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Our fascination with reality

By Iza Iglesias

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been giving hints of the company’s intent in making augmented reality (AR) device possible. According to him, this kind of technology will be bigger than virtual reality (VR) as it will allow users to be more “present”, even suggesting that it may be more commercially viable.

In his September 14 interview with American news channel ABC, Cook mentioned, “There’s virtual reality and there’s augmented reality—both of these are incredibly interesting. But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far.”

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He added, “[AR] gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present, talking to each other, but also have other things—visually—for both of us to see. Maybe it’s something we’re talking about, maybe it’s someone else here that is not here present but could be made to appear to be present. So there’s a lot of really cool things there.”

While both AR and VR enrich the experience of a user by offering deeper layers of interactions as well as give potential to transform how people engage with technology, there are distinguishable differences between the two.

Today, Manila Bulletin takes a deeper look on the distinction between the two realities and to also understand why Cook thinks AR will represent bigger opportunities.

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Augmented reality (AR)

This capability layers digital information onto the real-world setting in real time.

It will not seek to replace the view of the environment users are in. Users will still be aware of the  physical surroundings while actively engaged with simulated ones.

AR provides more freedom for the user to choose the path they want to take.

It is usually augmented by a computer-generated sensory input such as graphics, video, sound, or GPS  data.

Hand-held augmented reality became popular due to the ease of access to smartphones and tablets.

The system requirements are much less since viewing is indirect–rendering is independent of the  user’s head or eyes.

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Virtual reality (VR)

Compared to AR, Virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated, imaginary one.

It is usually delivered to the user through a head-mounted, or hand-held controller such as visors,    headset or goggles. The device will block out the room to connect the user to reality of elsewhere,  and allows them to control and navigate their actions in an environment.

VR is more immersive so one has a first-person view where objects are arrayed in all three spatial   dimensions, and one moves around in them.

It is more suitable for video gaming and social networking in a virtual environment.

Well implemented head-mounted displays typically provide the greatest amount of immersion.

In addition to creating a visual experience, VR can engage and interact with a number of senses which include hearing, smell and touch.

On how these technologies progress and play out in the future will only come down and depend entirely from the users.