Main menu (IT)

AR and VR Made Simple

August 6, 2018

Example of augmented reality on a smartphone.

Photo Courtesy of CNET

"Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) seem to have been on the cusp of mainstream success for years. But you can't decide if they offer something for you until you understand what they offer at all. 

Augmented reality

AR is when you look at the real world and see it overlaid, or augmented, with location-specific information and graphics. This is not the same as something like Google Glass, which merely puts a display of information out in front of your eyes without anchoring it to a relevant location in space. 

AR is the easiest of the two new "realities" to sample: You can experience it by holding up your phone while running one of hundreds of AR apps, sliding your phone into a face-mounted holder for more immersion or using a dedicated AR headset such as Microsoft HoloLensMagic Leap or ODG R-7 for highest performance.

The world knows AR best from Pokemon Go, though I'm most excited by more useful AR applications such as navigating a big-box store or buying furniture that you never feel the need to return.

Virtual reality

VR is when the sights and sounds around you are replaced with virtual, computer-generated ones. The environment that results can be quite natural (being at a basketball game) or completely imagined (being in a video game). VR surrounds you in 360 degrees and three dimensions to drive home the illusion. In its most ambitious forms, its places are fully navigable as you move through them and use your hands to manipulate objects."

Read more about AR and VR at CNET.