In some of the coverage of augmented and virtual reality, it feels like there are efforts to make it a “versus”: AR vs. VR, like one has to win and the other has to lose. But even though the most basic fundamentals of the technologies are similar – a graphical overlay that is directed at a single user’s experience, and that moves according to the physical movements of the user – they’re actually very different technologies.
While both can feel immersive, only one (VR) is definitely immersive, as in, the goal is to minimize other inputs. The visor eliminates other visual inputs, and often comes with headphones to control auditory inputs. In the Samsung 837 Experience in New York, VR users stand on platforms that vibrate or rock, to give movement inputs as well. Studies are starting to show that people accept VR inputs with the same visceral reactions as real life, bringing new dimensions of care to people withpost-traumatic stress disorder to phobias to end of life.
AR, on the other hand, requires interaction with reality – it is an overlay of virtual onto the physical world, with the intent of creating interesting interactions between the two. Eliminating other inputs actually reduces what AR can deliver.
So it shouldn’t be a case of AR versus VR, like VHS vs. Beta, but just because one technology is good for one application does not mean the other will work just as well. Which is why, in retail, it seems to be shaping up that AR will have more consumer applications, while VR will have more management applications.
Here’s a round-up of some of the innovations in each.
AR for Consumers:
What does it look like in my home?