How VR and AR Are Changing Everything You Think You Know

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The big question that must first be answered is: What is the difference between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)?

  • Virtual Reality (VR) – (Also known as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated life) – replicates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds and lets the user interact in that world. Virtual reality artificially creates sensory experiences, which can include sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) – is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer.

Remember when Virtual Reality was all the rage in the 90s?  It was recently spoofed on the show Community in a show titled “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care“.  VR has come a long way in that time with the introduction of AR as well.  Brendan Iribe, the CEO of Oculus, a VR startup that was bought for $2 billion by Facebook in 2014, describes VR as a “hack on the human sensory system”.

Microsoft recently introduced their AR viewing device known as the Halo Lens.  Microsoft has promised a lot with this device, but it is still in the development phase.  Hopefully they will avoid a lot of the pitfalls and false starts that Google has had with their AR device known as Google Glass.

Virtual Reality Used For Education:
Jazmin Cano, co-founder of VR gaming company Winistry explains how Virtual Reality (VR) can be used to help with education.

Picture this: You’re a ninth grade student enrolled in a mandatory biology course, and science is not your forte. Every time you sit down in class and watch the daily PowerPoint lecture, you struggle to follow the teacher and walk out realizing you captured pages of notes, but no real understanding of the subject matter. It’s frustrating.
However, one day, you find a VR headset sitting at each table, and your teacher explains that today you’ll learn about the inner workings of the human bloodstream. You put on the headset, and the next thing you know, you’re flying through the bloodstream. You see cells passing by, and there’s even a little guy guiding you through the session, explaining each variable you’re interacting with as it passes.

Augmented Reality Used For Gaming:
Then there is the exciting world of AR gaming.  Take for example this Augmented Reality Game (ARG) known as Night Terrors.  Here’s an immersive game for your iPhone that’s guaranteed to scare the living crap out of you.  As augmented reality, the game incorporates your actual home environment and composites in creatures and haunting activities to appear as if they are really happening in your house!  It doesn’t get more simulated real than that.  Imagine seeing and hearing an axe murderer right in your own kitchen.  This game really is taking terror to a new level.  Take a look at the video below to see what this new type of game is capable of.

Night Terrors uses your phone camera to make a map of your entire home and then uses augmented reality to place ghosts and demons on your phone and seemingly in your house (when you hold the camera just right).  And that’s not all — the game will even scan things like art on your walls, so it can push the objects around and even drop them (on camera, of course), lending even more reality to this fantasy game.  It’s crazy ambitious and insanely frightening.

With all of these new innovations occurring in VR and AR, it’s easy to see why Facebook snapped up Oculus as an integral part of Facebook’s future.  And if Night Terrors is any indication of the type of AR games to come, then the future of gaming is truly terrifying.

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