The battle is heating up between the two would-be champions of the virtual world – augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). For so many years they seemed similar – the platforms, how they operated and the audience they aspired to service, but then Pokemon Go was launched, and developers around the world saw opportunity outside of just gaming. While VR and it’s supporters are focused on creating a fully immersive experience, where users can inhabit alternate worlds and universes, AR takes the world as it is, and makes changes, in a way similar to an interior designer adding a piece of furniture – but on a digital scale – the thing that changes shouldn’t really be there.
The Osterhout Design Group (ODG) has launched the first in what will be a series of smart glasses. Using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip, they will be focused on AR, and while there is an obvious benefit to those looking for that elusive Pokemon, ODG sees the application stretching far beyond gaming. Executives at ODG are optimistic they will be able to target the corporate and education markets, by allowing training attendees an inclusive and involved experience from anywhere in the world.
The AR training theory is predicated on the fact that most online training fails, due to a lack of personal attention from the trainer, who, after all, is simply a recording. AR training still requires that attendees ‘show up,’ to a certain location. They would then put on their glasses and watch a wall, or blank whiteboard and a trainer would arrive and take them through a hands-on class where they can participate and ask questions. Of course, the big advantage is that there may be dozens of people from all over the world attending the class, but in a far more meaningful fashion than a traditional webinar. Looking around the room, attendees could see avatars representing other attendees, and get involved in their questions.
ODG’s glasses have built-in microphones and speakers, enabling real-time communication and actual dialogue. Perhaps more importantly, they look like regular sunglasses, as ODG didn’t wish to make pariahs of their consumers in the fashion of the ill-fated Google-glass.
The battle is certainly heating up the entertainment, infotainment, information war, and if, as many are saying, it’s DVD vs laser disk all over again, only time will tell who becomes the daily tool, and who the gizmo stuck in the cupboard.