When someone hears the term augmented reality they might question what exactly it is. When you start to explain it they stop ask, “So kind of like virtual reality?” No, not quite, and today I would like to clear a few things up about the difference between the two. A simple explanation of the difference is the fact that in virtual reality, everything around you isn’t real and you’re in a virtual world. Whereas in augmented reality, you’re still in and can see the real world around you just with added images that overlay the real objects that surround you. Basically, you’re making your own environment a cooler version of itself. Augmented reality is just like its name suggests, it’s the real world, just altered and augmented. Personally speaking, augmented reality should be considered the better of the realities and here’s why I prefer it: you’re able to use it anywhere and aren’t limited to a specific area like you are with virtual reality. Since almost everyone has a smartphone, different apps are available to be able to use augmented reality where it applies. For example, back in 2011 Starbucks came out with an augmented reality version of their holiday red cups that allowed customers to see an animation if they downloaded their app and scanned the cup with their smartphones, making the cup come to life and allowing the customer to see it right from their phone. When using virtual reality, you’re submersed into a completely virtual and imaginary world and some might think of this as an escape. Augmented reality allows you to still be in your own environment just with some added media content overlapping it, which in turn, makes it a little bit more interesting and fun. Both virtual and augmented realities have been around for quite some time, however virtual reality is the more well-known of the two.
“I never actually had a moment where I felt like I had a power, and that augmented reality experience was the closest thing I’ve ever had.” -Tim Kring, NBC’s Heroes’ creator
So now that you hopefully have a better idea between the difference of virtual reality and augmented reality we can talk about why it’s important and what’s to come about in the (very) near future. Becoming very popular in the gaming world, augmented reality allows users to have control and gives them a sense of power. For example, the NBC show Heroes Reborn had recently given its fans an augmented reality experience at the San Diego Comic Con this past July that allowed them to feel as though they had superpowers through the use of Xbox Kinect and interactive audio systems. “After all these years of doing this show and living in this world, I never actually had a moment where I felt like I had a power, and that augmented reality experience was the closest thing I’ve ever had,” says the show’s creator Tim Kring.
Since augmented reality is being talked about more and more each day, a lot of research has been done in order to see the expected market growth of this new avenue in technology. According to Research and Markets, augmented reality is expected to grow 88.5% in the United States between now and 2020. With this new statistic, more and more companies are trying to get involved and make their next products around this technology. This number includes everything currently in the augmented reality market that includes both the hardware and the programming behind it. It seems as though there’s new improvement to the technology each day, such as hands-free usage, that will lead to an even larger expansion to this evolving market. With a more interactive and useful technology available to us, the world as we know it will only improve to make a better future.