Have you ever wondered what it would be like to immerse yourself in a different world, or to enhance your perception of reality with digital information? If so, you might be interested in learning more about Virtual reality and augmented reality, two technologies that are changing the way we interact with the world. In this blog post, I will explain what VR and AR are, how they work, what opportunities they offer, and what issues they face. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of these technologies and their potential impact on our future.
Virtual reality and augmented reality
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality is an amazing technology that lets you experience different worlds and scenarios as if you were really there. It works by using special devices, such as headsets, controllers, gloves, and sensors, that track your movements and create realistic images and sounds in front of your eyes and ears. You can explore, interact, and have fun with virtual reality in many ways, such as playing games, watching movies, learning new skills, or traveling to distant places.
In virtual reality, you are transported into a different location, or at least, that is what we manipulate our senses to believe. ie, you see an entirely new world through the VR goggles and can interact with the elements, such as feeling the weight of objects when picking up. You get 360-degree video, audio, etc. Some examples include the metaverse and other metaverse clones. In essence, VR is analogous to transporting you to a game world.
Some examples of VR applications are:
- Gaming: VR games allow players to experience immersive and realistic gameplay in various genres, such as action, adventure, horror, sports, etc.
- Education: VR can be used to create interactive and engaging learning experiences for students of all ages and levels. For example, VR can simulate historical events, scientific experiments, or cultural tours.
- Entertainment: VR can provide new ways of enjoying movies, concerts, art, or other forms of media. For example, VR can create 360-degree videos that let viewers explore different perspectives and scenes.
- Healthcare: VR can help patients cope with pain, anxiety, phobias, or other mental health issues by providing a distraction, relaxation, or exposure therapy. For example, VR can simulate soothing environments or challenging situations that help patients overcome their fears.
How to use VR/ VR headsets?
First, you need to buy a VR headset, and there are two ways to do it. either you can get a cheap VR headset, that takes in your phone as a display, which is decent, but much cheaper than the other option, which we will get to in a minute. These headphones start for as low as 600, and you will get a good comfortable pair for as low as 2000. I suggest something like the Procus one-x due to good seller ratings, as most are rebranded versions of the same headset.
Otherwise, if you have enough money, you can get a real VR experience, with something like the Meta Quest 2 pro, which is much more realistic, doesn’t require a Phone, and is much sharper, with more features dedicated to the sole purpose of giving the best VR experience. it has a speaker near your ears to give realistic 3D audio, comfortable memory from contacts with your skin, etc. However, it will also cost significantly higher.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality is a technology that overlays digital information on top of the real environment. It uses devices such as smartphones, tablets, glasses, or projectors to display images, text, videos, or other data in the user’s field of view. The user can still see the real environment and interact with it. but animated objects are overlayed on top of the real world so that it seems they are real when viewed through mobile camera/AR glass etc. this is a much more mature concept than VR, as the complexity, as well as required hardware level, are much lower for AR when compared to VR.
Some examples of AR applications are:
- Navigation: AR can provide directions and information for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, or tourists. For example, AR can show arrows on the road, landmarks on the map, or reviews on buildings.
- Shopping: AR can help customers visualize products before buying them online or in-store. For example, AR can show how furniture would look in their home, how clothes would fit on their body, or how the makeup would suit their face.
- Gaming: AR games allow players to experience fun and immersive gameplay in their real surroundings. For example, AR can create virtual characters or objects that interact with the physical environment.
- Education: AR can enhance learning by providing additional information or feedback for students. For example, AR can show labels on anatomical models, translations of foreign texts, or corrections on homework.
How to use AR?
Unlike VR, you don’t need to spend a large sum to experience AR, even though spending some will definitely improve the experience greatly. Most Android/IOS phones currently support AR, and can be used through many apps available through Playstore/App Store, for example,
- Just a Line (Android, iOS: Free): This app lets you draw in the air with your finger or a stylus, and share your creations with others. You can also collaborate with friends in real-time and see each other’s drawings.
- Google Lens (Android, iOS: Free): This app uses your camera to identify objects, animals, plants, landmarks, and more. You can also scan texts, translate languages, copy numbers, and access useful information.
- Google Maps (Android, iOS: Free): This app helps you navigate the world with turn-by-turn directions, live traffic updates, and transit information. You can also use the Live View feature to see arrows and directions overlaid on your camera view.
- Mission to Mars AR (Android, iOS: Free): This app lets you explore the surface of Mars with a virtual rover. You can drive around, collect samples, conduct experiments, and learn about the red planet.
- Civilisations AR (Android, iOS: Free): This app brings history to life with 3D models of ancient artifacts from different cultures and eras. You can view them in detail, rotate them, and learn about their stories and significance.
- Quiver (Android, iOS: Free): This app transforms coloring pages into animated 3D scenes. You can print out the pages from the app’s website, color them with your favorite tools, and then scan them with the app to see them come to life.
What are the opportunities with VR and AR?
VR and AR offer many opportunities for innovation and improvement in various fields and industries. Some of the benefits of these technologies are:
- They can create immersive and engaging experiences that stimulate the senses and emotions of the users.
- They can provide access to information and resources that are otherwise unavailable or difficult to obtain in the real world.
- They can enhance communication and collaboration among people who are geographically distant or culturally diverse.
- They can improve productivity and efficiency by reducing errors and costs and increasing speed and quality.
- They can support personal development and well-being by providing entertainment, education, health care, or social interaction.
What are the issues with VR and AR?
VR and AR also face some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed before they can reach their full potential. Some of the issues with these technologies are:
- They require high-performance hardware and software that are expensive and complex to develop and maintain.
- They depend on reliable internet connection and data security that are not always available or guaranteed.
- They pose ethical and legal questions regarding privacy, ownership, consent, regulation, etc.
- They may cause physical or psychological side effects such as nausea, dizziness, eye strain, addiction, isolation, etc.
In conclusion, virtual reality and augmented reality are two of the most exciting and innovative technologies that are transforming the way we interact with the world. They offer endless possibilities for entertainment, education, communication, and more. They also pose some challenges and risks that need to be addressed and overcome. As these technologies become more accessible and affordable, we can expect to see more applications and use cases that will enrich our lives and enhance our experiences. Virtual reality and augmented reality are not just the future of technology, they are the present and the future of humanity.