Even though the technology is still in its early stages, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are growing in popularity with each passing day.
Of course, the jaw-dropping expansion is the result of massive investments. For instance, virtual reality statistics show that the value of the entire VR industry could reach $160 billion by 2023! China and the US are investing the most, but other countries and regions are also aware of the potential of virtual reality.
So, what’s the catch? What makes VR and AR so attractive and appealing? To answer these questions, we decided to explore the features of virtual reality in full detail. Therefore, let’s jump right into the fantastic virtual world of head-mounted displays.
What are virtual reality and augmented reality (VR and AR) in the first place?
Before we proceed, we should first explain the concepts that we want to talk about in this guide. After all, virtual reality technologies are not yet mainstream. Many people did not have the opportunity to try out some of the modern headsets.
Even so, the phenomenon of virtual reality is taking over the world, no doubt about it. Sooner rather than later, we will all have access to affordable and intuitive devices.
In essence, virtual reality is an advanced technology that allows consumers to immerse themselves in a digital world. In other words, VR and AR devices can modify our environment. They do so by replacing our real-life surroundings with a computer-generated background. Or, such as the case with AR, these technologies can superimpose holograms into our actual environment.
With that said, AR and VR are not one and the same. A couple of notable elements separate these two sides of the same coin.
What is difference between virtual reality and augmented reality
VR and AR are rethinking the modern workplace, but these technologies are visible in many areas of life. But despite their similarities, AR and VR come with different features and possibilities. Here is a closer look at the characteristics of each of these systems.
VR is a technology that offers a complete immersion into a computer-generated world. While using a VR headset, the outside world is not visible. Instead, users only see the images shown by a head-mounted display. To put it in simple terms – VR devices will take over your vision and transport you to a whole new location.
As a fully immersive system, VR is an ideal technology for the gaming industry. Nonetheless, these wearables can be useful in a range of sectors. On top of that, VR headsets are getting better with each new generation. Nowadays, they come equipped with motion controls facilitated by a bunch of sensors and cameras. The so-called 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) technology is the basis for the modern virtual reality wearables.
In conclusion, we could say that virtual reality provides users with a simulation of another environment. Complete immersion in the digital world is the main feature of VR.
On the other hand, AR is not as immersive as VR. The idea of Augmented Reality is to add to our current real-life view. In other words, to “augment” the experience. So, how do AR devices achieve this goal?
Well, if you are using dog ears as a Snapchat filter – then you know what we mean. Augmented Reality projects images on top of the objects from our surroundings. In most cases, those 3D decorations are similar to what we often refer to as “holograms.”
For instance, the Pokémon GO craze in 2016 was an excellent example of how AR can superimpose “magical” objects into the streets and squares.
As a rule of thumb, AR-based gadgets are cheaper and more accessible than VR devices. Also, it’s possible to “separate” the AR technology and use it independently from headsets and similar wearables. As we know, you only need a functional smartphone to go out and catch all those Pokémon.
What are the Most Popular Virtual Reality(VR) Headsets?
Now that we know the differences between AR and VR, we can move on and examine the features of the most popular devices in the current market.
In the last couple of years, head-mounted displays dominated the headlines in the tech industry. Several companies are locked in a competitive race, and the consumers are the ones who are reaping the benefits of this situation. So, here are some of the prominent products in the world of virtual reality in 2020.
- Sony PlayStation VR
According to sales numbers, Sony’s VR headset is the undisputed leader in the market. To be honest, this gadget is far less expensive than its competitors. The affordable price is one of the main assets of Sony PlayStation VR. But it’s not the only one. In fact, this headset comes with motion control support and responsive display to provide users with an immersive experience. On top of that, Sony offers a great selection of games for PlayStation VR.
- HTC Vive Cosmos
The Vive range from HTC is another famous line of VR wearable devices. Alongside the remarkable HTC Vive and Vive Pro, Cosmos is also capable of delivering a premium virtual experience. Moreover, the Cosmos is the flagship of the Vive line of products, and that is why it sets the gold standard for the industry. Some of the features of this model are room-tracking technology and super smooth graphics. Likewise, HTC Vive Cosmos offers an extensive collection of games.
- Oculus Quest
When it comes to setting the standards for the VR industry, the Oculus range also belongs to the top shelf. Their high-end model, Oculus S, is on a different level when compared to other gadgets in the market. However, the characteristics of Oculus Quest are jaw-dropping as well. This stand-alone headset comes with an OLED display with a resolution of 1440×1600 per eye. Nevertheless, the main feature of this model is the lack of cables. As a result, you can enjoy full freedom of movement and play games for 2-3 hours after a full charge.
- Mobile-based headsets
In the recent period, smartphone-based headsets are experiencing rapid market growth. The big names in the mobile phone industry are experimenting with virtual reality as well. For instance, Samsung Gear VR is a lightweight headset that can provide consumers with a virtual experience on the go. Since this technology is in its early stages, not every smartphone is compatible with VR systems. But the experts agree that mobile-based VR devices are the future of virtual reality headsets.
The History of Virtual Reality(VR)
As you can see, VR devices come in all shapes and sizes. After all, virtual reality statistics report that more than 171 million people in the world were using VR in 2018. Meanwhile, these numbers have skyrocketed! In the US, 42.9 million consumers use virtual reality headsets at least once a month.
But how did it all come to be? What does the history of virtual reality look like? Well, allow us to take you through the most significant milestones in the development of VR devices.
According to history books, the first traces of VR appeared in the late 1950s. To be precise, Morton Heilig designed his famous “Sensorama” machine back in 1957. This multimedia theatre cabinet was able to stimulate several senses at once. As such, Sensorama was able to provide an interactive experience.
Another pioneer in the development of VR was the so-called Headsight, which appeared in 1961. Experts agree that this gimmick was the first head-mounted display in the world. Moreover, Headsight was also the first device to feature motion-tracking technology.
A few years later, in 1966, the US Air Force developed its first flight simulator. As you can guess, these simulators are the predecessors of the high-tech VR training modules that pilots are using these days.
Another notable landmark in the history of virtual reality was “The Sword of Damocles.” Besides its awe-inspiring name, this enormous contraption was cumbersome and heavy as well. Ivan Sutherland created this device at Harvard, and it seems that the Sword was the first head-mounted AR/VR display known to humankind.
After that, the experiments with virtual reality took off during the 1980s and 90s. For example, the designers of arcade games often tried to incorporate AR and VR elements into the gameplay. Of course, the evolution of virtual reality had seen its share of flops as well.
But the interesting thing is that the term “virtual reality” did not appear until the late 1980s. In other words, Jaron Lanier coined and popularized the name in 1987. So, it took more than thirty years of intense research and experiments to actually name the field.
Needless to say, the new millennium revived the interest for AR and VR. For instance, the prototype for Oculus Rift came out in 2010. In 2014, Facebook managed to acquire this emerging brand.
Aside from PC-related headsets, mobile VR was also in expansion. In 2015, Google presented the Cardboard VR headset. Also, we already mentioned that the chase after the rare Pokémon in 2016 cemented the position of AR in the mainstream tech culture.
What Are the Areas of Application for Virtual Reality en Augmented Reality?
Virtual reality evolved through the years, and we now have access to powerful head-mounted displays. No matter if you decide to use an AR or VR-based headset, the experience can be overwhelming and invigorating. That’s one of the reasons why as many as 68 million VR devices were sold in 2017.
According to stats on VR in the US, 75% of the population are familiar with virtual reality technology. Of course, the millennials are the dominant users, and they account for 44% of those who purchase a VR headset. Studies also show that 55% of Gen Z-ers have tried one of the head-worn devices at least once.
So, how can we use virtual reality? Here are the industries and areas where VR and AR are making the most profound impact. After that, we will discuss how the world of tomorrow will look as well as the potential use of virtual reality.
Without a doubt, the gaming industry is the most fertile ground for VR gadgets and gimmicks. With the help of VR headsets, players can immerse themselves in the game worlds, without outside distractions. Statistics say that the gaming industry holds 40.5% of the VR market share.
Similarly, the casino industry offers a welcoming environment for virtual reality technologies. For instance, the live casino games with VR headsets can provide a fantastic playing experience. Multiplayer games of chance are much more exciting than solo play, and VR can make you feel as if you are sitting in the same room with the other players.
We already mentioned the simulators used in aviation, but the military relies on virtual reality in many areas. Training simulators can reduce costs and provide safety to soldiers. At the same time, VR technology can expose recruits to a variety of nerve-cracking situations. In the future, heads-up displays could be a standard piece of military equipment.
Designers and architects can also benefit from the features of VR and AR. To be precise, virtual reality can help them create 3D models and explore their characteristics from all sides. True-to-life models can even allow architects to step into the buildings and explore space before spending money on real-life models.
The sports industry is another area where virtual reality is making noticeable progress. The good news is that VR can benefit both the players as well as the audiences. For instance, VR can be one of the most effective training aids. It can improve analysis or simulate different game-related situations. On top of that, the viewers can use VR to watch matches in a new way.
– Real Estate
Similar to architecture, the real estate industry can also benefit from the rise of virtual reality. Sooner rather than later, prospective buyers will be able to visit the properties without driving to the location. Simulations will allow you to look around the premises conveniently. VR technologies will scan the houses and then offer interactive models to consumers.
Believe it or not, VR and AR offer a range of therapeutic benefits as well. For that reason, the modern healthcare industry relies heavily on virtual reality. The digital environment is fully controlled, which helps patients who are suffering from PTSD or anxiety. Also, surgeons are using AR when doing complex procedures.
One of the main characteristics of virtual reality is interactivity. As such, this technology is a perfect fit for our classrooms. For example, teachers can take the pupils on exciting field trips with zero cost and zero safety risks. In any case, VR can boost engagement and retention, simply because this system offers fun new ways for learning.
– Automotive industry
The car manufacturing industry also relies on VR to facilitate the design process. In other words, the designers can experiment with shapes and forms before investing in expensive prototypes. AR and VR can boost productivity as well as creativity. Likewise, VR technology could make test drives much safer than they are now.
Last but not least, let’s also mention the use of virtual reality in retail. According to experts, VR is the future of shopping. For instance, corporations like IKEA or eBay are already implementing AR in the purchasing process. The so-called body-scanning technology will soon be an ordinary component of the retail world.
What Can We Expect from Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality in the Future?
Judging by virtual reality statistics, the expenditures in VR will grow by 78.5% in 2020. Even now, the US and China, respectively, are spending more than $6 billion per year on virtual reality.
So, where will those investments take us? What will VR and AR look like in the future?
Well, experts agree that the merger of AR and VR is inevitable. These technologies will blend into each other, revolutionizing the digital experience along the way. As a result, virtual reality should go mainstream soon.
Of course, the advancements in technology will reduce the size of the headsets. Consequently, VR technology will become affordable and accessible. What’s more, some theorists argue that we should already aspire towards creating a mind-controlled AR gadget. Until that happens, self-contained devices will be the norm.
After everything we covered here, it is clear that virtual reality comes with great potential. The flexibility and diversity of VR and AR allow them to conquer any industry. From military and healthcare to education and gaming – virtual reality is everywhere! Of course, the areas of application will continue to grow as we move forward.
Yet, we should not forget that virtual reality could bring several dangers as well. For example, AR addiction is already a recognized condition. According to research, 60% of parents in the US are concerned about the safety and health issues of VR. Nonetheless, every technology comes with good and bad sides, and it’s down to us to use it constructively and adequately.
Blogger and contributor at kommandotech.com
With a degree in transport and traffic engineering, Miljkovic is a digital marketing expert, financial enthusiast, and entrepreneur extraordinaire. He takes joy in analyzing economic trends and translating them into engaging articles. He is a fitness and nutrition expert who loves spending his free time cooking for friends, playing basketball, and playing his favorite 90s tunes.