Virtual Reality or VR is one of the fastest growing industries today with virtually every company involved in the technology sector showing some sort of interest. Some are coming up with their own innovative products while others are choosing to capitalize on already existing virtual reality products to augment their business operations.
On augmentation of business processes, it is good to point out the difference between virtual reality and Augmented Reality “AR”. Virtual reality simulates or recreates a real life situation or an environment thereby enabling the user to experience the occasion as if it were real.
On the other hand, augmented reality integrates digital information with the user’s environment in real time thereby enabling the person to overlay different types of information in a real life setting.
However, tech enthusiasts are developing more innovative products, which continue to narrow the gap between the two in such a way that some cannot actually tell the difference.
For instance, VRtisan, a virtual reality startup which specializes in creating 3D and VR imagery for architectural projects recently revealed via a YouTube video, a product that allows architects to come up with architectural designs for buildings by interacting with the 3D space around them intuitively.
The video shows an architect using Virtual Reality game developer software Unreal in conjunction with the HTC Vive headset and motion controllers to manipulate various interior design concepts of a building.
The architectural designer puts the virtual reality headset from HTC and uses the hand-held motion controllers as the input interface for the Unreal engine. He is then able to create walls, furniture, and doors, among other houseware virtually out of nothing.
The HTC Vive alongside Oculus Rift has been ranked amongst the best virtual reality headsets in the industry and it appears as though the list of applicable uses continues to grow longer.
When you assess the applicability of virtual reality as demonstrated in VRtisan’s video, it shows a closer relationship with augmented reality.
For instance, with Microsoft HoloLens, which is one of the leading devices in augmented reality, users can overlay high-definition holograms depicting the wild and nature in a real life setting to interact with the moment as if they were actually out in the wild.
When launching the device, Microsoft demonstrated a situation where the user of the device is able to bring nature into the living room. This is pretty close to what VRtisan has been able to demonstrate using the YouTube video.
The architect, in this case, does not bring the anatomy of the human body or earthly plants to the living room, but rather, using the space around him, creates furniture and fittings to come up with a stunning interior design of a building. He technically interacts with the environment as if it were real.
One major difference though is that with Microsoft HoloLens, the entire equipment comes from a single manufacturer whereas, with VRtisan’s demonstration, it’s a combination of tools and devices/technologies from two other companies.
While Oculus Rift, which Facebook acquired two years ago is theoretically one of the pioneers in the virtual reality industry, the company failed to capitalize on the augmented reality market, which analysts predict to have a bigger potential than virtual reality. Microsoft though didn’t blink.
Illustratively, the combined augmented/virtual reality market is expected to reach $120 billion by the year 2020, according to a report published by Digi-Capital early this year. This is down from last year’s prediction of about $150 billion. However, virtual reality is only expected to account for about $30 billion with augmented reality topping $90 billion.
Nonetheless, while the difference in numbers appears to be extremely large, the difference in the application to various industries could be much smaller within the next few years. VRtisan’s recent video demonstration shows that in time, virtual reality could be applied to virtually anything.
Ekke Piirisild, the director of VRtisan told Dezeen that “the tools are developing quite quickly. It’s already being used by architectural visualizers and I wouldn’t be surprised if some architects are starting to use it. There will be better tools in future.”
In another publication, Andy Millns from Inition, a 3D production company said that augmented and virtual reality visualization technologies will soon be wrapped in a single device. This illustrates how the two technologies are getting closer in terms of application and development.
In summary, while Microsoft licensed patents for basically all technology related to augmented reality, the theoretical difference between the two is becoming smaller, and soon, it will be hard to separate them.
[Image via Microsoft]