Q: I was reading about the new Apple iPhone, Apple Watch and other products announced. The new iPhone X sounds really cool, though darn expensive for us regular folk. But what’s this “augmented reality” feature that they can apparently do, and how does it differ from Samsung’s “virtual reality”?
A: There are all sorts of realities nowadays, however odd that sounds. Regular “reality reality” is where we all exist, with the weather, noise, annoying neighbors, depressing news, etc. You break your phone screen in reality and, well, it’s broken.
On the other end of the spectrum is virtual reality. That’s a completely computer generated, interactive space where you experience it through wearing a headset and headphones. What you see changes as you move your head – or even your eyes – and with the very best VR systems, it’s remarkably realistic. Samsung has a slick headset paired to its Galaxy phones, which is what you’ve heard about.
While games are an obvious genre for virtual reality, there are quite a few other applications for this technology, including education, travel and even surgery and remote healthcare. Why go through the hassle of flying to Egypt to visit the Pyramid of Giza when you can have the same experience in the comfort of your own armchair?
And then there’s the middle ground, augmented reality. AR, as it’s known, is a hybrid of real life and computer generated data. Imagine being at a conference where there’s a name tag superimposed over the forehead of everyone you meet, or a party where people have digital hats based on particular characteristics of that person. Or, as Apple demonstrated briefly at the iPhone X introduction, imagine…