Augmented Reality July 06, 2018

Different realities

Thomas Smolders

Resident Writer

Two summers ago, the streets were flooded with youngsters playing Pokémon Go. Thousands of people were swiping in parks hoping to catch a Pikachu or Bulbasaur. Virtual monsters that users could 'see' in the real world thanks to a technology that until then had not been used so often for a wide audience: augmented reality.

What was at that time no more than a funny gimmick, is now being used in more and more projects. Yet for many people the difference between augmented reality and related technologies such as virtual reality and mixed reality is not always clear. Time to drink the reality soup while it’s hot!

Virtual reality

In 2014, Facebook bought the startup Oculus for 2.3 billion dollars. The company, at that time barely two years old, specializes in virtual reality. This technology completely immerses you in a certain experience because you have to wear special glasses. If you move in the 'real world', you also move in the ‘virtual world’.

Virtual reality is especially useful if you want to show something. An architect who wants you to walk through your new home, for example. VR is also a useful tool for presenting a project at trade fairs.

For a long time, the biggest problem with virtual reality was that you didn’t only need a special pair of glasses, but a connection to a device (a computer or a PlayStation) as well. Another option was to work with a device in which a mobile phone could be inserted, but those are often less powerful. Until now: the Oculus Go, an affordable all-in-one virtual reality headset, has been released and is ready to disrupt the market.

Is useful for

  • Trade fairs or sales moments where you want to let potential customers experience something
  • The entertainment sector
  • Training
  • Real estate

Augmented reality

The cool thing about augmented reality is that you won’t need an extra device at all. With the help of your smartphone computer-generated information is added to the natural world as it exists.

In contrast to VR you are not immersed in a different world, but you can virtually interact with your environment. It may be less impressive than VR, but it is usually a lot more useful.

The information that is 'superimposed' on the real world can consist of several things. For example, In The Pocket developed an application for Telenet that helps users with the installation of their digicorder. Another example are the notifications in the Google Glass. The layers that are added in AR are displayed as an extra layer on the surroundings and don’t interact with reality.

Meanwhile the technology behind AR keeps evolving. Thanks to ARKit 2 it is much easier to view the same virtual object with two people at the same time. Read all about the new developments on our blog!

Is useful for

  • Showing information when users can’t use their hands (for example in an operating theater)
  • Clear manuals in different steps
  • Order picking in companies
  • Navigation

Mixed reality

Mixed reality is sitting at the intersection of the two and is closest to AR. According to some definitions it’s the same as augmented reality, but others still make a distinction. In mixed reality, the virtual object interacts with the environment: it will for instance take into account the distances of a room.

In this demo of the HoloLens you see for example how you can play Minecraft on a table. New kid on the block Magic Leap is developing similar glasses and meanwhile raised 2.3 billion dollars.

At In The Pocket we also develop applications for mixed reality. For example, recently we developed a tool for Groupe ADP (the parent company above the airports in Paris) to discover Charles de Gaulle and Orly in mixed reality.

Is useful for

  • Visualization of real-time objects
  • Measuring and object placing
  • Remote assistance

Want to learn more about AR?

Get the ball rolling and see if our Roadmap to AR is just what you need. Let’s talk possibilities!

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