Virtual and Augmented Reality applications represent the next stage in human interaction with technology. With the recent mainstream success of Pokemon Go, Daniel Short (Yr10 student) from St. Mary's Catholic School decided to research both realities whilst on work experience here.
In March 2015, we wrote about a tale of two realities, Virtual and Augmented Reality. At this time, both of these were still in their infancy, and had not yet been widely used in everyday life, and things like google glass or Microsoft HoloLens were extremely expensive, making it almost impossible for everyday buyers to get their hands on a piece of this advanced and complex tech. Therefore, I have decided to write this article, to explain just how far these two new realities have come in the last 18 months, and where they are being used in society and everyday life.
Just a reminder, augmented reality is technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world and overlays virtual 3d graphics onto our own view of the real world. Therefore, when wearing an augmented reality product, a person is still able to have a larger sense of reality, as everything can be clearly seen, although many other 3d graphics are laid on top of surfaces and all around, and with the sheer complexity that augmented reality is reaching, it could be sometimes difficult for a person to know what is really there and what isn’t and is just a visualisation mind trick.
On the other hand, virtual reality is the computer-generated simulation of a 3 dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real way. It immerses us in a 360 degree view in new worlds with little or no sensory input from the room that your body is actually in. As a person looks around they visualise the different aspects of the new virtual world they have been placed into through wearing the virtual reality headset.
Examples of Augmented and Virtual Reality
As I have said, since the article in March 2015, both realities have moved on to such an extent and they are both now being used in everyday life, as they are easy and practical, and can give people opportunities to do things that they never could be done before, in order to make their lives more productive, so here are some of the revolutionary products we are already using today:
Augmented Reality (AR)
Topshop Kinect Dressing rooms: These brand new high tech dressing rooms, adds a whole new meaning to dressing room and the way they are used. These Topshop dressing rooms, allow shoppers to virtually try on their purchases both quickly and easily, to save time and energy.
Shisedio Makeup Mirror: This extremely complexed mirror, takes an image of a shoppers face, before showing them what the latest cosmetics products will look like on their face.
American Apparel colour changing app: This is a fairly new app, that allows shoppers in American Apparel shops to scan any item within the store using their phone, in order to then see the price of the product, reviews and sizes. Giving the shopper the ability to see the product in any colour they want instantly from their phone screen making the shopping experience much quicker and easier for them to get the perfect outfit.
De Beers ‘Forevermark Fitting’: This augmented reality download allows shoppers to try on the Forvermark clothing and jewellery collection, and see how different pieces would look in certain lights, and against certain skin tones.
Laforge Shima: These are a pair of augmented reality glasses, which display your phone notifications in your clear field of view. They know when you are moving fast or slow and can be used as an activity tracker. However unlike older AR glasses like google glass and Microsoft HoloLens, as discussed in the older article, these revolutionary glasses look just like normal glasses, as the hologram projector, is hidden within the glasses at the temple, so it is out of view.
YouTube and videos: Since the making of 360 degree cameras, YouTube have made it possible, that when watching a 360 degree video on YouTube, there is a virtual reality setting, so that the user can put their phone into their own VR headset, and watch the videos as if they are there, putting them in a complete different world, with no sense of the room they are in.
McDonalds Happy Meals: In some countries such as Sweden, happy meal boxes are being made so that they can be easily constructed into a simple, cardboard virtual reality headset, similar to google cardboard, that users can slot their phone into and start watching 360 degree videos or VR games.
Topshop Catwalk experience: This is a similar experience to the Topshop Kinect dressing rooms, however shoppers are instead of seeing the clothes on themselves, are able to be visually transported to a 360 degree realistic catwalk, in which shoppers are able to see models wearing certain clothing from the Topshop clothing line.
Test Driving: For the first time ever, people looking to purchase a car are able to test drive and feel the experience of a certain car, without the need to even go outside or move. Many different car companies like Volvo are creating 360 degree virtual reality videos, which can then be used with a person’s phone using google cardboard or a much more advanced and expensive model like an oculus rift.
The Ongoing Issues
As time has passed, and people are learning more about technology, products have been advanced meaning many problems from our previous article about AR and VR have been fixed. However, both still have wider and ongoing issues, that haven’t yet been dealt with, or even may never be able to be dealt with, most likely due to the nature of the technology, especially Virtual Reality…
The first big issue is the fact that both of these different technological realities, but mainly with virtual reality, can make the user feel very sick, fairly easy. It's hard to predict when it'll happen. For different people, it happens with different games and experiences. Virtual Reality safety manuals recommend taking breaks frequently. You can also adjust the fit of the headset, which isn't always easy - tightening or loosening straps, plus fixing focal distance or even eye distance takes a lot of time to fiddle with.
Some game developers have slowly tweaked the design of some games to be less nausea-inducing -- for instance, having a cockpit around you seems to help. Maybe that's why I got nauseous in games where I was wandering freely in first-person, 'helmetless'.
VR can have neurological effects because of its eerily realistic simulated motion. "Simulator sickness" is a condition suffered in flight simulations, and "virtual reality sickness," a close cousin, has been around since the early days of VR. While lag times and app design have reduced it tremendously, it still exists at times, and I don't know anyone who hasn't had at least a few issues with fatigue, nausea or wooziness over time. Maybe it's something to get used to. Maybe the hardware still needs to improve. Maybe human beings will always need to take breaks when using VR.
Secondly, there are major danger and injury issues, due to the fact that you can’t see anything around you. Motion-sensing VR systems like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR involve standing, ducking, swinging your arms, and even briefly walking, all with a headset on your head that blocks vision and sound.
HTC Vive has a pass-through camera that can see around you, and its sensors can tell you when you're approaching a wall, but the camera features aren't always on. Many people have smashed either themselves or expensive items. Who knows if you also might swing a controller unknowingly into someone else's face? People also hit themselves, due to forgetting your own body’s relation to oneself. What about small pets or children? What about families playing together? Oculus warns to keep the Rift "out of reach from children and pets," and to "move objects or people out of your Rift space." I wouldn't trust my ability to play VR games in a crowded room unless I was sitting down.
Thirdly, having a screen like VR could seriously damage your eyes, if used for long periods of time, and many optometrists do not like or support AR or especially VR due to this. These two technologies have been developed a lot, but are still experiencing some of the problems that were in the last article. Small developments have been made to help these problems, such as eye tracking technology being used to replicate how the human eye perceives objects.
Overall, the technology of both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, are making massive advancements in the world of technology. As a result these have made large, positive impacts on the lives of many people, because as this technology becomes more well-known and researched, prices are cheaper meaning that many more people are able to use it. However, since the previous article in 2015, there are still many of the issues like the health and safety issues. Who knows, as technology develops these problems could disappear, or these problems could be ongoing and hinder the development of the realities and how useful they are? In my opinion, although developments are being made quickly, at some point this will slowly decrease. due to many problems, especially within Virtual Reality that are just unable to be fixed or changed, purely due to the nature of each technology.