Why Augmented Reality Will Beat Virtual Reality

It’s the ultimate geek wet dream. You are in your living room and suddenly Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are hanging out on your couch or by your coffee table. A game of Dejarik appears and the Wookie beckons you forward with a roar.

This could all be possible in the near future, thanks to augmented reality. And I am absolutely ready for it. It couldn’t come a day sooner.

But, there is something else geek-kind has been toying with lately. Virtual reality. It’s all the rage right now with Oculus, HTC, and Playstation going head to head in a budding marketplace. And it’s an absolutely marvelous technology. You really do, in some cases, feel like you’ve been transported out of this world.

The future is here!

But the technology of virtual reality is still in its infancy. It’s a far cry from any kind of Neuromancer-like technology. And for now you’re confined to a whatever space you have in your home.

Although Oculus and HTC would love for you to think virtual reality is going to be the most popular gaming and computing technology in the next fifty years. I’m pretty skeptical about this idea. At least with the technology we have today. And the experts agree with me on this one.

Let me break it down for you and see if you too can see the future.

VR Is Awesome….Sort Of

Don’t get me wrong, now. I love virtual reality. I mean, this has been the dream of all tech geeks and gamers since the sad VR applications of the 90’s. We had a lot of empty promises thrown at us back then. But it really wasn’t their fault. Their dreams just didn’t match with current technology.

Another obstacle for VR over the last couple of decades has been the price point.  The military used virtual reality technology long before it became popular among civilians. The problem has always been that the military had the money to develop new technology while civilian companies would be running at a loss if they even tried.

A Palmer

Then, in 2011, along came a Luckey man named Palmer. He didn’t like what was available in VR at the time and set out to make his own version.

To make a long story short, he was able to massively crowdfund his virtual reality system into existence. And, from $2.4 million dollars he produced affordable virtual reality for the masses: The Oculus Rift.

Later HTC joined the game and then Playstation 4. And all of this was a major leap forward for the civilian end of virtual reality.

It’s really quite impressive too. Head tracking is near perfect. You have 110 degrees of 1080p vision. And a fun way to interact with the world through hand presence that’s reminiscent of Nintendo’s failure of a device, the PowerGlove.

But, good VR is still fairly expensive and the cheaper mobile versions aren’t that great. Plus, these early drafts of VR still have some visual problems like the annoying god rays and screen door effect. So, the technology has a long ways to go before perfection can be achieved.

Why Augmented Reality Is The Future

While VR is hogging the stage at the moment, AR or Augmented Reality will soon rise above the noise and stun the world. At least, that’s how I see it.

But it takes a little bit of faith to see this at the moment.

AR As It Stands

AR has actually been around for quite a while. Well, sort of.

The first commercial use was in 1998 when Sportvision used a computer system to add a yellow line for the down marker to a live NFL game. Since then mobile technology has enabled a faux AR with cameras and computer animation overlays. And Google tried its hand with the failed Google Glass.

But true augmented reality has yet to arrive in consumers’ hands. Magic Leap and Microsoft are the front runners in creating an actual AR headset that will paint your reality in fantasy. But again, right now, even the dev kit for the Hololense is $3000. That’s a discouraging number considering Oculus’s DK1 was only $350.

But don’t lose heart yet! I’m about to tell you why I still think this technology will beat VR.

Why Then, Eric?

Let’s go back to VR. The biggest downfall to VR is it’s seclusion affect. It really does immerse you in another world. But you are also cut off from everything else.

Nobody wants to be permanently cut off from the rest of the world. We’re not living in a Wall-E world yet. Although, maybe if you gave me a hover chair…

Despite the fear induced satire out there, AR will eventually be ubiquitous in our daily lives.

We’ll use it for directions to the mall. We’ll use it to interface with stores and marketing, erasing the need for ugly billboards along our expansive highways. No longer will we need computer monitors.

You won’t have to take your eyes away from your cooking to see the recipe. Architects will be able to see their finished product on the actual plot of land before it’s even built. So will contractors. And homeowners.

I could fill pages and pages and pages with augmented reality applications in the real world. I really couldn’t do that with virtual reality.

Conclusion: Augmented Reality Will Win The Fight

Virtual Reality will hold a long-standing reign in the world of technology. But I really do believe that AR is going to make strides in the next five to ten years. It will definitely surpass the usefulness of virtual reality by light years.

I for one can’t wait to get my hands on a Magic Leap or a Hololens. I really do want to play a game of 3D Chess with Spock in my living room. Or have an excuse to throw out my old monitor because I now wear it on my head.

But, I’m going to have to be patient. The technology is budding, and it’s already blowing us out of the water.

Do you think augmented reality is the next big thing? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below. And, as always, keep it real.