How Augmented Reality will beat VR

Fundamentally, what is different between Augmented Reality or AR and Virtual Reality or VR?

AR interacts with the real world to create virtual representations of objects in your field of view. As depicted to the right, here someone is in their living room playing Minecraft. Their coffee table and couch have become part of the environment and the user can interact with his surroundings in a whole new way.

VR on the other hand creates an entirely new world without the same interaction of your surroundings. Besides the ‘not so exciting’ fact that VR like the simulation depicted here would make you sea sick, VR technologically is extremely tough to develop for.

The aim of this article is to better understand the philosophy of why we ‘game’ and the means we can use to achieve the most out of our time gaming.

Looking into the most popular games of the last 5 years we find Fallout 4, The Witcher 3 and Star Wars Battlefront. Fast and immersive games that capture your imagination and transport you to another world. How can the next iteration of gaming follow such a colorful and robust history?

I turn to CGI:

CGI was the most cutting edge technology created at the time for modern storytelling, yet when it came out it was more of a joke. 2001, many years after CGI first entered the market, The Mummy Returns left us wishing they… left more to our imagination.

Only 8 years later CGI is in a place to take our breath away.

With VR in its infancy, I find it hard to imagine we’re at the “Avatar” level of production but really more of a “Dwayne the Rock Johnson in The Scorpion King” level.

VR is cool and hyped right now so my opinion may not be well received but the technological gap between where we are, and where we’re going is just too far. This thought process is what landed me on AR. While being less immersive, but also less technologically demanding, AR is more poised to push out a polished and crisp product. Imagine playing a game like Total War

where you’re in control of battalions of troops and marching from one side of the couch to the other fortifying your coffee table fortress with cannons and deploying barbwire. Or enjoying more of a tactile experience by placing cards down that come to life before your eyes. This ability to dictate and interact with objects allows us to re-imagine gaming and open us up to an entire new realm of gaming and THAT is what will rejuvenate the industry.

As an aside: Further avenues I foresee for AR to hugely outpacing VR would be in the sectors of education and tourism by offering live feedback and a HUD display on whatever you’re researching. In healthcare displaying facts and live biometrics could assist students in ‘connecting the dots’ on complicated ideas. As far as tourism, imagine walking down a New York street in 1900 or transforming a Panera bread to a Parisian cafe or exploring long abandoned buildings in their former glory. AR would allow you to also see your real life surroundings, walking into traffic wouldn’t be a overt danger.

This post didn’t touch on the technology of VR but in doing a gap analysis I noticed the ‘presentations’ we have seen from VR are mostly simulations and are a far ways off from being in every home in America. Furthermore I only imagine LiFi being the capable medium to transmit the bulk of data required to run VR, which sadly isn’t in production yet.

VR is the dream. AR is the reality.