Showdown Between Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

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Debates pitting various technologies against each other in a battle for media dominance have risen for decades. First it was 8-track vs cassette, then Beta Max vs VHS, Blu Ray vs HD. Now, the debate focuses on Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality. These two technologies take viewers on a journey to see things beyond what is in their current sight-line, but which experience is better?

Virtual Reality burst onto the tech stage recently, especially after a great showing at CES earlier this year, where all of the new technologies for viewing VR content were on display. One would think that this is lights-out for the less sexy Augmented Reality option, but we think that anyone who truly understands the differences between AR and VR capabilities would easily see the useful applications for each technology in creating content for brands.

How do Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Differ?

This is one instance where the answer lies in the name, if you just take a second to think about each word. Both technologies require that you look through a device to alter what you are seeing in front of you … just at different levels of intensity. Augmented Reality content keeps you in the world you currently see around you (for example, a car dealership showroom), but when you look through a device at certain “markers” around the room you will see some fun surprises pop up. One minute you’re looking at a car right in front of you (which you can reach out and touch), but then someone hands you a smartphone to look through and all of a sudden a dragon is bursting out from the window. Seriously, this could happen. 

On the contrast, Virtual Reality takes you completely out of your current surroundings to visit a different setting where you can interact with and walk around your new environment. VR requires that you look through a special headset that puts the specially made 3D video content all around you – no matter where you walk or turn. Once the headset is on, you could find yourself floating through space or taking a tour of The White House.

Ways to Apply Each Style of Content

Going back to the car dealership example, Augmented Reality technology is exactly what a salesperson would need to keep their potential customers in the showroom, yet still allow them to take a little trip down customization lane. Imagine being able to look at a car that is right in front of you, and then have the power to swap out the colors, or the interior, or whether that car has a sunroof. Sure beats flipping through a catalogue. On the other hand, Virtual Reality has a million ways it can go for brands that want to help their audience envision something that can’t be physically presented in that moment. Imagine a science museum that wants to help you understand how big the planets are, or an oil drilling company that needs to train new employees on equipment currently located under the ocean. We believe that VR content can have a huge impact on the way we train people to do all sorts of things.

How to Determine the Best Technology for Your Project

Cost is not necessarily the deciding factor for these types of projects because each can be created for relatively similar budgets, depending on what exactly it is that you want. It’s more about what you need the technology to do for your client experience. What are you looking to accomplish with your content? For a car dealership, AR would be more applicable because we want to keep that audience in the environment and just give them the ability to change options on a car that they are looking at presently. A VR experience means you want to take your audience to a completely different environment. Furthermore, VR is usually achieved by wearing a VR helmet or goggles similar to the Oculus Rift – whereas AR can be viewed through a number of different Apps using a smartphone or tablet. So you need to consider which devices are feasible for you to keep on-hand.  


Next Steps … 

We wrote this content to explain the differences between these two technologies to help our clients make a more informed decision about the content they need. However, all you really need to know is your desired project goals, and comfortable budget, in order to book a discovery meeting with our team. Then we can help walk you through picking the exact style of content to do the job right. Do you have to use a production company like Abstract Media to create AR or VR content? No, you could definitely hire a college intern to help you figure it out. But why pay for someone to practice making your visual content when our team has worked with this technology for years, and is ready to create it for you NOW. Also we have big fancy computers that process a lot faster than your intern’s Dell laptop.