Will Virtual beat out Augmented Reality in the race for the perfect altered experience?
At this year’s annual Geektime Conference for 2015, a panel of experts came together to ask how will Virtual and Augmented Reality platforms work their way into our lives over the near and not so distant future.
Leading the discussion was Pebbles’ CEO Emil Alon. On stage with him was Co-Founder and VP of Business Development Yoav Hoshen from Beyond Verbal, Water.IO, and Superb Reality, Jacky Abitbol, who serves as VP of Corporate Development at Orange, Interpret’s SVP of Research, Games, and Digital Michael Cai, and Guy Bendov, the CEO of Side-Kick Games.
What is the appeal of these technologies?
Altered reality, whether discussing VR or AR can often ignite either sharp interest or complete dismissal of the topic. This is in part due to the necessity of stretching the imagination and letting go of many restraints when approaching this type of technology.
In addressing why these kinds of innovations appeal to him, Alon explains that, “People are always looking for changes and new experiences. It all relates to changing our lives and in altering the way in which we interact with others and the objects around us.”
Hoshen responded to the question, saying that users can, “Either change the reality that they see or add to it a wide range of things.” This has a wide appeal for VR’s ability to transport a user to another place like foreign cities, jungles, or mountain tops.
Potential applications for VR and AR tech
When asked about which sectors they saw these technologies being applied to, the panel offered up a range of suggestions. One of the first ideas pertained to the entertainment industry.
There has already been some debate about how VR would figure into the entertainment industry. A major concern that has been voiced thus far is that viewers would be distracted by the surroundings and not focus on the elements that the director intended.
Alon disagrees with this perception, saying that, “In the first five minutes of a 3D movie, it is the experience of the 3D that is exciting. However as the movie goes on, the view is able to focus in on the movie. The idea is that the VR will be at the beginning to provide the hype and excitement, but within five minutes, the user can focus back to the content itself.”
Other ideas that were discussed included tourism, industrial design, real estate, communication, and medicine. In many of these instances such as medicine and industrial design, professionals can design virtual mockups before engaging with the actual patient or having to construct a full size version of their products.
Augmented Reality also has its fans who are passionate about its implementation for taking their real life experiences to the next level.
An excellent example of this is the Israeli company RideOn that has designed augmented snowboarding goggles. Users view not only the trail in front of them while speeding downhill, but also an overlay of games that they can play alone or with friends.
Taking the step to suspend reason and delve into the virtual reality
Despite the advances that have been made in this field, the experts on stage still believe that it will take some time before these technologies are moved into the mainstream.
Bendov points out that, “The experience is still new. It is a 360° screen that plays with your brain. Technically, in order to reach that amazing experience, you need to get your brain used to the environment.”
When asked which technology would win out against the other, the panel failed to offer a decisive champion. While they agreed that the VR tech was far closer to being readily available, they saw great possibilities for AR over the course of the next decade.
A significant challenge with AR says Alon is that, “AR requires the user to connect a lot more to the real world,” which is an obstacle that many have great difficulty in overcoming.