Reality is all around us. It can be majestic and beautiful
or it can be a bit shit: litter and pollution, grey urban cityscapes and so on.
Virtual reality tends to be mainly attractive with even realistic depictions
having edits and deletions to tweak things so that they are not so hideously
depressing that people immediately log out of the virtual environment.
The real future lies not in reality which is a little lacking in special effects and hidden power ups – but nor does it lie with the entirely pseudo world of virtual reality.
Rather augmented reality is the way to go. Augmented reality is a combination of the best of virtual reality and reality, with a virtual world overlaid on top of the real environments. The technology is so sophisticated now that cartoon characters, avatars and game personas can interact in a very authentic way with the real world, seeming to stand on knees, sofas or fence railings, ducking under obstructions and jumping over obstacles to make game play simultaneously exciting and realistic. It can also encourage people to leave their gaming chairs and get out and explore the real world, in much the way Pokemon GO did, encouraging exploration in exchange for rare creatures and power-ups.
But augmented reality has applications that are only just beginning to be understood. A person can navigate using GPS enabled augmented reality in which the goggles or glasses used to display the augmentation feature an arrow indicating which way the user should go in order to get to their destination. Doctors may be able to make diagnoses with augmented reality software scanning bodies to look for anomalies in the way the patients are moving or standing – the augmentation could suggest that a certain pose is indicative of, for example, cracked ribs or a broken collar bone. Over time, augmented reality could track changes in patient’s bodies, indicating underlying issues, changes that human doctors would not be able to see or remember.
These are just two of the ways that augmented reality could dramatically improve our lives. In the entertainment world, augmented reality can do so much more, offering fully immersive experiences that are full of special effects and magic while still being based in the real world.