VR and AR: Change on the Horizon
We are currently living in an era of mobile computing where a major part of our lives is influenced, if not driven by our mobile phones. Now a new technology is taking shape and is looking to replace mobile computing with immersive computing. Devices based on Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) promise a new and unique experience with each use.
Virtual reality is basically the reconstruction of an environment using computer-generated simulations. By stimulating the users’ sight and hearing, it makes the user experience the situation firsthand. In layman terms this technology turns illusion into reality. Virtual reality based devices have already started flooding the market. In Pakistan a startup called HAPTIKA is already aiming to bring fan favorite games to all Pakistanis in VR. HAPTIKA is also working on developing military and medical applications of VR and AR.
Facebook recently purchased Oculus, a technology company that works in the VR/AR development field. Application of this technology is not limited to entertainment; pilots undergo virtual flight simulations as part of routine training. There is even a prospect of using this technology in the treatment of the mentally ill, allowing them to face past traumas.
Augmented reality takes our normal, real-world environment and makes it more interesting by layering computer augmented elements on top of it. It modifies our view of reality using sound, video and graphics. It can be said that AR turns reality into illusion, but the difference in computer augmented elements is easily distinguishable. AR displays allow us to interact with our environment as augmentation techniques work in real time.
While VR replaces our world with a simulated one, AR enhances our perception of the world. Both of these technologies hold immense promise and new applications are being discovered each day.