property, and in more impactful uses, AR is being used to train new surgeons. AR is more popular amongst mega-corporations. It’s less expensive to implement because it doesn’t need any equipment, aside from a smartphone or laptop to view the digital objects on, for the technology to work.
VR (Virtual Reality) is more complex than AR. VR is a term used to describe a computer-generated environment in which users can interact and explore. The goal of VR is to transport the user to another world to trick the mind of the person using the technology into thinking the virtual world is real. VR technology, unlike AR, is more interactive, requiring some form of head-set and interactive gloves. You will often see VR used in videogames or inexpensive tourist guides. However, the implications of VR, likewise to AR are vast.
Thanks to the hyper-realistic environments it can create, VR has seen increased use in military training, mental-health wellness, and training law enforcement. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, VR has gained renewed fame due to its possible uses in virtual offices and presentations.
XR (Mixed Reality)
Along with AR and VR, there is a new technology that is growing alongside them, often called XR (Mixed Reality). Some consider XR to be too “experimental,” thus it lacks a proper definition. XR is the idea of taking the best parts of AR and intermixing it with VR. The idea that the intermixture of these two technologies could create a world that will be difficult to distinguish between real-life and virtual life. One goal of XR technology is making a virtual object that looks perfectly in place to the real-world environment that it borders on photorealism. Computer scientists have stated that the issue with having proper ray-tracing reflections and highly detailed 3D objects in a virtual world is computational power. However, in the next 3-4 years, taking the current fast evolution of technology now, we could see XR becoming more mainstream.
The technology of the future.
Companies have been pouring billions into developing better AR/VR devices for their companies. As the race for AR/VR supremacy continues, the technology could become ingrained into our lives in the next 4-5 years.