Updated: Jan 7
Years ago, it seemed the possibility of traveling to a virtual world appeared only in movies and television shows. What was thought to be impossible has now become one of the revolutionary technology trends to have impacted our society. Virtual reality is available to the average person, becoming a staple for entertainment and online gaming in families' homes. Yet, what exactly is Virtual Reality? And what is the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?
In popular movies, virtual reality was a world that the main character was stuck in or must conquer a villain while facing massive conflict in a highly technologically advanced world. Popular American tech magazine WIRED describes virtual reality as "a technology by which computer-aided stimuli create the immersive illusion of being somewhere else." This is done through computers, headsets, gloves, and sensors, and the equipment allows the user to fully immerse themselves into the virtual world. In the headset, a screen is placed on the eyes letting the user see as if they are in a fantasy-like reality while the sensors and gloves provide the feel and movement.
With virtual reality on the rise, Augmented Reality is additionally making a significant impact on technology. This type of technology is much different from V.R., incorporating smartphones to help form a virtual image. A.R. has the user look through their phone and use their camera to place a digital image on the screen. One example of A.R. is Snapchat's Bitmoji feature. This feature has users creating a custom avatar that can be projected onto their phone screens while using their cameras. Once the avatar appears on the screen, it will look like it is actually standing there in real life through the phone screen.
Extended Reality (X.R) - A.R. vs. V.R
Both products are often confused as one, leading users to mistake V.R. for A.R. or even the other way around. These two devices are often put together under the umbrella term "X.R." (extended reality). Yet, as technology continues to evolve, X.R. is becoming more integrated into our lives. This makes it harder to differentiate between the two while more products implement A.R. and V.R. into their systems. Here are the main differences between the two:
● V.R. users need a headset device and computers; A.R. only requires the user's smartphone
● A.R. involves the real world as a background; V.R. is all virtual through a screen
● V.R. optimizes fictional reality, while A.R. shifts the virtual and real world
X.R. in the Other Industries
A part of technology constantly evolving and shifting is the incorporation of X.R. in industries outside of tech. These industries include e-commerce, beauty, and social media. Multiple companies have decided to use X.R. to market to Gen-Z, the tech-savvy generation. X.R. is starting to be used in department store displays and in mall kiosks across the nation.
The possibilities of X.R. being in various industries is expanding and becoming endless. What was thought of as fantasy could now connect us to a virtual world made real.