Although Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been around and talked about for years, a number of new consumer products are arriving in the market with the promise of finally bringing this technology into the mainstream.
Microsoft Stores will be at the forefront of making these products available to consumers, allowing them to experience this amazing technology first-hand. We’ll be assorting three systems: the first two, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, fall into the virtual reality category. Lastly, there is Microsoft HoloLens, which embraces both virtual and augmented realities to create a new, mixed reality.
What are virtual reality and augmented reality?
Let’s take a look at virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and see how they compare. Put simply, both VR and AR tinker with our reality. AR enhances it while VR diverts us from it.
Virtual reality is all about the creation of an immersive, artificial world that users can interact with in a seemingly real or physical way. The better it is designed, the more difficult it is to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Hardware and software are used to fool our senses—we suspend disbelief and believe we are actually there, experiencing this virtual world in person. VR is usually achieved by wearing a VR helmet or goggles similar to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
The user is isolated from the real world while immersed in a world that’s completely fabricated. VR is typically used for things like simulating a real environment for training and education, or creating an imagined environment for a game or telling a story.
VR’s complete immersion can pack a powerful emotional punch—what happens inside the headset makes you feel something in your head, heart and gut. But this isolation and complete focus on the content also comes with limitations: users are prevented from interacting with their surroundings.
Their ability to walk around is restricted and they can’t see what is right next to them or interact with other people who may be in the room. VR is a powerful way to experience content, but is not practical for interacting in the real world.
Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life. Developers can create images that blend in with contents in the real world. With AR, users are able to interact with virtual objects in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two. For example, HoloLens has a clear eyepiece which lets you see your surroundings. Users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects—3D holograms—around them. This allows AR to add contextual layers of information to our experiences in real time.
Like VR, AR can be used for education, training, productivity and gaming. It just does so differently, providing a new way to see and interact with the world around you.
If you would like to try out some of these devices and experience VR/AR, stop by the Willowbrook Mall Microsoft Store for a free demo!
Nick Carnevale is a business sales specialist with Microsoft Business Direct for the New Jersey market. He can be reached at (862) 242-6741 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Microsoft’s products, you can visit www.microsoftstore.com/willowbrook.