Have a tech question that’s got you stumped? Send your tech questions to Techspert Jonathan using THIS FORM. He’ll be tackling one question a month from readers.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
As the name suggests, Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience that enhances our real-world surroundings by combining it with computer-generated digital content. AR is like a magical window into a world where computer-generated elements blend seamlessly with your everyday environment. One of the most well-known examples of AR is the popular game “Pokémon GO,” where players explore their neighborhoods to find and capture virtual creatures that appear to be part of the real world through their smartphone screens.
AR is like a magical window into a world where computer-generated elements blend seamlessly with your everyday environment.
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
VR is like stepping into a different reality, where you can interact with objects, explore landscapes, and engage in activities far from your physical location.
Conversely, Virtual Reality (VR) creates a completely immersive digital environment that replaces the familiar world around you. A VR headset can transport you to a whole new world that can be entirely computer-generated or a mix of real and virtual elements. VR is like stepping into a different reality, where you can interact with objects, explore landscapes, and engage in activities far from your physical location.
What are some common uses of Augmented Reality?
Since AR enhances the real world by adding digital elements to your surroundings, it is an excellent tool for information display, navigation, and interactive experience in a familiar environment.
Here are examples of Augmented Reality:
- Smartphone map applications use AR to provide the best navigation experience. See the picture below.
- Shopping applications, like furniture store apps or Walmart or Amazon, use AR to give you an idea of how a product looks in real life before getting your hands on it. See the image below from the Walmart website.
What are some common uses of Virtual Reality?
By providing a completely immersive experience, Virtual Reality (VR) shines when exploring places, real or otherworldly, without leaving the comfort of your home. Imagine putting on a VR headset and suddenly finding yourself on top of Mount Everest. And as you look around, up and down, and even move around, you realize that you are indeed on Mount Everest.
Two two current and widespread uses of Virtual Reality include:
- Training simulations: Surgeons, mechanics, pilots, etc., can have unlimited and safe hands-on experience thanks to VR.
- The gaming industry: Players can literarily immerse themselves in the game world and interact with various objects in the game as they would in real life.
What device do I need?
For Augmented Reality, you only need your smartphone and applications with AR features, such as Google or Apple Maps, Amazon, Wayfair, etc. When using such apps, always look for the AR icon, similar to the following:
On the other hand, Virtual Reality requires a VR headset. You can learn more about the best VR headsets in the market in this article by PC Mag.
What’s new for AR and VR?
- In June 2023, Apple announced its new product line, the Vision Pro, which will make Mixed Reality (AR and VR) and Spatial Computing more accessible to everyone. In simple terms, Spatial Computing is like accessing a fully functional Augmented Reality computer in Virtual Reality. For more information about the Vision Pro, read more about it on the Apple website.
- The Metaverse (still in development). Meta defines it as follows: “Like the internet, the metaverse will help you connect with people when you aren’t physically in the same place and get us even closer to that feeling of being together in person.” You can read more about the Metaverse here.
Want to learn more?
Click here to access Senior Planet’s infographic overview of the contrast between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
Additionally, be sure to join Senior Planet on our next free Zoom lecture: Virtual Reality at a Glance, on August 30, at 3:00 PM EDT.
Also, don’t forget to join the Ask a Tech Expert group on the Senior Planet Community platform to ask any tech questions.
Tell us about your previous uses or experiences with Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality. 😃
Techspert Jonathan is Senior Planet’s Sr. Digital Community Relations and Product Specialist and a former Senior Planet San Antonio technology trainer. He is also an iOS developer with a background in Information Systems and Cyber Security.
Are You Digital Skills Ready?
Want to get even more digitally savvy? Senior Planet is proud to work with AARP Foundation on the Digital Skills Ready@50+™ initiative, made possible through a generous grant from Google.org. The resources focus on digital essentials to help older adults find and secure jobs, change careers, or explore entrepreneurship. Visit here to learn more and register – registration is required.
Jonathan, Senior Planet’s Techspert columnist, answers one of your questions every month.