Leaderboard: Is our future in virtual reality or augmented reality?

MOP reader Sally recently pointed us to a series of articles on virtual reality and augmented reality tech that when taken together make for an interesting discussion on two terms most laypeople seem to use interchangeably.

  • In January following this year’s CES, Yahoo tech columnist David Pogue rolled his eyes at “gushing” over VR and argued that augmented reality was far more interesting.
  • In April, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech suggesting that the future of VR is bright but that the equipment was a hindrance to socializing — that augmented reality, with transparent glasses, is the future.
  • Electronic Arts said basically the same exact thing just four days ago — that VR is still years away from mass-market consumers but that the company is focusing on AR in the shorter term.
  • And finally AltspaceVR, a startup that was offering a social VR chat aimed at businesses, is closing up shop, having run out of funding. Its userbase was only 35,000 people monthly, and it’s not even the only VR company to close down this year.

I have to say that I see much more utility and promise in a Shadowrun-like tech future of augmented glasses than in cumbersome game devices, but am I wrong — and are the money men wrong? Is our future in virtual reality or augmented reality?

Leaderboard: Is our future in virtual reality or augmented reality?

  • VR (10%, 15 Votes)
  • AR (27%, 41 Votes)
  • Both (33%, 50 Votes)
  • Something else (16%, 24 Votes)
  • Don't know / don't care / just want to see results (13%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 150

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57 Comments on "Leaderboard: Is our future in virtual reality or augmented reality?"

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possum440 .
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possum440 .

Neither. The long and short term effects are known and being ignored. The companies post complicated EULAS removing themselves, or trying to, of any damage to your noggin or body, again, you happily sign these.

You gamer’s need to worry less about your entertainment satisfaction and more about your health.

I have stated a number of times why the tech is dangerous and why, in the hands of gamer’s it is many times more dangerous because the majority of gamer’s have weak minds and spend, will spend hours in these things without thought of anything, except their own entertainment.

And do not try to compare it to what our military uses today, it is night and day. We have regulations as to duration and usage of these devices.

Warnings, something you gamer’s will happily ignore. One thing you need to realize first and foremost, the companies making these devices want profit, MONEY, they could care less about you or they would not put the EULAS out the way they do to place full blame on you, the consumer for abusing their product.

They do not include health studies up to this date and they never will, they will simply take your money and state not to put that gun to your head as it “might” be dangerous.

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Melissa McDonald

You can die from drinking too much water.

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Melissa McDonald

Both, and the only differentiation we will make is the setting, and the opacity of the images.

Worth noting that the new preferred term is thus “Mixed Reality”. AR is kinda 2016.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

I see AR enough within the industry, but Mixed Reality is one of the terms I’m seeing with companies trying to stand out.

I feel like VR impressed the masses but is still too hard to develop for. AR’s lighter, but truthfully, game wise, it seems like a gimmick more than VR does. The difference is that AR can work better now, and functionally, especially if you focus on “mixed reality” (think board games projected on a surface but you move pieces with your hands). It’s like Tony Stark’s tech IRL.

I still think VR has a stronger future in the long run, but maybe not so much for a lot of the games we’re seeing. The demos are cute, but few really hold up for me or the people’s I’ve shared with.

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Melissa McDonald

I will have to respectfully disagree. I have friends learning how to make VR apps in Unity. There are even web-based VR dev tools like InstaVR that almost anyone can dive into. Btw, Microsoft is calling it Mixed Reality, I don’t think they have to do too much to try and “stand out” eh?

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KumiKaze

AR and VR are the future, but they are just a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of all of this. The Holodeck. AR is probably going to be shifted more towards business and then in turn towards your average consumer. When you look at what Microsoft’s Hololens is capable of, or at least we are told is capable of, the future of AR is pretty exciting.

VR in its current form, does have some limitations, price being one of them at the moment. As with most new tech, the first generation isn’t going to be the greatest and will be expensive for what it does. Current VR systems remind me of the first gen iPad. It didn’t have a camera, and when compared to the 2nd gen was almost twice the thickness and twice the weight.

Both AR and VR currently live in separate realms at the moment, but when their powers combine…Holodeck. Sorry that was horrible, but I just want the Holodeck already.

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Melissa McDonald

if you remove the fanciful “matter from energy” element from the fictional Star Trek product, you’ll get something pretty close to it in the next 20 years or so. Which will be here before you know it. But the future is never quite what we expected, there’s always some crazy new angle or element we didn’t see coming because of discovery, and because of R&D taking years to produce products sometimes.

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zoward

While I like both, I really don’t see either monopolizing the gaming space. Both are more complicated than I’m going to want unless I have a lot of extra time and energy to expend. While AR is fun, I don’t always want to have to go outside, run around and socialize when I’m enjoying downtime. VR is immersive, but cumbersome, expensive and you’re chained to your rig (at least for now). Neither lends itself well to e-sports (not that I’m an e-sports fan), but watching someone else use either AR or VR for more than a moment or two is just … unfun. I’m willing to be convinced, but neither has qualities that immediately make me think they’re going to take over the gaming space anytime soon.

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Veldan

Yeah, both. I personally don’t see the attraction of AR, I don’t care for it at all, but Pokemon GO has already proven that the masses are interested. So I guess it’s here to stay and we might see other applications in the future. And that future starts now, unlike VR’s future, which is still some years away I think. We are still in the stage where VR is only really nice for enthousiasts with money. But when the next generation of all the VR headsets is released, and enough time has passed for some more big projects (games or not) to complete… I think VR will be what people are enthousiastically talking about, not AR.

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Melissa McDonald

Apple is just about to launch some AR stuff with the iPhone 8. I’m really curious to see what they do with it. Might end up being just some goofy camera tricks that turn people in to animals or emojis, though.

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Joe Seabreeze

Both will have its place, and one device should be able to handle both.

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Archebius

I think both will coexist in the long term. AR has a lot of nifty features and allows you to engage more with the world, not be completely given over to whatever you’re doing or tied to a specific location. But like good ol’ desktop PCs, VR will be there when people really want to be immersed.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Augmented Reality seems much farther in the future.

I’ve yet to see any TRUE AR games.

Just imagine those sci-fi series that shows people playing AR games, that’s some truly outrageous technology that doesn’t seem feasible for decades to come.

Imagine playing a shooter AR game in your house when you slip on a pair of AR glasses and wield a toy gun. The AR game spawns digital enemies and you seem them pouring in through the garage, windows, doghouse, etc. You take cover behind your real couch to avoid their shots, and you use your real kid brother as a human shield as you mow down the digital enemies. Likewise the digital enemies take cover behind the kitchen counter to avoid your shots. You then decide to close the living room door to prevent more enemies from coming in. After an hour of ducking behind furnitures like an idiot, you take of your AR glasses and see that everything is back to normal as the rest of your family gives you weird looks.

Is such a game feasible in the foreseeable future?

Probably not.

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Melissa McDonald

What you described is almost exactly what you get in the game below :) cheers!

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Melissa McDonald

Actually Pokémon Go is a “true AR” game. But HoloLens has some games made using Windows Holographic developer kit, you can find articles about them. There’s one where bugs appear to pop out of the walls of your room and you have to shoot them.

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Korbenik

AR already has real world possibilitys like creating 3d object and being able to walk around and look at it as if it actually exists. You can multitask in the office and create screens all around your workspace to easily move between one desktop to another. Vr does nothing innovative. Vr is just a screen on your face and you still are limited to the same behavior of a computer.

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Melissa McDonald

I know this is a game site, but games are really the last piece of the puzzle for VR. Virtual Travel is huge right now content-wise. I can strap on a visor and take a guided tour of Machu Picchu, the VR is 360-degree film, so it really is like being there in many ways. If I was in a wheelchair or something it would give me the ability to virtually see the world in some very compelling ways. There are hundreds of hours of such things for Gear VR / Oculus already. You can sit in the tent of a refugee family in Syria and watch them prepare their evening meal. You can experience an annual gathering of Scandinavians who live the “Viking” life, including battles that get extremely physical – no sharp edges – but plenty of mud, blood, and muscle.

VR represents a way to see the world we’ve never had before. Check this out: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/viking-warriors-battle-reenactment-360-vr/

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Sally Bowls

1)

Amara’s Law: We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

2) AR will certainly be getting more press; in a couple of months, there will be a billion AR compatible devices with consumers.

https://www.macrumors.com/2017/06/14/developers-augmented-reality-demos-arkit/ has links to Sir Peter Jackson’s studio’s augmented reality demo, BB-8, a naval battle on an office floor, and someone seeing Overwatch’s WidowMaker standing in their bedroom.

3) xR is a convenient way to show that, whatever the hypetrain is, the author is onboard.

Extended reality (XR) is a term referring to all real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and wearables. It includes representative forms such as augmented reality (AR), augmented virtuality (AV) and virtual reality (VR),[1] and the areas interpolated among them. The levels of virtuality range from partially sensory inputs to immersive virtuality, also called VR.

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Arktouros

I’m not so sure on Augmented Reality. My first thought is how people reacted to Google Glass when that came around with it’s microphone and camera at the ready. My second thought is curiosity to see what it’s actually capable of as, if I’m being honest, I have a bit of a bias imagining the possibilities after so much exposure to sci-fi entertainment content.

VR on the other hand I have actual experience with and I think it’s pretty great. However I wouldn’t say it’s so great that it’s going to completely replace gaming the way we experience it today. I see VR ultimately becoming it’s own medium with it’s own applications, games and otherwise. The biggest struggle I see with VR currently is the way companies are latching onto the label. Many of these “strap-a-phone-to-your-face” low end devices give poor impressions of what high end VR is actually like or capable of. In my opinion, if the device doesn’t let you interact with the virtual environment then I don’t really consider that VR. It’s those poor devices that lead to most of the ignorant criticism we see regarding VR just being “you paid to strap a monitor to your face” when people who have played actual VR know it’s much better than that.

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Korbenik

interacting comes with ir cameras like the connect. VR does not have any high end hardware its all just an idea with people trying to make it affordable for consumer but not delivery of a good experience

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Melissa McDonald

Reviewers are pretty stunned by even the first-gen HoloLens, though. One called it “sorcery”. Its one limitation was FOV, but the manufacturing benefits could be immense. Your headset could lead you through complex assembly, identify the correct bolt or screw from a box of them, lots of efficiencies it could create for things that get made by hands, and a lot of things still are. Robots are great for precision and speed but still not that dexterous.

Edit: and it will revolutionize surgery!

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Arktouros

Like I said, most of the time I just jump right into imagining all sorts of possibilities for technologies like VR or AR but what we can imagine happening and what actually happens are usually two different things. I hope things work out and sounds like some great uses so far, but we’ll see what’s actually out there eventually.

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NeoWolf

The idea od a totally immersive gaming experience that involves all senses is what I want, but we are a LONG way away from that.
I want to plug in and be transported to another reality and see myself as my avatar and have it do what I do when I do it, to experience a game directly not as a third party remote participant.. not be a limited LOS window view where I cannot turn or lean too much or the image totally vanishes and a wierd clunky gauntlet controller to do very limtied things like we currently have.

So my answer is I want both VR and AR as what I hope for requires both and in a way we are still way away from having.

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Korbenik

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOVg2G77q68 totally immersive this technology is not meant to be an affordable paper weight xbox you throw out after a year

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Melissa McDonald

That will be here before you know it. Intel and some others have a new generation of visor that maps your room, and also your hands and arms and body into the VR space. There are already multiple apps that scan “you” into the VR/MR space, and we are about to see an explosion of “dressing room” apps that let you virtually try on clothing. Oculus has tech that can read your expression and map it onto your VR avatar, and they aren’t the only one. What you are describing will be here before much longer. Try googling “See yourself as your avatar VR AR” and you’ll come up with quite a few articles, I think you will find it interesting.

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Danny Smith

Augmented. Absolutely no question. It has no tactile input issues to deal with. Thats checkmate right there. People investing their money into VR hoping for .Hack style ‘dive gear’ with full sensation might defend their purchase with the rabid zeal of your average Star Citizen ship purchaser but “Falling for the VR Meme” will always mean “you paid to strap a monitor to your face for shitty turret games” until some form of sensory input is invented. Thats the harsh reality of it. Its kinect wagglan 3.0 until technology improves.
AR on the other hand can be as simple as “hold your phone up to this with your camera being used and see things that arent there” and pokemon go showed theres money in that.

and thats entirely before none videogame purposes. VR can have its place in training specialist, dangerous jobs in a safe, controlled environment and so on but you want you cyberpunk horror show just wait till something like google glass shows up and actually takes off and restaurants become an empty room of tables you sit down and order from an interface thats not real or pop up adverts literally pop up on the side of buildings fighting for your attention. I dont care for either really but AR already exists in some capacity all around us in tech, it just needs more applications, VR still needs a significant audience before devs start giving a shit about making a quality product that currently is limited to like 5% or less of the usual gaming userbase.

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Arktouros

You mean the same Google Glass that saw the same level of ignorant belittling and nonsensical complaints that we see towards VR headsets currently? LOL ok…

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Melissa McDonald

You didn’t see Zuckerberg showing off what appeared to be an ordinary set of sunglasses as the design standard they are working on for the future?

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Arktouros

No, I generally wait till consumer versions of devices are ready before I start looking into things.

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angrakhan

AR is far more practical for non-entertainment purposes. I saw an article talking about a current military application in development where they put cameras around a tank and the driver wears an AR head set that basically let’s him see through the walls of the tank. Pretty cool really and totally useful. I would think that sort of technology would be very useful for just about any vehicle (except a bike) to eliminate blind spots. I’m sure a submarine helmsman would appreciate an AR tactical view of the sea bed and his surroundings. I think the military will be sinking millions/billions into AR over the next decade whereas VR is solely dependent upon consumers… which thus far have been very lukewarm in their reception of it. As such I think AR will ultimately be the future due to the continued interest and investment by the military/science/engineering sectors.

Eliot Lefebvre
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Eliot Lefebvre

Which is the one that doesn’t require you redesign your living space for hundreds of dollars and strap something bulky to your face when you want to play a video game? Which is the one that actually brings you to somewhere other than your living room instead of demanding you go into the seedy part of town so that you can stabbed in real life?

Because it’s whatever is neither of those.

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Korbenik

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPMkfhCfjVQ holotour they already have some great stuff out. All you have to do is take a 360 camera and you can create your own ar simulations quickly

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Korbenik

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Melissa McDonald

moving furniture around costs hundreds of dollars?

miol
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miol

Someone could argue, people have different experiences! XD

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Witches

Probably something else, AR is actually useful, and technologically more interesting i expect it to become common, VR is just another novelty product, like touchscreen desktops or 3d for movies, a sideways jump pretending to be a step forward.

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MesaSage

I’ve been saying AR for years, no reason to change that opinion now.

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SmugglerSteel

AR will have some entertainment value, but I think over all it will be used to make everyday life easier. (At least in theory) VR will be more entertainment focused, but I still don’t see it taking off in a huge way until we humans have more spare time. The last thing I think people want after working a 8 or 9 hour day is to jump around their living room or game room. Now if they come up with a way to use thought control, eye tracking, so you can experience a virtual world seated while relaxing VR will explode.

For many gaming is about relaxing, unwinding, it’s the illusion of immersion it’s not true immersion. Only small percentage people want the full immersion experience, most just want to visit and dip their toe in.

Think of it like Ren Fair, there are those that work there want to live it and do, but that is a much smaller minority compared to the amount of people that want to just go visit for the day get the micro experience vs dealing with the actual drudgery of day to day operations.

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CasualSlacks
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Korbenik

wanted to link this too its cool this is exactly the real world function ar could go eventually

miol
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miol

One day we’ll have a device that can do both, just like we already have glass that turns intransparent! ;P

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Oleg Chebeneev

Both ofc. AR – daily life. VR – all kinds of entertainment

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Greaterdivinity

I’m largely leaning towards “both”, though if you put a gun to my head I’d argue in favor of AR over VR, as I have for years. I think AR is going to be much easier to get to work in a mobile setting, or with traditional releases using AR for supplementary features, versus proper VR. It’s far more likely to get minimal sized AR headsets vs. VR headsets as things stand now.

I think once hardware get to the point where we can have VR with as low of a profile as AR headsets can get now (Google Glass), VR will really start closing the gap between the two and possibly surpass AR overall. But that tech is still many, many years off, while it’s in the much more immediate future when it comes to AR.

It’s a bit arrogant, but I’m taking great delight in my comments for years being validated by a lot of analysts/media/executives nowadays. The VR overhype train has been going full steam for years, with analysts, executives, and media all proclaiming each year to be “THE YEAR OF VR”. It’s great to see things finally cooling off a bit, they’ve been far too hot without having any actual juice behind it. And the VR hardware sales numbers, and their constant revisions downwards, show that pretty clearly.

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Tobasco da Gama

We’ll see the year of VR around the same time the year of Linux on the desktop finally arrives. ;)

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Sally Bowls

I have found the execs to be more restrained – or less unrestrained – than most. It is not uncommon to them talking about VR being closer to a decade than this year. OTOH, a decade for Linux Desktop …

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Greaterdivinity

I’m a bit more bullish than that : P

I think we’ll see it in a bit over the next decade, but that will be nearly 15 years after media and analysts started proclaiming years to be “THE YEAR OF VR!” It will have its own “iPhone moment” where it gets to the place where the hardware/software needs to be to start hitting mass-market success, and will continue to improve its offers and expand its market over the years. It will just come after AR, at least if companies start seriously pushing AR with the same kind of effort they’ve been putting into VR. Some are making that push now, but it’s far from as big and concerted as it’s been for VR – at least from the consumer-tech angle (from what I’ve seen).

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Korbenik

ar hardware is already setting to be amazingly upgraded in the short term of a couple years, making games that do the exact same thing as 15 years ago take far longer to hatch then the new hardware does

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silverlock

Look at it this way AR will let you be James Bond (minus the sex) VR will let you be Luke Skywalker, you chose.

capt_north
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capt_north

VR has yet to hit the sweet spot of price, processing power, and immersion. I think it’ll get there fairly soon, but this hype cycle missed it.

AR is a fine tech for mobile devices, assuming batteries get a bit better. I think they’ll both thrive, and I see no real conflict between them.

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Melissa McDonald

First-gen had to pay for its R&D and the visors cost too much. But first-gen also identified all the chief problems and obstacles, and companies are working feverishly to mitigate them. “what we have learned so far” is that resolution and refresh rates have to be much higher, visors much lighter-weight, and that room presence is the killer feature that takes a sense of wonder and creates a sense of total immersion.

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Fisty

AR. The games that will make our own world more immersive will be what gets everyone involved. VR is great, but AR is more feasible to go big on a grand scale and put you in the role even more. Would make for some great MMO’s. Walk around with some glasses on that let you do real world quests, with visible NPC’s who talk and walk around you. Something like Secret World, Shadowrun or even like Watch Dogs or Sleeping Dogs. Might turn the world into a full on GTA though.

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Tobasco da Gama

As long as VR demands that you restructure your living room around it while also not having any pets or small children that move unpredictably and might get in your way, I don’t think it’ll catch on for anyone but mega-enthusiasts. Not to mention the persistent motion sickness problem.

The people who VR works best for are the hardcore flight simulator fans, and even *they* aren’t really going for it. Sim pilots like using physical panels to cut down on the number of keybinds they have to memorise, and VR is totally incompatible with that style of physical input.

Ultimately, I see VR as a more expensive version of Wii-style motion controls. It’s a neat tech that will see some interesting uses, but it’ll never become something that all game consoles have to have as a basic feature. (“Kinect and Move!” you say. Sure. But look at how quickly those got unbundled from their consoles. And even the Switch is selling itself more on it’s dock/undock gimmick than the motion control joycons.)

Of course, AR is sort of in the same boat in the sense of being a fairly niche tech. It doesn’t make sense of every game or even most games. But it has a much lower barrier for entry, so I definitely see it sticking around and being a lot more popular than VR. We’ll see how it evolves now that Apple put out a really solid devkit for building AR games.

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zeko_rena

I want it to be like in that Ready Player One trailer :)

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Utakata

I want to attach some GPS devise to my pigtails, so I know where I am all the time…

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Chosenxeno .

I’m not going to entertain this debate because they are NOT THE SAME THING! AR Puts stuff into the World. VR pulls you out of the World.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

Heart says VR, head says AR. Head’s usually right in these things, but I’m really not excited about the latter at all.

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silverlock

AR and VR do different things sure AR has more day to day utility but it wont take you away the way VR can.

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