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AR or VR : A Comparison for Future

Emmanuel Christi das

Artificial Intelligence, coupled with AR/VR, will significantly disrupt the ‘middleman’ and make our lives ‘auto-magical’. The implications will touch every aspect of our lives, from education and real estate to healthcare and manufacturing.

Five years ago, virtual reality was the future, and augmented reality was still a concept. VR was suddenly white-hot ready to devour the display unit market, with Facebook spending USD 2 billion to acquire VR headset company Oculus in 2014. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey appeared on the cover of Time with a rapturous cover story about why VR was “about to change the world.”

Now while this is happening, away from the VR roars, Google Glass, the torch bearer for augmented reality, was an expensive

embarrassment, thanks to cringe worthy publicity stunts like tech evangelist Robert Scoble taking a picture of himself wearing his Google Glasses in the shower or a bevy of stories about ‘glassholes’ refusing to take off their Glasses and being kicked out of restaurants and bars. By 2015, Google officially stopped supporting Google Glass, and augmented reality seemed like it had come to a standstill. Dormant- but not dead.

Four years later, headsets designed for virtual reality get sweaty and are awkward to wear if you need glasses. Motion sickness is relatively common. Thanks to an obscure optometrical problem of ‘vergence-accommodation conflict,’ your eyes get tired trying to square the circle of focusing on things that appear to be far away but in reality are just being displayed on screens centimeters away from your eyeballs.

Meanwhile, AR is making quite an entrance with both iOS’s ARkit and Android’s ARCore. The smartphone has suddenly become a place for app developers to experiment in new ways with a device that nearly every living soul carries in their back pocket. It’s that combination of engaging and actually helpful that makes AR’s future seem much brighter than VR. As more and more phones are able to use AR, and better AR apps will create interesting new use cases, smartphones will quickly become a way to open up a windowpane of digital information and entertainment in front of us. And with Apple slowly hiring up most of the talent in AR, smart glasses that the everyday consumer will actually buy and use seem like something we’ll see in the next decade.

Long story made short- VR is more like the original Nintendo — an amazing combination of hardware and software that fundamentally changed how a lot of people spent their leisure time. But AR, with its ability to be both ubiquitous and useful, seems more and more like the smartphone, a combination of hardware and software that changed how we lived. Soon, it will change how we learn and through experience.

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