We hear a lot of talk about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) these days. Whether it’s in the conversation surrounding games, mobile or advertising, we are constantly inundated with mentions of virtual reality being the ‘future’ of just about everything. Meanwhile augmented reality is in the spotlight more than ever with high-profile uses such as Pokémon Go spreading like wildfire. But what exactly is virtual or augmented reality? Most importantly, what are the differences between the two? Here you will find the answers to these questions, as well as a look into why both have a bright future in advertising and marketing. Here you will learn why the emergence of new realities is very real indeed.
Many people mistakenly think that AR and VR are interchangeable terms referring to the same technology. Whilst they are similar, both representing the next frontier of marketing opportunity, there are also key differences.
Through augmented reality, users interact with the real world, which has digital elements added to it. Still confused? Think about Pokémon Go, the insanely popular mobile game that took the world by storm a few years back. That saw people walking the streets in search for Pokémon to catch. Seeing Pikachu sat outside your local newsagents has been a regular occurrence for players ever since.
This has great potential for a number of industries and their promotional content in the future. Retail businesses should be particularly excited about the emergence of AR, such is the desire of consumers to ‘try before you buy.’ AR tech could provide a vast array of ways to achieve exactly this, pushing retail outlets (both high street and online) towards a brighter and more profitable future.
VR tech completely immerses the user in a 100% virtual environment crafted by a computer. For this reason, VR requires a headset to be worn at all times. Whilst this could lead to us all resembling an army of robots, it is also extremely powerful technology – and very cool.
As VR is created through a computer, the possibilities really are endless. Entire worlds can be created from scratch and entered by anyone to explore. The most advanced VR experiences allow people to move around within them, travelling from place to place.
This potential comes at a price of course. A higher price for such capabilities is to be expected, but for brands it’ll be an investment that becomes more than worthwhile. Sectors such as hotel & leisure, student accommodation and the property market could be completely revolutionised as VR becomes more readily available and affordable. Imagine a hotel giving its potential customers the opportunity to step inside a virtual recreation of their rooms, informing their purchase in a way that photos never could. Imagine no longer, as now is the time.
Another element of this is 360-degree videos, which are already widely used. Using cameras with the relevant capability, you can create fully immersive videos to be enjoyed through the use of a VR headset. There are plenty of these up on YouTube to be enjoyed if you own the equipment. If you are working in an industry that lends itself well to video but you’re not yet doing 360, then it’s time to get involved. Chances are, the competition is already getting a head start.
AR Vs VR: Which is the future?
The short answer is both. There are different opportunities and benefits to each depending on your area of work or industry. Both have their own pros and cons as well. VR is expensive and requires more equipment, but it’s also endlessly creative and a truly unique experience. AR on the other hand is a bit more restricted in its vision, but it’s also cheaper, more easily accessible for users and still has its own creative possibilities. The best thing to do at this point is keep an eye on both and start to think about which has the potential to benefit your brand the most in the near future.
What about Mixed Reality?
This is a question more and more people will ask as the term ‘mixed reality’ (MR) starts to be thrown around. The truth is, MR is used to refer to two different things. They are as follows:
- Mixed reality that begins with the real world = In this form of MR, virtual objects can interact with the world in which they are placed. Often considered to be a more advanced version of AR, a prime example of this technology is the Microsoft HoloLens.
- Mixed reality built around a virtual world = The opposite side of the same coin, this form of MR could be considered an advanced VR tech. This refers to cases where the virtual world in which a person finds themselves is based around the real world, allowing further interactivity. This is different to standard VR, as that tech involves a virtual world completely separate from the real. For a good example of this, take a look at the Windows Mixed Reality video.
Whichever reality you find yourself in down the road, it is sure to bring about an abundance of creative flair, unforgettable marketing and well-earned business.
For more information on our own immersive technologies services and how they can benefit your business, visit our page here.