Virtual reality and augmented reality: the line between these two technologies is blurred. However, if they share common features, they convey two quite different visions and specific uses.
Appeared in the mid-1990s and perfected over the last decade, theis an evolution of the techniques of representation of a world in three dimensions. But unlike a video game or a traditional multimedia experience, where the user stays away from the screen, the plunges us into the in 3D, using a helmet and of which will make us “live” in this universe.
Far from the primitive experiences of the 1990s, modern virtual reality solutions have evolved considerably. The most famous, the, acquired by , or the HTC Vive, produced in collaboration with Valve ( ), are composed of three elements: a to be connected to the video input and ports his PC (preferably high-end), motion sensors to be placed in the room to detect it and controllers that will allow the user to interact in space with his hands. The headset broadcasts stereoscopic 3D images via a screen and which place them as close as possible to the eyes. The feeling of being in virtual space can be overwhelming.
Other simpler solutions exist, such as those based on a smartphone (Gear VR, Google Daydream …) or stand-alone headsets such as the Oculus Go. These headsets ” light »Offer simpler experiences, mainly focused on head movements (360 ° video, virtual tour, etc.) or assisted by a controller (joystick or remote control). In all cases, the image plastered in front of the user’s eyes completely isolates him from reality, which can also pose problems of dizziness, or unintentional impact with objects in the room. Virtual reality indeed requires pushing the furniture!
Augmented reality: the real enriched by the virtual
The, it enriches reality with virtual elements. We can see it as a lens through which we look at an “augmented” version of reality, with information superimposed on it, up to imaginary 3D objects which come to be integrated into a room.
We can consider the simple head-up display of aas a form of augmented reality. The experience of , which broadcast information visible in a corner of the , was another example: displaying a Google Maps and directions to take while walking, without having to look at your smartphone.
More advanced augmented reality techniques are deployed by Google andon their mobile OS. The AR Core (side ) et AR Kit (version ) transform smartphones into a prism of augmented reality, even if in practice, it is not really: we always look at a screen that broadcasts a video capture, enriched, of the real. In any case, augmented reality on smartphones continues to be enriched with new apps (table games, measurement or astronomy tools, etc.) and is refining its possibilities. iOS 12, for example, introduces the notion of persistent experiences (which can be left and resumed in the same state) and shared between several users.
Microsoft has been developing a more ambitious version for a few years with its holographic helmet. Here, no opaque screen between the user and his environment, but projected onto the transparent lenses of the helmet. Beyond the playful side – we can play on his –
promises interesting uses in professional environments such as medicine or industry.
Magic Leap offers a similar approach, based on (relatively) smaller glasses, and promising better integration of 3D objects in the real world with the use of depth of field. Initial demos, on the other hand, seem disappointing from those lucky enough to wear the device.