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Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: The Effects On the Social Landscape (Part 1)

Augmented Reality… Virtual Reality… what even is real anymore? We have seen so many of these different terms being bounced around on newsfeeds everywhere but what are they? What functions and opportunities do they offer? And is this really the future of how everyone is going to interact? Over the course of two blog posts, I will attempt to dispel the myth that these technologies are the same, before explaining how they could effect our interactions with businesses and peers alike.

Marvel's Iron Man J.A.R.V.I.S. Interface The J.A.R.V.I.S. Interface from the Iron Man films might be less a sci-fi, and more a realistic, prospect than we realise.

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between the two different technologies. Despite the terms being used freely – they are in fact different. Virtual Reality is all about users being in a virtual world and interacting within this realm. A good example is the popular video game app Clash of Clans which has created a virtual experience of a raidAugmented Reality, in comparison, is blending the virtual and real worlds together. Users are able to interact with virtual content in the real world – these can be a whole host of assets including images, videos, and models. When Microsoft released the HoloLens, an AR-headset, they produced a fantastic video which shows the blending of the two worlds and how users interact with them.

So you can see although both use the virtual world, the technologies are different. Now it’s great that these technologies exist – but you may be thinking, surely this is still something for the incredibly rich, no one else would be able to afford these and surely, they don't have any practical uses? You’d be wrong. This kind of technology is around today, being used by businesses and is accessible to the general public for far less than you may imagine.

Virtual Reality [VR] Headsets

In the VR camp there are a wide number of headsets available – mainly as companies have been focussing on users using their smartphones as the lens and providing essentially just the head-bound equipment. A good example of this is Google Cardboard – a simple, cheap alternative to buying a designated VR headset – which considering it costs $15 allows everyone to get involved in VR. However, companies have also focussed efforts on developing purpose-built headsets allowing users a truer VR experience. Big players here include Facebook-owned Oculus and Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR (evidently, there’s a lot of collaboration in this industry!).

Facebook Privacy Policy á la Virtual Reality My question is, who reads the privacy policy anyway?

Augmented Reality [AR] Headsets

In contrast, the AR tribe however does lack in numbers slightly in comparison. Although we can see AR technology in such apps like Snapchat’s lenses – this hardware hasn’t been quite as successful publicly as VR. That said, hardware like the Microsoft HoloLens and Google Glass has proposed fascinating technology that both consumers and businesses alike may be able to harness (as long as not everyone is a total ‘Glasshole’ that is).

I think that’s enough material for one day! Go watch / read the materials but keep an eye on this blog space – there’ll be a follow up explaining how these new pieces of tech will and are effecting our day-to-day interactions with everyone around us.

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