With seemingly endless opportunities for IT leaders across a variety of industries to leverage VR and AR to support their digital strategies, how is a product owner to know what to do with these technologies and which one is best suited for their needs? Let’s begin by defining each and looking at how VR and AR are different.
Virtual Reality (VR)Virtual reality replaces the user’s entire environment via a headset or displayed projection. The user is fully immersed in the computer-generated environment with audio, visual, and even touch (vibrations, etc.) stimuli, leaving no real-life elements intact. A good example of VR can be found in flight simulators used to train pilots. Everything that the pilot sees, hears, and feels (except the actual flight controls) is virtual. The sky, terrain, and other aircraft are all computer-generated.
Augmented Reality (AR)On the other hand, augmented reality enhances the real-world environment by adding virtual elements (commonly via a mobile device) where needed / wanted. A bit of a newer technology on the scene, AR leaves most of the real-world environment intact – only supplementing it with computer-generated features.
The most widely known example of AR can be found in the Pokemon GO app, developed for use on mobile phones. The popular game utilizes augmented reality to place virtual creatures that users can see and interact with in their real-world environment.
Another example of AR can increasingly be found in offerings from companies, like Augmented Furniture, that want to help consumers make better purchasing decisions. In the case of interior design and home improvement, the technology provides users with a means for trying out different pieces of furniture and décor without ever having to leave the house.
Choosing a RealityDetermining which technology is best for your business requires looking closely at your users and their needs, as well as at trends within your market and what you need to deliver to remain competitive. Devoting time and energy to user and market research on the front end will position you to succeed, whichever path you choose.
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