A decade ago, the idea of walking into an entirely different world to play a game sounded like a myth. In 2016, that concept was made real -- with virtual and augmented reality. With the help of virtual reality, you’ve seen hundreds of people playing Pokémon Go around our communities. With the help of virtual reality, you’ve also seen Facebook and YouTube users embrace the 360-degree video. Augmented and virtual reality technology is paving the way for more integrated technology.
What does AR and VR mean?
AR stands for Augmented Reality. It's when 3D animated graphics have been placed overtop what you see in the real world. In other words, AR brings virtual elements into the real world. You can see augmented reality in real-time playing Pokemon Go. This popular AR game let's you catch Pokémon monsters on your sidewalk, in your yard, or at work.
VR stands for Virtual Reality. With this technology, you can immerse yourself in a full 360-degree virtual worldview. In other words, VR brings people into a virtual world. VR has been a common tech term used for decades, and many people thought it was an imaginary technology. Only recently has it been actively marketed to the public.
Fortunately, for those of us who don't understand the mechanics of virtual technology, YouTube and Facebook create VR videos that teleport viewers to an entirely different world.
The AR and VR experience
Both VR and AR have limited applications, though. Lucky for you, your smartphone is the easiest tool to access this technology. Many people use a headset device with their smartphone for an immersive virtual experience.
Despite being bulky headwear, the VR headset made waves in the gaming world. Oculus, one of the top VR companies in the industry, created a headset that works with specific smartphones (Samsung Gear VR) and gaming systems (HTC Vive).
For decades, this video game world was trapped behind a TV screen. Yet, with the HTC Vive headset and its touch controllers, the player participates in a virtual world. A range of HTC Vive games are still in development.
AR headsets made their mainstream debut with Google Glass in early 2013. With this wearable augmented reality, the user wears glasses that feature a tiny screen. Because of low interest and sales, Google Glass was removed from the market in 2015. But the concept has continued feeding into recent AR developments. In the summer of 2016, the AR conversation revived with the release of Pokémon Go.
At Lenovo’s 2016 Tech World conference, developers introduced Project Tango software. You can create your dream home, play games, and create fantastic wonderlands with this cutting-edge software -- all on your smartphone.
The AR/VR Future
History has proven that we believe technology makes life easier. Examples include the technology featured in the futuristic original Star Trek, the endless gadgets drawn into any episode of the Jetsons, or even futuristic drawings by people at the 1912 World's Fair. With this in mind, AR and VR technology has moved humanity closer to the "easy life".
But instead of just leaving this breakthrough technology as-is, industry leaders still ask: “Where can we take augmented and virtual reality?” Regardless of what we do with this technology, AR and VR have already changed the way we see the world. To see the virtual world around you, visit your neighborhood TCC store to get your hands on some AR or VR technology.