Augmented reality is about superimposing images/videos etc on to reality. Take for example the game Pokemon Go. Players would try to collect pokemon from the world. You keep walking and you see a Pokemon here and then there. The idea is to collect as many pokemon as possible. Now, this is made possible by GPS (Global Positioning System) and an image overlay. If you walk into a movie complex, you may have seen some images which are projected (say Mario running) which seems to be projecting from the wall. This is another example of Augmented reality. You may use glasses or goggles to give you say a 3-D feel. Have you seen holograms? They are another example of Augmented reality. The precursor to this was 360-degree videos which help you pan the whole area under the camera. Check out YouTube if you haven’t seen a 360-degree video. AR will make a foot-fall this year (2019). More and more companies are entering the gold rush.
Virtual reality is when you are transported to a different world. You lose the sense of reality. Typically, you wear Virtual Reality glasses and there may be wires (with sensors) which are strapped over your body. The Virtual Reality experience is more immersive than Augmented Reality. In Virtual Reality, if you touch something you will feel the sensations. If you pick up apples and put it into a basket, you will feel that it’s almost like the real thing. But mind you, if you are shot at – the bullet can be fatal. At present, there are very few vendors who sell Virtual Reality glasses and gear. Some of them are Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The biggest challenge is for content developers. They have to create a different kind of content for Virtual Reality. At present, the content is scarce. But it will improve in the coming years. Virtual Reality has applications in manufacturing, education and marketing areas.
Mixed Reality or hybrid reality is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality is a combination of Augmented and Virtual Reality used together to give us an immersive experience. When used to classify the larger scope of reality technologies, it refers to the coverage of all possible variations and compositions of real and virtual objects. Whilst the core premise of both AR and MR is similar, the crucial difference is the underlying technology. Mixed Reality is (for the moment, at least) headset-based, whereas AR is viewed through a flat-screen such as a smartphone or tablet. MR is also aware of the geometry of the environment around you – using it as the canvas for you to create immersive content that is defined by the space you are in. The recent release of Magic Leap has been causing a lot of interest in MR, but the tech has been around for a while – Microsoft launched HoloLens in 2016.
In the coming years, the content being produced by everyone will be Augmented / Virtual / Mixed Reality. All these technologies will have an impact on how we consume knowledge and internalize it. The education sector will be transformed rapidly by the arrival of these technologies. Newer and better content will leave every one of us with a great experience. Imagine feeling the same as you felt watching a great 3-D movie. We are all here for the experience. There is a saying ‘People won’t remember what you said, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel’. So, it’s about that ‘a-ha’ factor that we crave for. The future is Augmented / Virtual / Mixed reality. Watch out this space.
God Bless …
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