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As the development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tech continues to boom, it’s interesting to note how interchangeably the two terms are used.

 

However, AR and VR are by no means the same. Sure, they sound similar and sometimes their technologies can overlap, but they are two very different ideas with distinguishable capabilities.

WHAT IS AR?

If you’ve tried to catch any Pokemon or used the IKEA app in recent years, then you’ve used some form of augmented reality. AR is a technology that expands and changes the perception of our view of the real world, by adding layers of digital information on to it. AR allows you to move freely, while super-imposing computer-generated images over whatever you are looking at.

The term ‘AR’ was actually coined back in 1990 and first appeared in the work of researchers for Boeing. These days, AR displays can offer something complex, like holograms floating in a room to something as simple as a data overlay that shows a user the time.

Mostly used in apps for smart-phones and tablets where there are endless possibilities as to how it can be used. According to some tech writers, “phone-based AR software has been recognizing surroundings and providing additional information about what it sees for years now, offering live translation of text or pop-up reviews of restaurants as you look at them.” Google has also added an AR-mode to their Maps app.

SYDNEY THUND-AR

A perfect example of AR technology can be seen in the Sydney ThundAR activation that was developed by Mobiddiction for HomeWorld. The Sydney Thund-AR activation is a native iPad app that was built using an iOS AR-kit. Working closely with the ever supportive team at HomeWorld, we developed a simple but fun way to engage Sydney Thunder fans that also showcased some fun, new technology for users to experience and take home a piece of their experience with them being part of an in-stadium activity.

The app included face detection technology that recognised the shape, size, contour and painted various Sydney Thunder theme filters onto fans faces. The Mobi UI/UX team crafted a range of filters, using various shapes and contours, so that fans of all ages and sizes could get in on the action as well. They also added textures to make the final image look close to the filter being face-painted in real life.

Although AR offers limitless possibilities, a distinct disadvantage of it when compared with virtual reality is visual immersion.

WHAT IS VR?

While AR can change our view of reality, VR actually places a user inside a virtual experience. VR uses computer technology to create a simulated environment where, instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. In some instances, other senses like taste, smell and hearing are simulated as well. Most VR tech is identified by headsets such as the Oculus and the Sony PlayStation VR.

According to Wired, VR tech is finally coming of age and is set to make even more significant steps over the next two years. Whilst the idea of people being able to immerse themselves into 3D worlds can be dated back to the 19th Century, it was not until the 1960s when a university computer science professor created the first head-mounted display called ‘the Sword of Damocles’. However, the term “virtual reality” was first used by Jaron Lanier, whose company created the first products that could deliver VR.

When one looks at how drastically the world has changed since COVID-19, it is clear there is room for VR to take the lead in shifting our approach to work environments. As the ability for personal interaction becomes more restrictive, it is encouraging to know that there are moves being made within VR tech that will allow for a virtual interaction that feels like the real thing.

VIRT-REAL

Mobiddiction’s VR 360º platform, Virt-Real, is one of the latest developments in VR that offers businesses an innovative way to continue holding annual events and conferences.

With features including, multiple rooms for different streams, photo galleries, social feeds and networking live chats, the Virt-Real platform also offers completely customised themes that are suited to individual business needs.

Earlier this year, we delivered an amazing feature rich virtual event for telecommunications company, Genesys. As we thought of ways to leverage our VR 360º platform, we had to consider all the necessary requirements including:

  • Keeping multiple guests engaged form different time zones.
  • Introducing Sydney to all global attendees.

In the end, our team presented a virtual “Sydney Bus Tour” that allowed guests to really feel as if they were in the city of Sydney for the conference. With no app download needed, the team at Genesys had already sent attendees readily packaged conference swag pack a fully branded SDR2020 conference pack with lanyard, VR lens, socks, mask, conference agenda and everything they needed to experience everything the city of Sydney has to offer, right from their homes.

WHICH IS BETTER?

Both AR and VR come with their own advantages and disadvantages, and while similar in their aims to provide a more immersive tech experience for users, they are very different.

When it comes to comparisons, the possibilities of both technologies will continue to develop over the next couple of years but their application will depend on the different purposes they need to serve.

According to PTC’s executive vice president of augmented reality products Michael M. Campbell, AR is “…well-suited for industrial use cases, particularly workforce training and product maintenance.”

And as we can see from the Genesys use case, VR is the perfect solution when looking for a way to offer completely immersive experiences.


As the global pandemic continues to shift our way of life and our experiences, technology like AR and VR will become even more important. If you are interested in learning how you can leverage this technology for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our tech team.

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