The difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is quite simple, in VR you can swim underwater with dolphins in a more immersive situation. With AR you can watch the dolphins jump out of your sink.
If you asked a group of people about Augmented Reality, you’d probably get some mixed reactions but the majority would be a positive; ‘Technology can only move forward.’ While that is accurate, I have to wonder if the introduction of widespread AR would really change the way we live our lives that much.
The movie Ready Player One was released earlier this year and gave viewers the opportunity to imagine what AR could do to enhance their gameplay and it really does use some incredible technology, but the players were more invested in the gameplay than their actual lives which surely isn't something we as a nation want to happen. Surprisingly enough there are working prototypes of some of the headsets and AR machinery used within the film.
I recently discovered the YouTube channel ‘Smarter Every Day' and his videos where he discusses Augmented Reality, specifically ‘A Real Life Haptic Glove.’ ‘A Dragon touched my Hand’ and his AR video ‘The Infinadeck’ and the technology displayed in these videos is simply outstanding. The mere idea of wearing a headset and a glove and physically being able to pick something up that isn’t really there and to feel as if it is, is as astonishing as it is fast approaching. Of course, you could just go outside and actually pick up a stick or spider, but it’s simply not the same as standing in your room and holding a fox in the palm of your hand.
There is a company based in California called Infinadeck and they currently have a working prototype of what they call The Infinadeck. The Infinadeck is an AR headset/harness connected to an omnidirectional treadmill. This combination of technology allows players to immerse themselves into an alternate reality both mentally and physically, just like the in the movie Ready Player One. When they move their feet in the physical world, the player’s avatar takes the same steps in the Augmented Reality while the omnidirectional treadmill works to keep you centred at all times ensuring safe gameplay.
The contents in these videos fascinated me and for the first time, I honestly believed VR could be big one day. Don't believe me? Why not check out the video above for yourself? The idea of being able to fully immerse myself into a fictional world while walking on a treadmill at home sounds extremely exciting. Of course, for a set up like that, it would cost a large amount of money so it will probably be years before technology like The Infinadeck would be available for public release but it doesn’t make it any less intriguing a concept.
There are rumours that Apple is in the process of creating their own VR headset that will have AR capabilities and it could potentially be available for release as early as 2020. Of course, these plans could get pushed back or scrapped all together over the next few years but it’s still something worth mentioning. There is a wide range of AR and VR glasses on the market, including Google glasses. Some are more reasonably priced than others, but none have caused a massive ripple.
The biggest step forward in AR was with the July 2016 launch of Pokémon GO which was a worldwide phenomenon and had such an impact Niantic Inc had to push back release dates outside of the US to cope with the intense traffic. Pokémon GO made the news, everyone was talking about it, even my friends and I went out on Pokémon walks but do you still use it now? I don’t, none of the people I asked still use it, some of them don’t even have it on their phones anymore which begs the question; could AR nothing but a fad? Pokémon GO was great when it came out, but it soon disappeared into obscurity.
The technology these companies are working on could be on their way to consumers one day and though it could completely revolutionise the way we play games and open a completely brand new avenue of marketing will it really change our every day lives indefinitely? It seems like we’re going to have to wait for technology to catch up to find out.