The booming virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) markets give consumers a whole new world of entertainment options as they look to improve their homes with the latest and greatest technology.
The VR and AR market is expected to grow to more than one billion users and have a worldwide value of more than $215 billion by 2021.1 Make sure you have an expert team of electronic specialists on your side when it’s time to upgrade.
“Virtual reality and augmented reality represent exciting breakthroughs in technology that will enhance entertainment and lifestyle options for consumers,” says Sandy Benson, owner of Custom Audio Video. “Before you make any decisions, however, it’s important to be fully informed about what this technology entails and what you need to make it work successfully.”
Here’s your guide to virtual reality and augmented reality:
What is the difference between VR and AR?
Virtual reality engulfs the user in a completely fabricated world, with the idea that it is difficult to determine what is real and what is not (think headset-enabled games). In augmented reality, users remain in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects (think Pokemon Go).
What companies are using VR and AR?
Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are all using VR and AR technology in a variety of ways, from products like Google Glass to video game and interactive sports experiences. Apple and Amazon are working on applications to create AR experiences that allow you to project furniture or décor into your home using your smartphone or other devices to see how it looks in real-time. In addition, Apple is working on its own smart glasses, which would likely tie into their existing ecosystem of products.
What VR and AR products are available to consumers?
Much of the latest technology unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show is not available in stores, but the products could be on the market soon for early adopters.
- Windows Mixed Reality – Microsoft offers a full package to get you up and running with VR, featuring high-powered computers optimized for VR, plug and play virtual headsets and motion controllers that respond naturally to your movements.
- Amazon AR View – iPhone and Android users can open this application through Amazon and use it to help see how a variety of items could work in your home. Simply click on an AR view-enabled item, and your phone will switch to camera mode, projecting the item where you would like to see it.
- HTC Vive Pro VR Headset – With amazing resolution and spectacular sound, this VR headset will fully engulf you as you play video games from your Xbox One or PS4, putting you right in the middle of the action.
- Vuzik Blade AR Smart Glasses – AR glasses have been much improved upon since their debut, and these specs project an interface on the right-hand lens. Working in tandem with your smartphone, you can connect virtually hands-free.
How do VR and AR work in the home?
The easiest way to connect to this new technology is through gaming consoles and computers. Xbox One and PS4 are configured to work with VR headsets, with games and apps that take advantage of the technology. Google Daydream headsets work in tandem with apps for VR experiences like live sports. When using VR, it’s important to set up your room to give yourself the space and freedom to move around without running into objects.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of VR and AR?
Virtual reality is an immersive experience, which is both its strength and weakness. Users have full sensory immersion in whatever content they are viewing, but the method takes viewers out of the “real world.” Augmented reality allows users to retain a connection and even interact with their surroundings, but the problem remains in how to execute AR in an efficient manner.
Make no mistake; however, VR and AR will play a major role in the future of technology, and if you are interested in using them in your home, working with professionals who understand and can recommend what will work best for you is critical.
“If you want to be on the cutting-edge of technology, you can’t go wrong with virtual and augmented reality,” says Iain Brown, CEDIA Certified Electronics System Technician II. “As the technology advances and changes, however, you want to make sure you work with experienced providers who can answer all of your questions and provide you with the right fit.”