There’s a new era of technology starting to form that has the potential to change the way we use computers on a daily basis.  I’m talking about some terms you may have heard of recently – AR and VR.

I’m going to start with VR, or Virtual Reality, as it’s been around for quite a while!   It’s only recently where technological and optical advancements have reached the point where it’s really become interesting.   Virtual Reality if you haven’t heard of it is where you place a screen (technically 2) over your eyes to block out the real world.   As you move your head around, a tracking system detects this and adjusts the image on the screen to move with your head.   You’re left thinking that what you’re seeing on the screen is really around you (hence the Virtual Reality).

Where this really excels is in games where you become so integrated in the game that it feels like reality.   Move your head around and you can see your surroundings in the game.   However, if this tracking is even slightly off – your brain gets confused resulting in you feeling sick.  Ever felt seasick or travel sick?  This is the same.  It’s only in recent years that the tracking has become so advanced and quick that this is less of an issue.

Virtual Reality also has its place in education.   Imagine teaching a classroom full of children about Rome.  They could all wear VR headsets and “almost” experience Rome for real without leaving the classroom.   In fact, this is limitless.   Want to see what it’d be like to stand on the surface of Mars – just a mouse click away.

One of the leading manufacturers of VR headsets was bought out by Facebook.  You have to wonder how they plan to integrate this in the future!

Now although VR is amazing, I’m more interested to see what the future holds for AR.   AR stands for Augmented Reality.   In AR, you see a mix of real life along with computer images merged together.   With this technology you wear a headset which displays a computer image in front of your eyes, but without blocking your real-world surroundings.

Google have already experimented in this field with the Google Glass.   It was a headset which projected an image in front of you – overlaid on what you were looking at.    With this on you could be walking down the street with directions appearing as though they were hovering in front of you.

Where this gets really interesting is when the technology is so good that the images blend so well with reality that it’s hard to tell what’s fake and what’s real.    That computer screen on your desk – you no longer need it!   Click your fingers and a simulated one appears wherever you want it.  The same goes for TV.  Don’t like that 30” TV, make a gesture and you’re suddenly looking at a 130” TV!

No longer do you need to look at a cell phone screen.  In fact, this could make cell phones as you know them obsolete.   In fact, anything that has a screen is no longer needed.

If you need any further convincing that this is the future – just take a look at the company Magic Leap.   They haven’t released a product yet, but, have the promise of a sophisticated AR headset that has already gained them nearly $2 billion in funding.

The future is nearly here and it’s really exciting!