Author: Eric Anderson, Project Manager

Technology is growing and improving at an exponential speed. Consumers are presented with so many different and new forms of technology. A couple of these items are virtual reality and augmented reality. Does the average consumer really know the difference between virtual and augmented reality, though?

Virtual reality (VR) totally immerses the user in a virtual world where no reality is present. The user would have difficulty distinguishing what is real and what isn’t. The Nintendo Virtual Boy was one of the more visible VR machines. It was released in the mid-1990s and was discontinued about a year later. The Virtual Boy console lacked in development and immersion and was ultimately a disaster for Nintendo. Nintendo has yet to reattempt a breakthrough in the VR market, and with Sony working on the Project Morpheus headset and Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift, it might be pretty difficult for Nintendo to get back into the industry with a virtual headset.

Augmented reality (AR) has found more success in the advertising space than virtual reality. I believe the growing success in this realm is because developers are able to allow users to interact with virtual information in a real-world setting. Shameless plug incoming, the Chuck E. Cheese augmented reality app that was developed at Click Here Labs has shown incredible results with well over a million engagement sessions. You can view the case study here.

One of the most popular devices to utilize AR is Google Glass, and it’s getting some help with Layar, which is an app you can download on your Glass. Check out the video below to see how this works in the real world.

 

Both technologies are the same in that they want to enhance the user’s perception of reality, though they do it in very different ways. With AR, users are able to still view everything around them, but are also able to interact with virtual elements, which makes more sense for attempting to sell or market individual items. For example, if a user downloads the free Aurasma app, then he or she can scan certain print ads to make them come to life, as seen here with Lexus.

It currently feels as if VR is more successful in the video game and social networking industries. An example of VR social networking is Second Life, where users create an avatar and can wander around that world spending Linden Dollars, Second Life’s currency, to buy and sell services and virtual goods.

The possibilities are endless for either piece of technology, and I can’t wait to see where we are headed with both of these. As I stated earlier, I think VR has its place in the video game world for total immersive experiences and shouldn’t be considered for driving certain products to consumers. I personally prefer AR because it’s real and is used in real-world situations. Once the AR products become more readily available to the public, then I think it’s only a matter of time before things start taking off.