The year of 2016 was when the Pokémon Go phenomenon happened. The mobile game, which allows players to locate, capture, battle with various Pokémon that appears on the smartphone screen as if they were at the same real-world location as the player, brought the idea of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology to the mainstream. The general misconception is that AR and VR is the same thing. They are similar, yet different.
Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It integrates digital information with the user’s environment in the real time by overlaying new information on top of the user’s current reality. Therefore, AR allows its user to make more sense out of the existing environment and experience a more meaningful reality.
Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user believes and accepts it as a real environment. It creates a sensory experience, such as sight, touch, hearing, and smell. By doing so, VR, which is computer generated and immersive, allows its users to have an experience that seems “real” and escapes from their actual surrounding.
Both AR and VR exist to enrich and enhance the user’s experience. However, AR only has the ability to elevate the experience in their actual surrounding, while VR is able to “transport” users to other surroundings, which are artificially created. With such ability, there is no wonder why various industries are beginning to utilize them in healthcare, military, and aviation to name a few. In fact, a survey conducted by Brabant Development Agency (BOM), an economic development agency in Netherlands, predicted that by 2025, the shipment of AR/VR headset and the revenue of AR/VR software worldwide will reach 240 million and 24.3 billion euros respectively.
You may already use AR/VR without realizing it. When you are using IKEA Place application to visualize new furniture in your home, you already experienced AR. A movie, “The Martian,” gives a VR experience to fans on what it would be like to live on Mars by releasing “The Martian VR Experience”. These instances show that various businesses are trying to integrate AR/VR to their operations, in order to give consumers a simplified solution or a different experience.
As customers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding, businesses should be more innovative in making ways to engage with them. AR/VR technology is the right solution for businesses who want to take their customers’ satisfaction to the next level.