The craze that is Pokémon Go has placed augmented reality firmly in the mainstream, with more than 100 million people now engaging in a technology that had previously been the preserve of techies and gamers.
But despite the fact that Pokémon Go is the most downloaded and highest grossing mobile app of all time, millions of its users aren’t even aware that they’re dabbling in augmented reality (AR) – or indeed, what it is, and how it differs from virtual reality (VR). Let’s take a brief look at these two technologies.
Understanding augmented reality and virtual reality
In the case of Pokémon Go, users are experiencing augmented reality – a new technology that embeds digital elements into real-life situations. For players of the wildly popular mobile game, it means seeing images of their real surroundings with digital graphics superimposed. In a nutshell, AR is the merging of virtual reality and real life.
Virtual reality meanwhile doesn’t incorporate any real-life elements. Instead, it’s a fully computer-generated, three-dimensional simulation of specific environments, like outer space or a Formula 1 race track.
Because of the way in which VR is generated, a user feels like they’re actually able to physically interact with the environment they’re seeing. They may feel, for instance, as if they really are driving a car, flying through space, picking up objects or building contraptions with their hands. This is thanks to special equipment such as glasses or goggles, headsets with screens inside them, or gloves fitted with sensors.
Some of today’s most popular VR headsets include the Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR. For those who can’t afford the fairly steep prices associated with this equipment, VR arcades and cafés are popping up throughout SA to put gamers and thrill-seekers in the driving seat – so to speak – without the high costs. It also alleviates the need to invest in the Fibre Internet infrastructure ideally required to support these online games.
Itching to have AR and VR in your life? Start here
You’ll need a fairly good Internet connection – Fibre Internet is recommended for optimal speed and uninterrupted playing time – and a sense of adventure!
If you loved this topic, read our article about Pokémon Go.