Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality
AR and VR Aren’t the same thing
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) aren’t the same. They get chucked about a lot as terms, but there’s a very clear difference. Thanks to technology evolving, we’ve seen a resurgence of VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and increased popularity for AR apps such as Pokemon Go. Two very different concepts. Let’s distinguish them.
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A virtual reality headset takes over your vision entirely. It gives you an experience of being somewhere else completely different. Using the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, for example, means you use a total opaque headset that blocks out your surroundings. If you were to put them on whilst they’re off, you’d think you had a blindfold on.
Switched on, though, the OLED or LCD panels get refracted by the lenses and this floods your field of vision entirely. It might show you a 360 video or game, for example. You’re transported to where the headset puts you. The opportunities are endless.
Headsets like the Vive, Windows MR, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR use what is called 6DOF (six degrees of freedom). This is a motional tracking system which uses an external camera or sensor. The headset can detect which direction you’re facing and knows what movement you’re making in that direction. This combination of technology allows the user to navigate a virtual environment with their virtual body. It’s typically limited to a few square meters. However, it is very immersive and feels like a lot more than standing on the spot and looking around. The downside is that you should still be mindful to not trip on something around you, especially the necessary cables.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft calls their VR headset “mixed reality” and this can be confusing. It is virtual reality, still. They’ve just given it a marketing term.
Headsets like the Google Daydream View are mobile-based headsets that aren’t as powerful compared to tethered headsets as they need smartphone processing, either with a physical attachment or via a nearby system. They run on 3DOF (3 degrees of freedom), meaning they track direction, not the positional movement. Typically there’s only one 3DOF remote control otherwise they’re made to work with conventional gamepads. The experience is still pretty good, although not as immersive.
For apps and games, VR totally takes over your surroundings and transports you to another place. Your physical location doesn’t matter. In the game, you might be sat in the cockpit of a fighter plane. In an app, you might be on a virtual tour of a location. There are so many possibilities with VR. They replace everything about your surroundings with something different.
Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality: What Is Augmented Reality?
Where VR swaps your view of your physical reality, augmented reality simply changes or enhances it. Augmented reality devices such as the HoloLens from Microsoft and other ‘smart glasses’ from enterprise brands, are transparent. They allow you to see your existing reality as it were. Perhaps likened to wearing weak sunglasses.
The technology is developed for total free-movement as it projects images over the top of things you’re looking at. The idea expands on smartphone AR apps like Pokemon Go, which relies on the camera on the phone to project your surroundings and place a layer of information over that, shown on your screen.
Augmented reality displays can give the user something incredibly simple like the time or temperature to more complex holograms that appear to float about the room. Pokemon Go projects creatures on your display, which are overlaid on whatever your camera is receiving.
Smart glasses like the HoloLens and lesser-seen Magic Leap One allow you to place things like 3D decorations wherever you want.
Magic Leap One
This particular tech is disadvantaged compared with VR. This is known as visual immersion. VR is different because it swaps out your visual surroundings. AR apps only work on your smartphone or tablet. The HoloLens only really projects images within a limited space. It’s not truly immersive when the hologram you were looking at goes away when it reaches the boundaries. Looking at the small screen is also frustrating when you’re trying your best to imagine the thing being shown on your phone is really there.
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A simple AR interface simply overlays basic information on top of what’s infront of you and this can work well with 3DOF. Most augmented reality apps need 6DOF to track your actual location so that it can be consistent in its positioning for the images it needs to project. The HoloLens utilises a stereoscopic camera with the capability to recognised patterns in order to constantly know where it is. Advanced AR-friendly phones like the iPhone X use those freaky multiple rear cameras to track the depth.
Speaking for apps, AR is really unlimited. Phone-based augmented reality software has been picking up on surroundings and layering it with information for years. Live translations, for example, or a text-based pop-up with details of a restaurant.
AR headsets such as the HoloLens can take this further. It’ll allow you to move different apps around like windows floating around you. This essentially gives you a modular multiple-monitor set up for computing.
When it comes to games, AR builds experiences by utilising your surroundings. Fragments, the detective game, uses a scan of the room and builds a crime scene once it knows the layout. It will put furniture or props in. RoboRaid, as another example, learns where your walls are and will use them as projectors for images of robots doing various cool things.
AR versus VR
Augmented reality and virtual reality are two very different things, which you now know. They have similar designs in the background, but the result differs wildly.
VR takes you to another place by replacing your entire visual field.
AR enhances the existing reality by layering it.
Both kinds of technology are powerful and will only mature from here.
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Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality: Casinos
The use of augmented reality smart glasses with a 360-degree camera will soon revolutionise how we play online casino games. It’ll offer the opportunity to play in a hyper-realistic casino setting. You’ll be able to play your favourite games online with other players. You might forget you’re at home.
The use of virtual reality headsets will take that experience and put it on steroids. For a truly immersive experience, you can walk around the casino room, pick your own chair and even light up a cigar if you want (there are no smoking rules, it’s not real). VR tips the lead slightly when it comes to the online gambling experience because it’s able to take you out of your seat and put you right in the heart of luxury and VIP playing.
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