Augmented Reality: The Tech That May Change Our Lives

Augmented reality and virtual reality are garnering a lot of attention and are promising tremendous growth. The two hyper realities are frequently categorized together and often confused with one another by the less informed. Simply put, they are like cousins than brothers. Related, but different. The biggest common thing they share is the remarkable ability to alter our perception of the world. Where they differ, is the perception of our presence. Let’s go into details on how are they similar yet so different.

What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is the umbrella term for all immersive experiences, which could be created using purely real-world environment or situation, artificial, computer-generated content or a hybrid of both. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing. VR is also able to transpose the user. In other words, bring us some place else. Through closed headset or goggles, VR blocks out the current world, expand our sensory experiences and puts our presence elsewhere then. The immersion is quite dramatic, with some users reporting feelings of movement as they ascend a staircase or ride a rollercoaster within the virtual environment.

What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) takes our current reality and adds something to it. It does not move us elsewhere. It simply alters or “augments” our current state of presence, often with clear visors. It is an overlay of content on the real world, but that content is not anchored to or part of it. Google Glass was a first attempt from Google to bring augmented reality to consumers and we’d expect to see more of this in the future. What really made AR experience mass market success and infiltrate our daily lives was the launch of Pokemon Go app in 2016.

With virtual reality, you can swim with sharks. And with augmented reality, you can watch a shark pop out of your business card. While VR is more immersive, AR provides more freedom for the user, and more possibilities for marketers because it does not need to be a head-mounted display. Altogether the widespread development and consumption of this emerging technology boosted AR/VR market to reach $162 Billion in 2020. (market share), yet it has become evident that AR overshadows its cousin, winning public’s heart with its easy accessibility and practicality. From retail to education to manufacturing, AR is positioned to drive higher business value across sectors.

No different than any technology that has preceded AR, along with success components that include performance and design, there are also a few big challenges for the near-term AR adoption and which it needs to overcome. Those risk factors fall into two main categories: social and technical. While social challenges involve the issues that aren’t directly tied to a technical support, but rather some of the potentially negative side effects of using AR apps, technical challenges are associated with things like the object or face recognition problem/issue and sensory accuracy. Let’s take a closer look at why the future of AR is uncertain.

Technical
The augmented reality devices are not consumer-ready yet. Alongside that, there is still the issue of device interoperability and authoring limitations based on specific platforms. Our mobile devices remain the only viable tools able to stimulate AR adoption and even so most of current mobile devices are not well-suited for this purpose. There are still a few years away from the smart augmented reality headsets to hit the consumer market.

Social
The social challenges of AR can take much longer to overcome than the majority of technical challenges. And the reason is simple: if people don’t like or are afraid of something they don’t use it. So far we have only wanted more digital powers in our lives. However, many find the melding of digital and physical worlds as an overkill. And as far as overload goes, it is just something developers need to be conscious of.
Besides, as useful or cool as AR might become, but in action, it always seems lackluster. Whether it’s poor resolution, inaccurate computer vision, or uncomfortable human/computer interactions. The actual experience never lives up to what it’s supposed to be and people are averse to wearing a computer / headset on their face to boot. It’s cumbersome, it’s weird, and it’s socially awkward. Although it is understood that this is still early days, the experience seems so far away that maybe what we dream of is still a technological wave away.

People are looking up experiences, not technologies. One of the most difficult challenges faced by the AR technology lies in educating the wider audience – the broader market. Despite the fact that consumers do not observe AR’s wide-reaching applications in their everyday lives, there are a lot of AR experiences available these days. The thing is that the general public lacks exposure to those experiences in the market. An AR app development company has to create a rich variety of user experiences – beyond entertainment and advertising, but expanded into education, medicine, maintenance – that are functional, reasonable, and have an easy learning curve.

It is no secret that AR faces a tough road. Nothing will happen overnight and there’s still a chance AR fails, but when you break it down into individual threats, you can see that most are capable of being overcome. Just like the technological breakthroughs that VR & AR have been making in the hyper reality, AR will be able to break through these technological hurdles and social stigma in this wave of ever-rising technological innovation.