Augmented reality: In the shadow of virtual reality

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Michael Naimark


  • Virtual reality: a potential well known to specialists
  • Nintendo and Pokémon to the rescue of augmented reality
  • HoloLens: The future of augmented reality?

Virtual reality: a potential well known to specialists

In the United States, many investors and business leaders believe that augmented reality has greater potential than virtual reality. Among these business leaders, Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) explained in an interview with ABC News that "the augmented reality market will become bigger than that of virtual reality". A survey of 650 startups, business leaders and investors showed that 2/3 of respondents believe that the augmented reality market will eventually surpass that of virtual reality.

The fact that virtual reality has taken the lead may lie in the fact that it is much more present in series and hit movies (Matrix, Sword Art Online and many others), allowing the virtual reality to become for many a technological fantasy.

Currently, the virtual reality market is larger than that of its competitor (if we can speak of competition), nevertheless a study of Digi-Capital (a consulting agency), predicts that the augmented reality market in 2020 will be larger than that of virtual reality, and that its market will weigh 90 billion dollars.

Nintendo and Pokémon to the rescue of augmented reality

So why such a gap between expectations for augmented reality and its current state. For that, we have to go back a bit. It should be noted that virtual reality has not always dominated augmented reality in terms of public attention. In 2009, interest in augmented reality was greater, particularly with the experience of Google Glass.

However, its development time and its relative long-term failure have not allowed the public to get excited about the technology. It is also Google, itself which will then popularize virtual reality, with another achievement that has worked much better: the Google Cardboard.

But one company will succeed in relaunching augmented reality to the fore and that company is Nintendo. The Japanese giant has succeeded with Pokémon GO, where Google had failed with its connected glasses. However, the arrival of Pokémon GO, although great for augmented reality, does not on its own make this technology popular.

Indeed, according to a survey carried out in the United States, more than half of the population does not know enough about augmented reality. We must therefore do a real work of information to be able to understand the challenges of such technology, and especially its contribution to our daily lives.

HoloLens: The future of augmented reality?

One of the advantages of augmented reality is its price, in fact, setting up a high-level application in augmented reality will cost less than the same in virtual reality, because we must take into account the virtual reality headset which is still very expensive (count for example more than 800 euros for an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive).

One of the hopes of this technology is the imminent arrival of Microsoft HoloLens, which is seen as a tool for mixing the real and the virtual. However, this tool will not be released until 2017, and it is very likely that the price of HoloLens is quite expensive, thus preventing wide commercialization and above all good success.

But beyond the consumer market, augmented reality will certainly find customers in industry, academia and the military. In the end, will augmented reality be successful and sustainable, only time will tell.

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