The Lesser Known Augmented Reality
In recent years, Virtual Reality has dominated digitech headlines – infiltrating almost every sector of retail, health, fashion and food. Highlighting itself as a diverse, innovative and exciting new development, the concept has challenged the way that consumers interact with technology and style.
However, before VR launched itself into media bulletins across the world, the lesser known form of AR, or Augmented Reality, was already making headway into the virtual space.
What Is Augmented Reality
Rather than replacing the real world with a simulated alternative, like VR, Augmented Reality enhances the current space around the user, and adjusts it for a deeper, 3D illusion.
From small scale imagery, say a colour-changing sign or icon in a room, to an animated animal walking across the user’s palm, AR is designed to be used on an individual level to be used domestically for entertainment and gaming purposes – yet is rapidly evolving to serve other, more diverse purposes in tech.
Who Uses Augmented Reality
Perhaps the most obvious example of Augmented Reality is last year’s popular gaming app ‘Pokemon Go’. With the ability to simulate an ‘extra layer’ of animation onto the everyday surroundings as viewed through a mobile, the floating Pokeballs, miniature Pokemon and interactive real-time map brought AR app design into the 21st century.
A more current example has to be social sharing app Snapchat. With a selection of AR additions to the mobile camera such as the ‘dog filter’ ‘dancing hot dog’ and ‘geo locations’, the movement and facial recognition sensors add a 3D dimension to the standard ‘snap’ service. As of March 2017, Snapchat accumulated over 100 million users, with the millennial generations proving to be the most lucrative in terms of in-app purchases. From these figures alone, it would appear that the domestic AR uses are an inarguable selling point in the technology sector.
What are the benefits of AR over VR
Whilst Virtual Reality does carry several key advantages over Augmented Reality in terms of immersion and the experience of ‘escaping reality’, from a production perspective, AR is likely to be the developer’s choice.
At a significantly lower cost than VR, AR required no additional equipment, such as headsets or goggles, and can be activated through portable handheld devices, i.e. mobile phones and tablets. This means that more consumers have the ability to access and interact with their AR applications, creating a more personalised experience for the user.
When considering both platforms from a point of entertainment, both do have their merits. The intensively all-consuming immersive purpose of virtual reality makes the act of gaming more interactive and user-directed. Gaming worlds can become reality, and the sensory experience can be all the more driven by the exclusion of the ‘outer world’, showcasing a significant advantage of VR. However, the ability to enhance your current surroundings and upgrade them to include exciting creatures, landscapes and storyworlds is a unique and engaging feature that really does have the potential to modernise the future of gaming.
So why should we re-estimate AR
With big players in the tech community like Apple, Nintendo and Sony already leading the charge into Augmented Reality, the markets of AR are becoming increasingly diverse and saturated with innovation.
There are so many avenues and fresh takes on the standard principles of AR that developers are open and ready to build worlds around the platform, enhancing gaming, entertainment and experience-led journeys for the better.
AR is no longer the ‘little brother of VR’. It has carved out its own niche in the technology sector and is producing fast, fun and exhilarating products that consumers really are enjoying. And, with more and more industries taking on the challenge of Augmented Reality, who knows where it might go next?