Virtual reality is a new technology. False. Augmented reality is hard to make. False. Only gamers can enjoy virtual reality. False. Virtual and augmented reality have been around for years and rapidly gained popularity in many fields, but the terms are still relatively new in mainstream media. Even though talk about VR and AR has gone up, there are still several common misconceptions about AR and VR technology that are simple misguided statements by those who just don't know any better. Let's take some time to dispel those misconceptions.
Myth: Virtual and augmented reality are new technologies.
Truth: New is a relative term, so if we compared the time that XR technology has been around to the first introduction of the concept to media, then yes. VR and AR are new technologies. But the first real idea for augmented reality came in a sci-fi book by L. Frank Baum titled The Master Key over 100 years ago. Compared to that, many things are new.
In truth, while not yet mainstream, the practical use of AR has been in effect for dozens of years already. The first flight simulator for training pilots was designed way back in 1929, only a few short years after Baum's death. As for its introduction into mainstream society, both AR and VR have been used widely since the early 90s. Consumer VR headsets were released by gaming companies around this time, and were also used in arcades and amusement parks.
Myth: You have to be a gamer to appreciate virtual reality.
Truth: No. While VR did gain notoriety in gaming and was introduced more rapidly to wider audiences via the gaming community, virtual reality has plenty more practical applications than expanding entertainment. Here are just a few:
1. Virtual reality training (VRT) is commonplace and has been almost since its creation. It's used not only for pilots and other industries where simulations are instrumental in onboarding well trained employees into the workforce (like construction, manufacturing, and healthcare), but in areas like retail, education, and customer service.
2. Virtual reality therapy enables an extra level of exposure therapy, where certain events or circumstances trigger post traumatic responses in the patient. Virtual reality also enables users to expose themselves to areas that they fear like heights, spiders, flying and more in order to reduce the fear response surrounding the circumstance.
3. Virtual reality in education has become one of the main ways to use virtual and augmented reality. Its benefits include faster learning rates, higher information retention, greater immersive learning, and more user engagement, a key element in learning. VR can be used in all core subjects like science, history, and math, and can also be used for elective subjects like art and theater. Its gamified nature makes it a natural tool for teachers in early education, and helps students to take charge of their own learning process.
Myth: Augmented reality needs glassware to use.
Truth: Augmented reality needs processors, sensors, and display, all things that come with your standard smartphone. In fact, augmented reality is the most accessible of the XR technologies because it doesn't need an expensive headset to operate. That's not to say that there aren't AR glasses. There are several already on the market and even more in development by top development companies. The glasses allow AR to be used more practically and hands free, but no. You don't need them.
Myth: Augmented reality and virtual reality are the same thing.
Truth: Sort of. Not really, but sort of. Augmented and virtual reality are on opposite ends of the XR spectrum. They have some similarities, like the way that they extend the visual reality that we can see. But that's really where the similarities end. Augmented reality makes the digital world extend out into the physical world, enabling the user to interact with digital objects in a physical space. Virtual reality makes the physical world extend into the digital, allowing the user to interact with the digital world completely. Virtual reality, by nature of what it is, is far more immersive than AR because it puts the user into the virtual world. Think of augmented reality as a digital supplementation of the physical world, and virtual reality a complete erasure of the physical world.
Myth: AR and VR are not ready for mainstream adaptation.
Truth: Augmented reality and virtual reality are already mainstream. Maybe this misconception comes from the lack of verbiage surrounding the technology. It's only been in recent years that terms like augmented and virtual reality have been thrown around using social media and tech pundits. Rest assured, AR and VR are in regular daily use by the technological laypeople of the world and have been for years. Gaming and entertainment have employed the use of VR almost since their advent. AR has been mainstream since the early days of Snapchat and Pokemon Go, and VR... Well, virtual reality has been used even longer.
Myth: Augmented reality is difficult to make.
Truth: There is a learning curve to augmented reality, but you can actually make your own augmented reality app quite easily. There are companies that have programmable software that allow you to easily input the data and information you want and create and your own AR experience. Here's a quick rundown of the general steps to take:
1. Decide on the information you want in your app. This can be a full-on experience or using a simple trigger image that will direct the user to a specific link. Many businesses use this type in order to draw customers to their website.
2. Generally, you need an account with the company you choose and permission to use the development software.
3. Select "Create AR" in the options list and follow the directions indicated. Each will be slightly different, but with a good software company it really is that simple.
Myth: Virtual reality is only for younger generations.
Truth: Yes, virtual reality is a little easier for younger people to grasp, but that is simply because they have grown up with technology at their fingertips. With television, iPad, computers, and yes, even virtual reality headsets, using the technology does come more natural for anybody younger than 30. Maybe 40. But that doesn't mean that VR is intended only for people born after 2000. Virtual reality doesn't have a boundary, and because of its major benefits in the medical field, it can be used to help dementia patients, therapists, surgeons, and many other people who don't fit into the typically "young" category anymore. Virtual reality can be used by anybody who has a mind to use from it.
Augmented and virtual reality technology have been around for a long time now. Gaming and entertainment have long since benefited from the use of VR technology. It has made a seamless transition into other areas of the world like manufacturing, construction, retail, education, and more. While there are many misconceptions as to what XR technology is for and how easy it is to use, it has still found its place. You can now find VR in therapy, and AR in restaurants and schools. It's easy to make and use, and anybody from children as young as 6 to adults as old as 96 can use this technology to improve their life. All it takes is a little tech and the click of a button.