The AR v VR question has become a frequent topic of debate in tech circles. To get a clearer picture of this issue, it is important to understand that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are not synonyms. In the former, we are dealing with the use of computer technologies designed to create a simulated environment.
This approach differs from traditional interfaces in that the individual user is positioned at the centre of the experience. The old idea of an individual sitting in front of a screen has changed completely, thanks to Virtual Reality, which has made it possible to interact with 3D virtual worlds which stimulate all the senses.
In order to break down the characteristics of this technology, it is important to remember that it involves special videos which, through the use of extremely sophisticated parameters, are able to provide a re-constructed view of real environments and offer a fully immersive experience.
So what is Augmented Reality? In this case we are referring to the use, via a computer, of sensors and algorithms capable of reproducing objects in 3D graphics and positioning them as they would be seen through a video camera. In this way, the virtually-generated images are juxtaposed over those of the real world.
To achieve all this requires the use of a device equipped with a video camera – which could be a smartphone, tablet or even the infamous Smart glasses – onto which a specific software has been loaded. Each time the device user focuses on a particular object, this is recognised by the software and presented to the user as perfectly incorporated into the real environment.
Augmented Reality is therefore, thanks to the possession of an enormous amount of data, able to enable the creation of images and animations. The applications linked to the world of AR are often used together with IoT data by companies, who are thus able to redefine the entire production and distribution chain of their products.
This information clearly illustrates the difference between the two approaches: in the case of Augmented Reality we are dealing with the real world enhanced by animations and graphics of virtual derivation. Virtual Reality on the other hand, is characterised by experiences which can only be experienced in totally virtual environments.
When discussing the question of AE versus VR, several advantages should be mentioned, regarding in particular the way in which we process information. Several scientific articles have shown that in the majority of cases, the information absorbed by human beings is received mainly via the sense of sight.
Furthermore, the ability to absorb content is strictly limited by the mental capacity of the single individual, depending on the so-called cognitive load. For this reason, each task we carry out leads to a reduction in the resources available for other activities. One typical example is reading some instructions on a computer and then putting them into practice. This situation requires a larger cognitive load than merely listening to the instructions.
The force of the cognitive load greatly depends on the difference between the form in which the information is presented to the users and the way in which they apply the instructions received. This process is not required in those contexts characterised by a totally visual perception. In such situations in fact, a much larger quantity of information can be absorbed in the same length of time.
It is for this reason that an image which superimposes information over the existing physical world is able to reduce the cognitive load significantly. This explains why, when considering the AR v VR question, it is Augmented Reality which is considered by businesses to be an extremely efficient vehicle for transmitting content of various types to users.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith