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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are revolutionising the way we deliver training, education and entertainment. But what is the difference between the two, and how could they help your business?

Augmented Reality versus Virtual Reality

AR and VR are similar, in that they both create simulations that replicate or interact with the real world. The main difference is that Virtual Reality places the user inside a simulation, usually via the use of a VR headset, while Augmented Reality overlays a simulation onto what you’re actually seeing in the real world.

Examples of Augmented Reality in practice

One of the most famous examples of an Augmented Reality-based application is the popular game Pokemon Go. This uses your smartphone’s GPS and its camera to digitally superimpose animated creatures onto the landscape. As if taking a picture, the user holds up their phone and sees their surroundings on the screen. In pops a Pokemon, which the player then ‘catches’ to earn points.

But not all Augmented Reality requires the use of a smartphone. For example, Pepsi Max recently created an AR bus stop in London. They placed a screen on one of the bus shelter’s sides. Cameras live-filmed the street beyond it, creating the illusion that the screen was in fact a window. They then superimposed alien spacecraft, people floating off attached to balloons, and other extraordinary sights onto the street scene. Passers-by stared open-mouthed at the bizarre events unfolding before their eyes.

Examples of Virtual Reality in practice

Gaming is an area in which Virtual Reality has really taken off. VR headsets are now readily available to the consumer market. The user pops on a headset, which responds to their head and body movements. If they walk forward in the real world, the simulation moves forward. If they turn their head, they can see what is on either side of them.

When it was first launched, Virtual Reality was grainy at best, and nauseating at worst. Thankfully VR technology has seen rapid advancements in recent years. Nowadays, VR simulations are so realistic they are being used to train people in potentially life-threatening situations, such as fire safety training and emergency response training.

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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for business

AR and VR have come a long way from the novelties they were a few years ago. Businesses and government agencies are using both AR and VR to deliver service, train their employees and improve business processes.

According to Forbes, over 50% of the workforce is expected to be working remotely by 2020. So companies will need to innovate to ensure their employees are well-connected, and have access to training without unnecessary travel. Virtual and Augmented reality provide a solution in the form of realistic training scenarios that can be delivered outside of the classroom.

For example, hardware company CISCO has found a novel way of helping technicians install equipment more easily using Augmented Reality. Flipping through instruction manuals slows down machine installation and repairs, and it can be difficult to apply instructions to real-world situations. So AR is used to overlay virtual tutorials onto the actual equipment. This makes the whole process much quicker, and helps technicians understand how to use the assembly tools in a variety of circumstances.

Another company that’s using AR in its employee training is General Motors. This training is being delivered using Google Glass. The Augmented Reality glasses show workers exactly what they need to do while they perform their tasks simultaneously. Instructing workers in a classroom not only takes them away from their work, it also relies on them being able to recall the information back on the factory floor. With AR training, they learn through ‘doing’, while still performing their duties.

Similarly, Virtual Reality training is being rolled across a number of sectors and industries, such as the medical industry, fire service departments and customer service.

If you’d like to know more about how these technologies could work for your business, get in touch with our team here at Absorb Reality. Absorb Reality is a VR training provider based in Surrey. We work with organisations of all sizes, delivering ready-made and bespoke training courses using Virtual Reality. Contact us to find out more.