Augmented vs. Virtual Reality
The terms AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) are seen everywhere when talking about the metaverse, Web3, and other technologies. These terms refer to the devices which connect us to the digital world and their names differentiate the level of immersion provided. AR is less immersive and provides an overlay of information onto the physical world (think of Pokémon Go or Ray-Ban’s Smart Glasses). These devices add a layer of digital information over the physical world we see. VR is a fully immersive technology where we “enter” a whole new digital world apart from the physical one (think of Oculus headsets). The metaverse aims to be a VR technology and is designed for such devices to provide the best user experience.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality is a type of reality in which interaction with the real world is enhanced or made more interesting. Most commonly, digital objects are able to be portrayed in the real world through an app, camera, or AR device such as smart glasses. For example, PokémonGo is an amazing example of augmented reality because of the way the digital Pokémon are shown in your real-world environment. The Pokémon are the digital media that are being incorporated and meant to be seen in the real world through the app because of how the map / Pokémon types appear on your screen when you’re out trying to catch them. Snapchat is another example of AR because not only of their filters, but more specifically there are options and filters that most commonly allow for some sort of dancing cartoon object or even a fake animal appearing on screen. What’s going on here is the digital information is being blended with the real world to incorporate the two into one on screen.
A massive way that AR contributes to the metaverse will be in the future where there will likely be AR games that allow you to seek NFTs in real life in a sort of scavenger hunt. AR could also be used to alter the appearance of our physical world to be “metaverse-like”. Think of being able to look into your camera and the world around you completely changed into a certain look and feel of a particular subverse. Overall, AR is not completely immersive, but it provides a feel for the digital world when we use our phone camera or smart glasses to merge it with our physical world.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality is the backbone of the metaverse and is much more immersive than AR. VR allows for the feel of being “in” the metaverse. If one is using a computer, the individual is simply looking into the metaverse through their screen. VR tools like goggles, gloves, and more allow them to look around the metaverse, “feel” it, and truly move within it. Yes, running a computer still allows you access into the metaverse, but your only communication within the program is through your screen and keyboard. This is great for those who don’t have access to the new gear that allows for full immersion or for those who don’t want to end up feeling sucked into the digital worlds. For more on immersion technologies click here.
Fuller immersion will be sought by users craving a true “metaverse experience”, allowing them to notice more details, see just how much or how little was put into development of the subverse, and see how user-friendly the experience is. For those who are big into gaming, this will be revolutionary. Instead of looking at a screen to play a game, they can feel like they’re in it. People will always remember the enjoyment of certain arenas, areas, and maps of a game based on design and gameplay. Now they can feel like they’re in the map and game itself providing an even more memorable and in-depth experience. Click here to see Skyrim in VR.
Another benefit of full immersion will be a revolution in online shopping. Current online shopping allows individuals to instantly access inventories and order directly to their home then try everything on and handle returns. In the metaverse, with one’s avatar, they can try on clothes digitally, getting a feel for them visually in real time, all by simply being putting on a headset in their home.
On the business’s end, metaverse shopping will remove many legal and permitting hurdles that come with opening a new location and allow them to reach customers worldwide instantly. In addition, all products can be made available in this single location without variance by region or stock levels. Many users of the metaverse are major brands’ target consumers allowing them to instantly reach their desired audience on a single platform.
Overall, AR and VR both have their own roles in the metaverse and Web3 and will provide us with varying levels of immersion and use cases. Now that we know what each of them are, we can go over the different classifications of each. Click here for another article on these technologies.