Virtual reality and, to a lesser extent, augmented reality have the connotation of mostly being about entertainment. The current selection of VR and AR experiences, plus the media and buzz surrounding them, do reinforce that misconception. That is why proponents like Google are trying to push new experiences that give these technologies a more serious tone. Like AR Expeditions, a “spinoff” of its VR-centric Google Expeditions, that utilize augmented reality for educational purposes. It might not be a game, but it can still be just as fun.
In the context of Google Expeditions, VR and AR work in opposite directions. Expeditions started out with a VR bent, allowing users, mostly students, to put on a headset and be technomagically transported to places they would otherwise never be able to visit. In contrast, AR Expeditions bring those places, or objects from those places, to you instead.
The addition of 100 augmented reality tours in Google Expeditions means that students won’t have to settle for flat images of animals they’d only see in books or TV. Of course, they can still bring in actual “flat” objects, like art pieces you’d have to pay hundreds dollars to see up close. Or how about exploring the human skeleton without having the actual frightening thing before you.
Of course, sometimes having the real thing is better when it comes to touching and interacting with it and of course you can’t easily do that with mobile AR. Especially since at least one of your hands will be busy holding the smartphone. On the flip side, that also means you won’t need specialized equipment to experience the tours, just your smartphone, be it an Android or iOS, as long as the device supports ARCore or ARKit, respectively.