[This is a guest post]
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been a subject of fascination for years, but the technology has remained relatively inaccessible to the masses. However, it has taken off in the gaming world within the last few years. By harnessing AR and VR technologies, game developers can build immersive experiences that are much more engaging.
Even with VR offering a more immersive experience, it is AR that has enjoyed more widespread adoption by the gaming public. For the most part, this has to do with the differences in accessibility and affordability of the two technologies.
The high cost of VR accessories poses a significant barrier to the market for many consumers. The best VR headsets can cost several hundred dollars, and that’s before the user even buys the hardware necessary to run the software.
AR developers, on the other hand, have adapted the technology to work on smartphones. Since most consumers already own a mobile device, it makes the technology significantly more accessible. Brands that hire a programmer experienced in AR app development are able to seamlessly integrate their products with AR technology
Augmented Reality was first introduced in the 1990s, and had a bit of road to travel before becoming a technology for the masses. AR works by placing virtual objects in the real world environment of the user. In some cases, it may use technologies like computer vision to anchor an item on the screen of a device using the camera. In others, it could take advantage of GPS to provide a location-based AR experience.
Some companies tried to develop devices specifically for the Augmented Reality experience, but the public was not eager to adopt gear like Google Glass. That’s why shifting the focus of AR to the smartphone was such an important development for the future of this technology. As a result of this move, AR games and apps have become a common part of the mobile device experience for most users.
With AR now relying heavily on smartphones, the frameworks developed for Android and iOS play a significant role in bringing these experiences to the masses. For Android, this framework is ARCore, and for iPhone, it is the newly developed ARKit for iOS 11.
The first head-mounted displays (HMD) were invented in the 1960s, but many of the technologies and concepts that support Virtual Reality predate the invention of the HMD by decades. People were viewing stereoscopic images in the 19th Century and immersive simulator experiences were in use as early as the 1930s.
The modern VR experience is created by placing a stereoscopic image in front of the user’s eyes. While each headsets works in a different way, the stereoscopic image is necessary to each one. The image is important because it provides the perception of depth and makes the experience more realistic. In addition to creating an immersive 3D environment, VR experiences also employ elements like audio and motion tracking to draw the user into the situation.
Currently, several options for VR headsets are available on the market. Models like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are considered among the best, but their high cost has resulted in a limited market for the products. On top of spending $500 or more for the headset, you also need a high-end gaming PC to run the software.
While these top-tier accessories do require a significant investment to get started, there are lower cost alternatives. Consumers interested in the Sony PlayStation VR can get the headset for around $400. Additionally, the programs run on the PlayStation 4, which is more affordable than a gaming PC.
For as far as they have come, AR and VR have only just begun to show us what they can do in the gaming world. AR technology is certainly going to maintain a reach that extends beyond mobile devices, but for the moment its future as a consumer technology seems to be linked to smartphones.
In regards to VR, the most immersive experiences are always going to come with the higher entry costs of expensive headsets and gaming PCs. However, headsets that work with the user’s smartphone may work as an option for consumers that are looking for a low-cost, casual VR experience.