Oculus Go or Vuzix Blade? HTC Vive Focus or Skully AR helmet? Bose AR sunglasses or Magic Leap? Hmm… tough call, right? You kinda want them all. Truth is, although manufacturers are racing to grab customers’ attention for one of the two technologies, AR and VR are not similar enough to decide easily between them. Each offers a divergent but equally alluring experience, a fact that became shockingly obvious during our talk with Greg DeCamp, Director of Product Management VR & AR at Xperi, during Mobile World Congress.
Greg is a gamer himself with a guilty pleasure called Robo Recall (Oculus Rift game, anyone?). So, you’d assume he’s a die-hard VR fan and would join that camp instantly. Well, you’d be… wrong. In fact, DeCamp surprised us when he stated unapologetically: “I think there’s more opportunity in the AR space“.
Woah, back up. Why? Well, the explanation is quite simple: “VR is awesome for games and it’s the way to take you someplace that isn’t where you are, in a fantasy world. AR is [about] improving where you are or enhancing where you are. So, [let’s say] I get the opportunity to see the pyramids, when I put [the device] on, I’ll see all sorts of additional data.”
As cliché as it sounds, AR devices and technology can actually make this world a better place. Instead of pretending you’re a different person in a different world in VR, you get to BE you and just adjust the environment to fit your needs.
AR definitely has an advantage there, but is it enough to finish in 1st place?
Not exactly. We’re just getting warmed up to augmented reality, while we’ve befriended virtual reality for a while now. Plus, as Greg pointed out, the technology involved in VR has improved enough to allow for more freedom in that imaginary world: “You’re going to see a lot of inside-out tracking. […] I think that’s gonna be a big change. A couple of years ago it was the birth of VR, now it’s kind of the baptism of VR in that it will drive much better adoption, it will be more engaging because people can actually move around.”
At this point, I think it’s safe to expect a tie. One of AR’s main strengths, portability, will definitely continue to be the focus of manufacturers. Unlike VR headsets, there’s no tethering when it comes to AR smart glasses. These wearables will only become lighter and more immersive, believes Greg, as companies will bring depth-sensing and 3D audio with improved speakers to them. Plus, logging in will be a piece of cake – no controllers needed, just iris recognition.