Oh, so now I get why Google is putting all their eggs in the VR basket; because it's the closest thing they've got to AR and they don't want to be left in the dust.
Too late, Google.
AR is to Augmented Reality as VR is to Virtual Reality, and make no mistake, AR kicks VR's butt around the block without even breaking a sweat.
If we're talking gaming, then VR is to Pong as AR is to Star Wars
; there's simply no comparing the two.
AR = VR on steroids
VR works by duplicating two source videos, placing them side by side on your phone's screen, and then with the help of a VR headset, the two identical images merge to look like one 3D scene.
Similarly, AR also uses a wearable headset, but that's quite literally where the similarities end.
VR is just a glorified View-Master
, while HoloLens
, the latest AR technology from Microsoft, uses a full fledged computer running Windows 10. AR augments
your reality by adding
CGI elements into
your environment that blend with your real world surroundings.
So while VR games look
like they're in 3D, AR games look like they actually exist
in the here and now.
So if you're battling aliens, you can take cover behind the sofa, dodge enemy fire, and blast holes into the wall, all without needing to hire a contractor to repair the damage.
How it works
HoloLens scans your environment and learns where objects are placed within the room, then superimposes CGI into your actual environment.
Even better, the objects placed into your environment can be pinned to a wall or desk so they stay in place when you move your head, just like real objects stay in place as you look around your environment.
So in effect, you could place a virtual TV on the living room wall without drilling any holes or plugging anything into an outlet.
Then, when you're done watching TV, simply close the TV program or just remove your HoloLens.
AR isn't just for gaming
The HoloLens developer's edition
is shipping now and can be used by developers in a myriad of ways.
But it ain't cheap, nor is acceptance into the program guaranteed. You'll need to be part of the Windows Insider
program, then fill out an application to be considered for a developer kit, which will cost you $3,000.
But the upside is you'll be on the front edge of this new technology as it becomes mainstream.
The future is now
The implications for HoloLens are limitless.
HoloLens is a standalone wearable computer that's fully adjustable, has built in speakers, and can even be worn over glasses.
It boasts 3 hours of use or 2 weeks of standby on a single charge. There's no fans, and it emanates no heat. It's fully functional and fully portable.
Unlike Google VR, HoloLens is a fully functioning computer, and as such, doesn't need to be tethered to another device or mobile phone. There's no wires and no constraints, and it connects to the internet directly via WiFi.
For a complete list of hardware specs click here
What's Next: All tech becomes a seamless mobile experience
The future of tech is portability; if you can't take it with you, then it's a useless relic.
The lines between reality and Augmented Reality will blur as real world objects are embedded with AR markers, allowing you to interact with your surroundings in new and exciting ways.
Sure, static objects like light poles and sign posts will still exist, but they'll be enhanced with AR.
Billboards and advertising will come to life with 3D movement and animation, street signs can change to match current driving conditions, and perhaps some structures will no longer exist in the here and now, as resources will be better spent elsewhere.
What's your take?
Are you excited about AR? Are you willing to plunk down $3k for a developer's kit? Is Google Cardboard already obsolete? Post your comments below.
featured images: (c) Microsoft HoloLens