AR and VR have completely enhanced the use of technology by introducing simulated environments in various industry sectors, right from entertainment to businesses, and opened exciting potential in the future of gaming, marketing, e-commerce, education, and many other fields. They have completely evolved and replaced the real world with the virtual one.
Let us discuss in detail both the technologies, their differences, use cases basically everything.
What’s the Difference Between AR and VR?
Augmented Reality – AR represents augmented reality. AR simulates the mundane, physical surroundings into a colorful, visual one by projecting virtual pictures and characters through a phone’s camera or video viewer. Augmented reality is adding to the user’s real-life experiences such as adding digital characters to a live view.
Virtual Reality – VR represents virtual reality. VR takes the experience to another level by producing an entirely computer-generated simulation of an alternate world. The idea of VR is to eliminate the real world as much as possible and insulate the user from it. These immersive simulations can create almost any visual or place imaginable for the player using special equipment such as computers, sensors, headsets, and gloves.
In AR, a virtual environment coexists with the real environment, with the goal of providing additional information about the real world. A user can access such information without having to do a search.
Virtual reality simulates an entirely virtual environment that replaces the real world with a virtual world because these virtual environments are entirely fabricated, they are often designed to be larger than life.
Both the concepts are entirely unique, they are designed to bring the experience of the simulated environment with different use cases.
Real-Time Use Cases of AR and VR
AR is widely used by various industries because of its ability to generate informational overlays that add useful, real-world scenarios.
Some actual applications are-
IKEA Place – It is a mobile app that allows users to visualize IKEA furniture in their own home by overlaying 3D furniture over live video of the space.
YouCam Makeup – It allows users to try real-life cosmetics through selfies.
Repair Technicians – It guides users to the step-by-step procedure of repairing and maintaining pieces of equipment.
Sports to provide real-time statistics and data for improved training.
Education – The education and Training industry uses AR to provide training with an immersive experience allowing them to visualize concepts.
Marketing — AR concepts on the packaging, point-of-sale materials, and billboards give businesses a brand new and memorable way to interact directly with customers.
Design and construction – Designers are using AR to see what and how hypothetical products look and function in real environments and to make virtual changes to existing products without even any physical changes.
VR has some applications in product design, training, architecture, and retail, but the majority of VR applications are built around gaming and entertainment.
Architects and Interior Designers use VR to design homes, and create a walk-through of the designs, and how their homes will look without actually designing.
Automobiles are using VR, Soldiers, firefighters, and workers who work in hazardous situations are being trained with the help of VR.
Healthcare providers also use VR simulated environments for surgical training.
The Travel & Tourism industry uses VR for virtual travel videos as a campaign to attract tourists.
Components of the AR system
The most common components of AR systems are included below. They are recognized by hardware and software.
These hardware components are the backbone of augmented reality.
- Processor – AR requires powerful processing power to create the imagery needed and place it in the proper location for it to appear to exist in a real-world environment. Processors may be incorporated into a mobile handset or embedded into a wearable device (more on this below).
- Display – In AR, images are created and then displayed on some form of display machine. These include the following devices:
- Mobile devices – The smartphone or tablet screen is the most common way to view AR hologram images. When a user points their phone’s camera at a certain point of interest, the live video is generated by the camera lens which is laid with AR information.
- Wearable device – Smart glasses such as Google Glass, Vuzix Blade, and Solos Smart Glasses are all designed as standard eyeglasses that contain a small display only visible to the wearer. The person wearing the AR headset can see the real world by looking straight through the lenses of the goggles, while the embedded display provides an informational overlay.
- Automotive HUDs – HUDs stands for heads-up displays, these are systems that use your car’s windshield as a screen. A device projects an image, speed, directions, etc. from the dashboard upwards onto the windshield. The driver sees the reflection of this image as it bounces off the glass like a mirror.
- Others —More futuristic devices like smart contact lenses and systems that can project an image directly onto the retina may become viable in near future.
- Camera – It is the primary sensor required for AR to function, the camera provides the live video to the processor, which detects key features of the environment on which the AR data is overlaid.
- Other sensors – AR requires sensors to understand motion. Various types of AR Sensors are required for operation. These may include spatial sensors such as accelerometers and digital compasses which indicate the direction the camera is facing, GPS sensors that track the user’s location in the world, microphones that incorporate audio data into the simulation, and LiDaR which uses lasers to measure exact distance.
- Input devices – AR systems have been devised to work with various types of input technologies. First of all, is the mobile device touchscreen then other options include voice recognition technology, so users can control the system via speech, and gesture recognition systems which typically translate the motion of the user’s hand into commands.
Several types of software algorithms are needed to enable AR such as:
- Image registration – It’s software that takes the photographic representation of one’s surroundings and uses that information to determine various objects and real-world coordinates within it. Image registration is used to map the objects of the real world and determines what’s in the background, foreground, where an object starts and ends, and points of interest with additional information.
- 3D rendering – When the real world is mapped, the next step is to overlay the AR information on top of it. The 3D renderer creates virtual objects and places them in the exact determined locations on the live image. The programming language Augmented Reality Markup Language (ARML) is the current standard for setting the location and appearance of a virtual object.
- Content management – Content management is a back-end technology that is used to maintain a database of 3D models and virtual objects.
- Interface – The interface is the intermediary between the video of the AR environment and the user.
- Development toolkits – Various open-source and distinguished technologies are used to give programmers a framework to build AR applications on the platform of their choice.
Elements of VR System
- Viewing System
A good viewing system can possibly provide the best virtual reality experience. Irrespective of the number of users, the viewing system is what connects the last mile.
- Tracking System
Sensors are of utmost priority that is required by Virtual reality headsets such as accelerometer, GPS, compass, microphones, etc., they also need a sensor camera to recognize movement and provide the best 3D world experience.
- Interactivity Element
VR provides realistic interaction with the virtual environment. It is one of the main attractions of a VR system that one can interact with the environment as if it is real. The elements of interaction depend on speed, mapping, and range. The power to move from one place to another inside a virtual world and the ability to change the environment are the best interactivity elements it can provide.
- Artistic Inclination
Artificial Intelligence is the engineering of making intelligent machines and computer systems that perform like the human brain. The VR artist should focus on the entertaining factor, engaging factor, and emotions so that the experience is immersive and users feel that they are in the game or environment and are a part of it. The environment should be completely immersive.
- Sensory Management System
If there is a slight variation in the virtual environment like the movement, direction, or vibration, then users should be able to feel it.
Challenges for AR/VR
AR and VR are in their development stage, and they have a long way ahead of them before becoming mainstream technologies. Some of the most frequent technology and business challenges are:
- Limited mobile processing capability – Mobile handsets have limited processing power, but tethering a user to a desktop or server isn’t realistic. Either mobile processing power will have to expand, or the work will have to be offloaded to the cloud.
- Limited mobile bandwidth – While cloud-based processing offers an attractive potential solution to the mobile processing problem, mobile phone bandwidth is still too slow in most places to offer the necessary real-time video processing.
- Complex development – Designing an AR or VR application is costly, time-consuming, and complicated. Development tools need to become more user-friendly in order to make these technologies accessible to programmers.
- VR hardware’s inconvenience – Putting on a virtual reality headset and clearing a room often detract from the user experience. VR input devices, in the form of modified gaming controllers, can also often be unintuitive.
- Building a business model – Outside of video gaming, many AR and VR applications remain in the early stages of development with unproven viability in the business world.
- Security and privacy issues – The backlash over the original Google Glass proved that the mainstream remains skeptical about the proliferation of cameras and their privacy implications. How are video feeds secured, and are copies stored somewhere?
AR and VR are surely interesting and modern-day technology as they successfully provide an immersive experience to users, where every individual can benefit from use of these technologies which ensures the fact that they have an impressive future ahead.
AR technology especially is finding its way to various industries such as healthcare, design, automobile, etc. It is opening new doors of possibilities for our engineers and researchers to move ahead with. Also increasing momentum of realistic VR video games is raising demands by consumers which is opening opportunities for research and development. Still, we cannot overlook the fact that these technologies are costly, and require good and experienced programming capabilities and resources.
Krowd is an award-winning Australian app development company, founded in 2017. With our design and development services, we work with startups and businesses in Australia and around the world to create engaging iOS and Android applications.
We will keep looking forward as these technologies make their way to mainstream technologies which are cost-efficient and provide ease of use.