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AR vs. VR: The Big Guide to Innovative Worlds

Anton Pchelkin

Anton Pchelkin

Linkedin September 7, 2022

Of course, you've heard about VR and AR. But to create such an innovative solution, you need to explore these technologies deeply and know their characteristics and business benefits. VR and AR are already used in many business areas. Thus, Deloitte suggests that over 90% of companies with an annual income of over $100 million actively introduce VR and AR technologies into their projects.

At the end of the article, you can additionally download a bonus — practical mini PDF guide on how to hire a VR/AR development team.

VR technology

The main thing you need to know about VR and AR

The similarity of technologies lies only in the fact that both interact with the outside world through special devices. Upon closer examination, it becomes clearer that these are two separate concepts that have their own characteristics and perform different tasks.

VR (virtual reality) with the help of a special headset, allows you to move to another place, changing your real location only visually.

AR (Augmented Reality) allows adding a virtual detail to the real world. That is, your entire environment does not change but acquires some additions.

These technologies change reality differently. Devices and software that support them vary as well. Many companies use AR, VR, or both simultaneously to achieve their business goals. These methods are used in computer games, entertainment, medicine, trade, advertising, education, and more. Our guide will help you decide if you need these technologies in your business.

What is needed for introducing altered reality technologies?

To use augmented and virtual reality, you need specific technical means. Let's consider the elements you need to implement AR technology:

  • Hardware. In other words, the components of a computer or smartphone: processors, screens, sensors, video cards, input devices, and others.
  • Displays. All kinds of monitors, screens, mono and stereo displays, and video projectors.
  • Sensors and input systems, include GPS, compasses, gyroscopes, accelerometers, recognition systems, and peripherals.
  • Software is the basis of augmented reality, developed for specific purposes. The software is necessary for the interconnection and operation of the above components.

Virtual Reality is a more isolated system that consists of a headset. These can be helmets or goggles, gloves, or controllers. But the use of VR also requires technical means. Note that the more realistic you want to get a picture, the more powerful the computer resources should be. For a VR system, the following software elements are necessary:

  • Mathematical models that represent objects and their environment. It is a set of formulas programmed by a specialist that displays the virtual space in digital form.
  • Software module for converting mathematical models into video information.
  • A display subsystem designed to generate and show three-dimensional pictures of the world.
  • The feedback subsystem provides user interaction with the virtual space. It is needed for interactive programs where you can influence artificial locations and objects. For example, in VR games.

VR and AR technologies whitepaper

Talking about the history of technology, we mentioned the types of headsets for immersive virtual reality. Now let's look at them in more detail. Connected headsets include HTC's Vive Cosmos, Index Valve's PlayStation VR from Sony, and others. These devices require a wired connection to a PC, laptop, or game console. And for standalone headsets, additional equipment is not needed. For example, Quest 2 virtual reality glasses from Oculus and Daydream View from Google can be used immediately, without connections.

Computer-tethered and standalone VR headsets use a technology called 6 degrees of freedom (6DOF). It entails constructing the trajectory of the movement of an object in a three-dimensional space. Simply put, the sensors and cameras placed in the headset determine which direction you are looking, as well as your steps taken in any direction. They transmit information through the feedback subsystem to the mathematical model, which displays the corresponding picture on the screen.

6DOF combined with motion controllers allows you to travel through the artificial world and interact with surrounding objects using your virtual hands.

The technology possibilities and prospects

Virtual reality

The technology allows you to change the environment instantly. Wearing VR glasses, you can move to any part of the Earth or even to another planet. Game developers are actively using this technology to immerse players in fictional worlds or alternate reality.

Innovative solutions allow you to create realistic environments, which is why VR is quickly gaining popularity. Millions of users worldwide note that the experience of interacting with virtual space gives a fantastic feeling. Therefore, many companies are successfully using VR to promote and increase the target audience's loyalty and simplify internal processes. Let's list the most promising business areas where this technology is used:

  • Video games. There is no need to say much here, just look at the forecast from NewGenApps stating that the number of VR gamers will reach 216 million by 2025.
  • Trade. World-famous companies organize virtual tours of stores and showcase their products and services. For example, car test drives, as they did in the Volvo holding. It drew attention to the new Volvo XC90, the first batch of which was sold out in 2 days.
  • The real estate industry. VR-visiting helps maintain interest and saves real estate firms up to 30% on organizational needs.
  • Education. Children and students show an increased interest in new technologies, so many institutions are introducing VR into their educational plans. School and university software vendors are projected to generate $700 million in revenue by 2025.
  • Healthcare. Here, technologies are being actively introduced for consultations with doctors, as well as for psychotherapy: getting rid of phobias, anxiety disorders, and insomnia. Over $1 billion was spent on VR in 2020. Analysts are sure that this figure will increase by 5 times by 2025.
  • The movie industry and events. The technology allows you to attend concerts or shows without leaving your home. The effect of live presence was also adopted by the creators of films and TV series. Perhaps in the near future, we will not just watch movies from the outside but be a part of movie plots.
  • Marketing. The ability to demonstrate advertising campaigns in the virtual space increases the chances of attracting customers. It is predicted that in the next 5 years, with the help of artificial reality, companies will increase the conversion of landing pages by 10%.
  • Tourism. VR fits perfectly into this industry because it allows you to visit any place and feel the atmosphere of the resort as if you were there for real.

Augmented Reality

Compared to virtual reality, AR has its weak side – the lack of complete immersion. The technology does not replace your environment but allows you to add digital objects to it. Sensors scan your environment and overlay certain items on top of it. If we are considering “smart glasses”, then virtual objects are displayed on a small screen right in front of your eyes. When using tablets or smartphones, you will see the hologram through the device's camera. Here, unlike VR glasses, when you look away, you will see the real world, not the digital one.

As for the advantages, the technique of overlaying data on objects around allows you to move freely in space. With a connected VR headset, you won’t go far, but you can even go on a trip in “smart glasses” with the AR function. For example, such a device will come in handy when traveling abroad because it will translate texts for you and display important information on the display.

The simplest augmented reality uses 3 degrees of freedom (3DOF) technology. But the evolution of the industry helped most AR headsets change to 6DOF for more convenient work. For example, Microsoft HoloLens glasses are equipped with a stereoscopic camera and an object recognition system. It allows you to scan the environment, put special markers, and place virtual objects in accordance with them.

If the system fails, digital objects may move off the markers or disappear when you turn your head. But in fairness, we note that such glitches are quite rare. Constant work on technology improvement helps to avoid errors in the software.

Augmented reality has wide possibilities for use in any field. The latest smartphone models support this technology. All you need is your phone's camera and an AR-enabled app or game. Let's take a look at the most striking examples of the use of augmented reality in the mobile development market:

  • Pokémon Go. The game that almost everyone has heard of. It combines location tracking and augmented reality technologies. In 2016, such an innovative solution shook up the video game industry and ensured the project's success. Millions of users took to the streets to search for Pokémon through the camera of their smartphones. Worldwide collections amounted to more than $2 billion, and the game was downloaded about 500 million times.
  • The Power of the Brain. Another example of the successful use of AR technology. The app was created as an auxiliary tool to improve the lives of people with autism. The introduction of augmented reality into apps that help people with special needs opens a new page in healthcare. Using computerized glasses, Brain Power helps you learn simple daily activities and explore your environment.
  • IKEA. The company started working with AR technologies back in 2013. It focused on solving the problems of buyers who find it difficult to choose furniture or home decor. IKEA has launched the IKEA Place app, which allows you to view a product, select your favorite, and install it in your home virtually. This approach greatly facilitated the buying process and attracted new customers. The app is now regularly used by about 1 million customers.

AR and VR technologies are expected to become even more popular in the near future. Not only advanced companies but also small businesses consider implementing innovative solutions. Customers are becoming more demanding and prefer companies that give them a new consumer experience. Therefore, launching augmented and virtual reality within your business opens up new promising directions for attracting an audience.

How VR and AR contribute to the transformation of the real world

Have you ever thought about how technology impacted our work, life, and communication with others? We are gradually moving into a new era of the Internet, WEB3, when centralized information storage is being replaced by decentralization. It inevitably leads to the development of metauniverses. We explored several areas of human activity to demonstrate how VR and AR technologies are changing our world.

Business and work

We have considered how virtual reality helps companies to promote. Now let's focus on internal processes that ensure business activities. The coronavirus pandemic forced many people to switch to remote work and use modern communication tools (messengers, video chats, social networks).

In 2021, Meta Corporation launched Horizon Workrooms, a test version of the conference room on Facebook. It is a completely virtual space where you can hold conferences with your colleagues and partners. It is the same office where you see and hear the presence of others, but there will be avatars instead of real people. The Metaverse, which the company plans to create, will combine the digital and real worlds. And Horizon Workrooms is the first step towards achieving this goal.

If Meta successfully continues to develop the project, then, according to forecasts, many companies will use virtual rooms as a permanent workspace in the next 5 years. Metaverse is also quite capable of expanding its influence to other areas: art, education, and more.

Routine solutions

In everyday life, there is a place for new worlds too. With the help of augmented reality, you can try on things and shoes, decorate the interior, and place furniture. AR-enabled apps also let you measure objects, translate texts, draw details, track constellations, and even try on tattoos.

Entertainment

Playing in virtual space, users get a fully immersive experience. The Metaverse provides for combinations of the real and digital worlds. Therefore, the computer and mobile entertainment fields are best suited for developing VR and AR technologies.

The experience of being fully immersed in a digital space that feels like the real thing is captivating for many gamers. In addition, the development of NFT tokens for in-game items takes the industry to a new level. Players can even earn by trading collectibles. In parallel with video games, marketplaces arise where NFTs can be implemented, but more on that later.

Creativity

The use of virtual objects has spread in the society of artists. Thus, they can create unique objects and entire worlds with the help of technology. They have unlimited possibilities for filling digital galleries with any images and things. For example, the most popular art platform NFT Sotheby's Decentraland showcases a virtual replica of art galleries in London. This approach popularizes art and opens up more promising areas for artists to earn money.

Marketplaces

VR and AR are spreading among retailers and marketplaces. Technology allows entrepreneurs to invite customers to virtual showrooms and stores. For example, Faradise, an aggregator for furniture manufacturers and sellers, has developed a smartphone app that allows you to place different models in the interior and order them online. Now more than 200 companies and professional designers work on the platform.

As the Internet evolves, NFT marketplaces develop too. Here you can buy and sell digital items, collectibles, and other things. Also, platforms with AR or VR support allow you to interact with the displayed goods. The leader in this industry is the OpenSea token trading platform. It provides access to a wide range of NFT objects. We also note young and promising projects: Xanalia from the USA and DMarket from Ukraine. They are gaining popularity among followers of the token direction.

What does your business need?

The virtual world provides an immersive experience and allows you to see something as if it was real. It requires a reasonably expensive headset and a powerful computer. Nevertheless, it pays off due to the received emotions exceeding expectations.

The augmented world allows you to add digital pictures to the environment. In this case, the space does not change completely. AR technology is available on smartphones and tablets. It is also presented as "smart glasses" that show virtual objects in front of your eyes.

Each of the technologies presented has many advantages and profitable ways to use. They are similar in that both are innovative solutions that help businesses to multiply their revenues. The experience consumers gain through AR or VR makes them come back to you for more.

Conclusion

We have told you the most interesting of the history of virtual technologies and briefly described the main areas of their application. Which technology suits your business is up to you!

Read more about the implementation of AR and VR in our PDF below.

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Practical PDF guide on how to hire a VR/AR development team

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