AR/VR: An Exploration through the Glasses

By Amit Singh-CEO & Co-Founder, OutsiteVR

Amit Singh-CEO & Co-Founder, OutsiteVR

AR and VR are extremely powerful medium to communicate stories, to connect and also to share  human experience. Before we talk more about AR/VR, we must know the basic difference between these technologies.

  • Virtual Reality (VR) creates a digital environment that replaces users’ real-world environment. The major hardware players in VR are, Oculus, Sony Playstation VR, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) superimposes digitally-created content into the user’s real-world environment. The major hardware players include: Microsoft HoloLens and google glass.

Speaking about AR/VR demands introduction to another popular full form, MR. According to me it is more powerful and interactive than AR/VR. Mixed Reality (MR) is an experience that seamlessly blends the user’s real-world environment and digitally-created content, where both environments can coexist and interact with each other. The major hardware player is Magic Leap.

Highlighting AR/VR Potential

Do you know why AR/VR is so exciting? Each individual has the visualizing power and thought to create an imaginary world in the head.  The visual depth, creativity, detailing and clarity vary with each individual. With AR/VR, you can make people visualize the thought in their head. In other words, it has a huge potential to bridge this visual gap by communicating the same visual experience as one can imagine.

AR/VR has the potential to transform our day-to-day activities. No doubt, VR/AR is the first love of hardcore gamers but we really need to put HMDs (Head mounted displays) in more productive areas than gaming such as, education, defense, training, tourism, medical and architecture. AR/VR has different use cases and market opportunities. VR experience is totally immersive which cuts off from real world, while in AR, virtual layer is overlay real objects and the user can experience the real as well as virtual world simultaneously but it is not as immersive as VR.

Encounter with the Virtual

If I talk about my personal experience, my first encounter with VR was when Ar.Ginni Jain, a close friend of mine, gifted me Google cardboard. I experienced Tuscany dive app in VR. It was fascinating & immersive and paving the way for my quest to know more about VR Technology. Many thanks to her!

Journeying through as an architecture student at IIT Roorkee to a professional, I faced lack of opportunities to experience the sites/buildings listed in our curriculum during college. As a professional architect, our clients found it difficult to understand scale/proportion/ambience/design of a space by just drawings and rendered images. This illuminated the need for AR/VR simulations in architecture to experience the built environment in real scale.

I think VR is handier for architecture community than AR because real scale experience can be achieved economically and easily with VR HMDs (Google cardboard or Gear VR) as compared to AR HMDs like HoloLens. It is a boon for whole architecture community to visualize the designs prior to its execution.

Architecture Education and AR/VR

A VR immersive learning experience has added new dimension to education specially architecture education so that students can go on virtual site visits and interact with the virtual environment from anywhere.

Even some professors of Architecture and Planning Department, IIT Roorkee have started using 360° VR content to teach in classrooms.

VR in architecture design and education has a huge potential. I would like to share some key benefits of integrating VR in Architecture Education.

  1. Go back in time to the ancient era and experience art, architecture and culture in VR.
  2. Long lasting impact of learning by VR experience which cannot be achieved easily by reading text or seeing images.
  3. Great learning and inspirational experience for young architects and designers.
  4. Use of 360° binaural sound effects to make the VR experience realistic.
  5. As most of the heritage sites are degrading day-by-day, we really need to preserve them (in VR/AR) for our future generation, so that they would actually relive art, architecture and culture.

Focusing On the Future

In India, people have recently started reacting to AR/VR content. Currently, the consumption rate is low but with upcoming economical HMDs available in the market, the consumption rate will be high in near future.

The upcoming AR/VR products will provide end–to-end experience to the users. VR content creators and VR hardware manufacturers are in symbiotic relationship. Collaborating with each other will not only boost the market growth but also it balances the demand-supply chain. Most importantly, facilitates satisfaction and recurring usage.

Now-a-days, producing high definition VR content is very costly as it requires expensive equipments, 360° rig-cameras, and specialized post-processing software’s. In India, there is a lack of skilled AR/VR developers. Also there is a need to introduce courses regarding AR/VR application development in all the premier institutes of India. IIT Madras has already taken the initiative to introduce an optional AR/VR course in their curriculum.

With the advancement of technology, AR/VR user experience will be more interactive, immersive, and involve nearly all bodily senses (sight, touch, hearing & smell) to make the experience realistic. Be ready to experience the next level of virtual world which is more real!

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