Augmented reality

Alongside virtual reality is Augmented reality. Whilst Virtual reality allows you to immerse yourself in a bubble if you will, within an app. Augmented reality gives you a merge of the two depending on what platform you use it on. If you wear to look at something such as Microsoft HoloLens, it enables interactivity on somewhat similar levels of VR but with the real world in motion. This gives it a greater freedom of VR and arguably more interesting scenarios when it comes to apps, whilst VR tends to be gaming focused AR seems to be moving in a direction built around productivity. You can see this for yourself by visiting the HoloLens website with it boasting such apps as Sketchfab and their own edge browser. Still there are still games advertised on here such as Young Conker.

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 22.44.31.png

 

Using a controller may be impractical which is why they have used innovative gestures in order to control the character, such as staring in a direction in order to make him move. By having spatial mapping, it can also scan the environment to know where things are in order for the character to interest with the environment, and as the website advertises, use it in different areas for more replay ability. The concepts look extremely impressive and would love to try it myself, but as of right now it is clear it is still trying to find its footing in the gaming regard as this is more of a tech demo. We have seen other successes with augmented reality such as with Pokémon go. The game soared in popularity and earnt an estimated $600 million in revenue for Niantic labs, showing that AR has a place and demand within the world. However, as it stands gaming wise to the conventional approach, AR has a different approach which I don’t believe will be moving away gamers any time soon. With a normal game you can sit down, relax and get engrossed within the game. AR however is more interactive and active; it has different style/type of game which are more short bursts then anything. This is great for on the go type of thing, you sit on a bench, put some sleek AR glasses (fast forward a few years) and you play a platformer in the middle of a street – based on what you can see around you (possibly could be Mario, who knows). A great advantage to AR what VR does not have is the fact that you can see people, you can actually talk and interact which is a restriction to VR for now. That’s one of the big downfalls of VR for now, how you cannot socialise with others; some of my best moments of gaming were playing split screen with a group of friends. A merger between VR and AR would be the best of both worlds, being able to interact and socialise whilst also being able to be fully immersed. To my surprise I did a little research into VR and AR merging after re-reading what I had put, but it is a thing. Intel has been working on a merged reality headset that allows you to see what’s in front of you, but also allowing you to be immersed in the world. It works by detecting what is in front of you and implementing it into the world, which means that the friends problem I mentioned earlier, given enough time could be resolved with technology such as this.

verge_2016_11_15_13_40_03.jpgImage courtesy of The Verge

Imagine you are in a first person shooter, but instead of a split screen you have the merged headset on with a great screen and crisp visuals, not only does it mean no more screen watching it also means that you can turn to the side of you killed them and see their reaction. Keeping the social interaction whilst also having the benefit of VR+AR.

 

As I said previously I see great potential in how AR can be used for productivity, such as using Sketchfab to collaborate with people in order to plan architectural decisions. Of course the huge advantage to this, rather than viewing it on a computer screen is seeing it in 3d in the word. I think it would be great to export the models I have built, such as the Prudential Tower to be able to see it back to life in 3d around a table; it would be fantastic. I see something like this genuinely useful and I can only imagine how detailed and realistic the holograms will get in the future.

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Another one I mentioned was the Edge browser. I can see many uses for this and seems very convenient to say the least. Maybe you don’t have enough space for another monitor or your desk is to cluttered, no problem, you can just set a hologram up in that space and carry on. Possibly a short while in the future you connect your phone as the main computer, then use the HoloLens as the monitors/keyboard.screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-22-47-52

The HoloLens looks to be a product which could only be dreamed of a few years’ back, but now we are just in the whelm of it being a reality for everyone. But we are not there yet. For most people as it stands right now the HoloLens is out of reach by quite a margin, due to the eye watering £2,719 development edition. With a couple more years the price will come down along with more competition, which by that time hopefully it will be ready and accessible for consumer’s hands.

 

References –

 

Microsoft HoloLens –

https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-gb/hardware

 

Pokemon go sales –

http://qz.com/819677/nintendo-pokemon-go-profits-we-finally-know-how-much-nintendo-made-from-pokemon-go/

 

Merged reality –

http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/18/13673084/intel-microsoft-project-alloy-vr-headset-first-look-mixed-merged-reality

Young Conker, SketchFab and Edge browser images are from – https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

 

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