The two emerging ideas and products that we can slip over our eyes is Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR). To understand where what these are and how they interact with our environment, we need to look at what these things actually do.
Starting with Augmented Reality, is a starting point on the continuum of additional realities. Professor Paul Milgram studied the effects of augmented reality and virtual reality on people. He devised this continuum to illustrate how the virtual environment relates to the reality that we perceive.
Augmented Reality is essentially looking at an image in real time and superimposing data collected from another source to add information and data to for the user to consume.
Using the above image, we can see how we can look at this street, bring up a device which in this case is an iPhone with the camera activated, to add a layer of information. We can see that the McDonalds is only .1 miles away with an ATM inside. Additionally we can see that there is a US Bank with a full service desk. This user is looking for ATMs and is using their iPhone to superimpose a layer of information to make a decision. Information, however, is not the only thing that AR is capable of.
Pokemon Go was a major hit when released in 2016 via Nintendo
Pokemon Go was a game of smartphone users that allowed an image of a creature based from the game to appear in "the real world" via augmented reality. Here we can see that this is not data layered over but an actual creature that moves and we can follow it with our screen. The purpose of this game is to throw "Pokeballs" at the creature to capture it. Flicking a finger up the screen throws one of these balls but, if you miss the creature moves away, further into the field and we can either move our bodies to get closer to it or flick harder to throw the ball further.
IKEA's AR App for Furniture
AR has unlimited possibilities but seems to have found it's niche as a marketing and information tool. IKEA has a great example of this. We can use AR to see how furniture that they have for sale will look in your living room.
The social implications of AR can be very helpful and very invasive. The information that we can receive can also be about people. In the above image, we can see that this person sitting across the table now has all of their information surrounding their head. We can see that we have a low rate of compatibility via the heart in the top right, their social media postings as well as tabs to look deeper into their personal information and other pictures. This was the tech gear of spies to see information on the bad guy on the train but now it's a way for all users to gather information about anything, or anybody, in real time.
Virtual Reality explained by The Matrix
The 1999 film The Matrix is about the best explanation of VR. People are linked to a virtual world and interact with it. The technology of completely immersing ourselves into a virtual reality complete with all the actual touch sensations, feelings and even death are not here yet, but the idea is not far off. Virtual Reality is a computer simulation of another environment that we can see, move around in and interact. No outside image superimposed but a completely new one is created for users to interact with.
Virtual Reality is in it's infancy. Right now the revolution of VR is situated around gaming. New products like the Oculus Rift are paving the way for future ventures to dive deeper into the market.
In the future, VR can also be used to help manufacturing get products to the market faster by interacting with the design instead of just seeing it on paper.
"To the extent that VR can simulate the real world, it allows students to learn while they are situated in the context where what they learn is to be applied. As we have seen, the case has been made that situated learning is both more relevant and successful than learning out of context" (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991).
Students can now study something in a classroom, dawn a VR headset and explore the place they just studied. Or, they can learn while they explore. The future of VR in education could help students learn in ways never before imagined.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are emerging technologies that have huge implications. Applications from education to entertainment make these products invaluable to our future.
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