What the technology is all about.
Virtual reality has certainly—and loudly—arrived, making a huge splash in everything from gaming to sexual entertainment.
But while it will no doubt add a new, vivid dimension to how many people experience all kinds of pleasures, there’s another form of immersive technology that promises to give a quality that virtual reality lacks.
Namely reality itself.
What is augmented reality?
A kissing-kin in many ways to virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) uses a similar technological base: the projections of images into the user’s eyes, coupled with motion-tracking systems so when you turn your head the system changes the angle and position of the images.
It mixes such projections within the landscape of your actual physical environment.
The allure of virtual reality is that these projections replace what the wearer would normally be seeing within an artificial environment. The possibilities, for erotic entertainment are staggering: pretty much every visual fantasy that can be imagined could very well be created for the enjoyment of a VR user.
And, in a few more years, we’ll no doubt be able to not just see a new world, but be able to touch and interact with it via innovations in haptic, or touch, technology.
But where VR and AR splits is in that idea of human vision. As said, VR is totally immersive, leaving little or no impact on the real world—aside from forgetting you’re wearing a VR rig and you accidently walk into a wall.
AR, though, projects similar images either onto a piece of transparent material—or even into the eye itself. This means that with AR you could be wearing what could appear to be a pair of innocuous glasses and see not just what you normally would but also an overlay of images or information.
Thus, augmented reality is exactly what it says it is: it modifies, instead of replaces as in the case of VR, what the user sees.
It adds to reality instead of cutting it off.
You’ll be seeing it soon
While VR has definitely gotten out of the gate first, with products like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and even the very affordable Google Cardboard, augmented reality research has some more-than-huge backers behind its development.
Google already lead the race with the recent Google Glass project. Unfortunately, this first AR incarnation hit like a lead balloon because of what could be best be called the viewing problem with AR.
Not viewing in the case of what the wearer sees but in how they are seen. The main allure of AR, after all, is that it interfaces with the outside world. Virtual reality hardware doesn’t need to be pretty as the user is usually safe and sound in their “real” home or office when they are using it.
But AR users will want to take the power of visually superimposing information out beyond their own four walls. This also means though that unless their gear is hip and stylish, then they are going to stand out—or be singled out for scorn in the case of early Google Glass adopters.
The big break, therefore, in augmented reality is going to be the ability for wearers not to be seen.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has already hard at work on a VR/AR hybrid system that will, hopefully, appear commonplace.
During his speech at the Facebook F8 conference, he said: “Over the next 10 years, the form factor’s just going to keep on getting smaller and smaller, and eventually we’re going to have what looks like normal-looking glasses that can do both virtual and augmented reality.”
Further in the future is the promise of an even less obvious way of using AR: contact lenses. Hardware giant Samsung is working on a way of integrating vision and tracking systems small enough to be worn directly on the eye.
Not to be left behind, Google is also coming back to AR with a similar style of technology, meaning that we are looking at an augmented reality arms race. And, as we’ve learned with everything from smartphones to gaming systems, that means that huge innovations are more than likely right around the corner.
In our next installment, we’ll move right along to how augmented reality may completely change human sexuality by removing one of old oldest stumbling blocks: lack of communication.
Image source: Kārlis Dambrāns