Analyzing the Debate Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Indeed, virtual reality was at the center stage during a recent San Jose Convention Center trade show, where numerous thousands of attendees checked out the latest in VR hardware, virtual worlds and other immersive experiences. Though, the numbers don’t determine as a major trade show, but it creates great impression when looking at how far the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) conference and expo has evolve in a space of three years.
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The 2014 trade show witness 34 exhibitors “and that was pretty much everyone in the industry” says SVVR creator Karl Krantz. Meanwhile, this year’s event showcase almost 150 exhibitors, which includes big names like Nokia USA, Leap Motion and Nvidia. Krantz remarks that it was the biggest professional conference for the VR industry to date.
Krantz, being a VR enthusiast, consultant and entrepreneur, hold some definite opinions on the level of VR today and where it’s going. Given the level noise around VR headgear like Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR and even Google’s low cost Cardboard, Krantz accepted that the industry can’t afford to fail like it did earlier.
“VR was like disco in the ‘90s, there was peak interest, but people tried it and were disappointed,” says Krantz. “VR didn’t deliver on the promises being made and it became a dirty word.”
So, how will it be different this time around? “The amazing thing is that the form factor hasn’t really changed. You put an Oculus next to an old VPL headset and they don’t look that different,” Krantz says.
Krantz says, although looks can be deceiving, a key difference with today’s headgear is that when used, people don’t get sick like they experienced with the slower, less advanced headgear of the earlier era. Though there are still reports of people getting dizzy.
The reason is associated with latency. In the ‘90s time was measured in hundreds of milliseconds, now, it’s down to 10-20 milliseconds. “That’s a lot closer to real time and what the brain accepts,” says Krantz.
Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality
The SVVR conference saw only a few augmented reality exhibitions. Krantz says he’s kept SVVR “hyper-focused on VR” because he believes AR is for a very different community, which tends to be more conventional.
SVVR did feature a panel entitled: “Augmented Reality versus Virtual Reality: Why Can’t We All Get Along?”
SVVR Conference: ‘AR and VR will eventually blend’
Krantz’s expectation actually was that “Eventually the two will blend. The technology is the same in that everything that’s good for AR is good for VR for solving problems”. He also observes that VR systems are being used to prototype AR ideas that aren’t yet physically possible to build.
“That’s the reason AR people should be excited, because prices are coming down and that means there will be great tools to use for prototyping in the future,” says Krantz.
“AR is cool but it’s less immersive,” says Krantz. “When you’re in virtual world you are like ‘Oh my god, this is really something else.’”
So what’s coming next year?
“Once we can do that in real-time, and I think a year from now it will be the norm, companies like Oculus will just build it in to the headgear,” says Krantz. “That’s really going to open the floodgates to VR’s popularity.”