Virtual reality has been a big part of science fiction for the last century, but it’s only been within the last few years that is has really caught on. With big technology companies releasing state-of-the-art VR hardware that allow us to enjoy video games and other media in a completely new way, it won’t be long before much of the entertainment we consume is done on a virtual playground.
Virtual reality is not without its downfalls, however, and apart from the expensive hardware needed for VR, there’s also the question of every day life – how can VR be adapted to work for us while we’re at work or on a trip to the store? The answer for this seems to be in augmented reality, an offshoot of VR that has many people excited for the future.
What is Augmented Reality?
Where virtual reality is meant to transport you somewhere that doesn’t technically exist, thus taking you out of your current reality – what we can see and hear – augmented reality is being designed to rather improve our reality without taking us out of it. For example, putting on a pair of AR glasses might be able to give us GPS direction in real time, or display information about the location that we’re in.
It was first attempted with Google Glass, but it didn’t sit well with the average user. The large, clunky feel of the glasses combined with the constant need to instruct the glasses what to do made it unpopular, but future AR glasses are being made to improve upon all of the Google Glass failures.
The Real World Uses of Augmented Reality
Apart from enjoying media like online pokies for real money, AR designers are working hard in developing AR that has some practical benefits that could help not only the average person, but service workers as well.
- Navigation: AR and navigation have always been tied together, and have been a major drive for the need of some sort of visual navigation aids. While we often think of GPS as something that helps us navigate a road, this might only be the beginning. Think of visiting a large department store, and imagine that a pair of AR glasses might direct you to the aisle that you were looking for – it’s an unprecedented state of both indoor and outdoor navigation.
- Rescue Operations: Here we have an example of how AR can truly shine for the betterment of others. First responders, such as paramedics or police offers, could benefit greatly if their AR glasses displayed certain information about a rescue that they need to get to; information like 3D maps of the surrounding area, and even limited body scans of anyone that has been injured. The possibilities are endless.
- Retail: Here we have a sector where AR could have its biggest impact on the overall economy. Instead of going into a shop and looking at the price tag, your glasses could instead give you the price, as well as more information about the product in general, including its ingredients, where it was made, how much it weighs, and much more. It would give consumers much more buying power, allowing us to know exactly what we’re spending our money on.
AR looks to be the future for many parts of the world, but just how much it will truly change our lives – if at all – remains to be seen.