9 Inspiring Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications

Are you excited about the different types of VR and augmented reality examples you see in the media?

They look really cool, don’t they?

The crossing over of the physical world with the virtual one is an intriguing concept.

But what’s the difference between AR and VR? How do you access the technology? What do augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets do?

Let’s dive on in to see the top inspiring ways people are using VR and AR through examples! First however I want to share a story with you on how I got introduced to AR.

What’s that image? This week’s featured image is of a real-life human! Do you think we will ever start to prefer the virtual world over the real one?

Advertising Disclosure: Artificially Intelligent Claire may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.

How did I get introduced to AR?

I was first fully introduced to augmented reality examples in the summer of 2016, or the summer of Pokemon Go as it will be forever known.

I loved Pokemon as a child, I watched the TV show, played (and completed) it on my Gameboy and collected the cards. When Pokemon Go rocketed into my life my childhood dreams come true.

I had just gotten together with my partner, who also loved Pokemon. We spent several glorious evenings wondering the streets of sunny London town hatching eggs and catching Ratatas.

It was the start of a beautiful relationship and fascination with augmented reality.

difference between AR and VR

What’s the difference between AR and VR?

Typically it comes down to how you absorb and access the content.

Augmented Reality (AR) places the objects being created in the real world. Pokemon Go is an excellent example of AR in action.

In this game, your favorite (if your lucky) and other more common Pokemon appear in your local park ready for you to catch.

Virtual Reality, on the other hand, creates a fully immersive experience for you to explore.

This can be exploring a fictional land or even a real-world environment.

I recently attended The Future Starts Here exhibition at the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). In this exhibition, there was a VR headset for people to try.

When putting it on you were immersed in a coral reef underwater. There were fish swimming around you whichever way you looked. It was terrific, but I consistently felt like I was going to fall over!

Both AR and VR can be accessed through your phone, but that isn’t the only way you can get to play with the technology.

Right so now you know the difference between AR and VR, it’s time to talk some inspirational augmented reality examples and virtual reality uses of the technology.

Top Unique Augmented Reality Examples on your Phone

The simplest and most common, way that most of us will access AR and VR experiences is through our smartphones.

Both iOS and Android have developed toolkits that allow developers to create apps with augmented reality examples. For iOS you have ARKit2 and Android there’s ARCore 1.0.

For you and I, what that means is we are seeing an increasing number of augmented reality apps for us to experiment with.

Augmented Reality Apps for iOS and Android

They’re not just producing games either. As much as I love Pokemon Go it’s not the only augmented reality app.

You just need to pick your poison – Android or iOS.

AR and VR apps

Best augmented reality apps on Android

This article (link) describes the 12 best-augmented reality examples for apps on Android (as of April 2018). My three favorites from this list are:

  1. Google translate: Who doesn’t love using google translate? It’s so incredibly useful. With the app, you can use it not only on pieces of text you copy in but also by pointing your camera at a sign and having it translated in real time. Traveling just got a whole lot simpler
  2. Ingress: This game lets you be immersed into a Sci-Fi world, go on missions and find virtual portions. If my obsession with the Pokemon Go experience is anything to go by, this is bound to be a winner.
  3. Inkhunter: I love tattoos. I don’t have many, but I love it when I see beautiful tattoos on others as inspiration for when I decide to commit to my next one. Inkhunter allows you to see how different tattoos would look on you from their library. Great for inspiration and helping you make an informed decision about your art.

Best augmented reality apps on iOS

In this article (link) you can read about the best augmented reality examples for apps on iOS (again dated April 2018). My favorites are:

  1. Giphy world: I love Gifs! And with this app, I can add them into my photos and videos in real time. Makes for some hilarious selfies – what’s not to love? Don’t believe I love gifs – check out this post (link) and you’ll see:). I truly relate to them so much.
  2. Chalk: This app uses AR to provide real-time tech support. Have you ever been stuck on the phone for hours trying to work out which button the Customer Service team are telling you to press while worrying about touching the wrong one and destroying EVERYTHING! Well no longer, with chalk you can go through it together in real time. What a relief.
  3. ARise: Calming and serene are rarely words I hear when talking about gaming but this AR-based game allows you to play with their virtual and beautiful world inside your home. Annnnnd relax.augmented reality glasses

Inspire Sci-Fi fans with Augmented Reality Glasses

Fed up of having to look through your phone to see AR experiences? Another way that you can access the  augmented reality examples we talk about is through augmented reality glasses. Previously a fantasy shared with us in Sci-Fi movies it’s now becoming a reality!

They’re pretty expensive, costing 100s if not 1000s of dollars per pair. However, if you want to live out your Charles Augustus Magnussen (of Sherlock villain fame) fantasy you can.

Which augmented reality glasses should I buy?

Full disclosure, I have not tried Augmented Reality glasses. From the articles I have read, you can get an ‘entry-level’ pair for $150.

They come from Snap, (the company behind Snapchat), and they’re ‘cheap and cheerful.’

You can take photos and videos – basic functionality but still fun. An excellent way to get started but don’t expect the world to change completely.

Feeling flush and want something better? Then try Vuzix Blade AR

coming in at a spicy $1800. According to the reviews, it gives a great picture and has a good camera on board as well as 4GB of storage. With about 2.5hours of battery life, it’s enough to keep you going

Interested in finding out more? I recommend you check out this article (link). It gave the most comprehensive reviews of augmented reality glasses and advice for purchasing.

Less worried about augmented reality examples and want VR instead? You need virtual reality headsets!

Enter the world of Virtual Reality headsets

As I said earlier, the critical difference between AR and VR is that the VR world is fully immersive which means you have to shut out the real world.

Enter Virtual Reality headsets.

Which virtual reality headset should I buy?

A few summers ago I had hours of fun playing with the Samsung over the VR headset, Samsung Gear VR.

From what I have seen I would still say this is the best entry-level model to get playing with VR. It’s only around £30, you can get it quickly through Samsung or Amazon, and it works.

What more does your standard consumer need?

virtual reality headset

If on the other hand your a more dedicated gamer with some money to spend, then you might want to check out the HTC Vive for PC or Sony PlayStation VR if you have a PS4.

I know a lot less about these types of tethered headsets (meaning attached to the machine) but if you want to understand more about them then check out this post for the Vive  (my favorite article for content and explanation of virtual reality headsets) or this one which summarizes the Sony.

How is artificial intelligence being used to develop AR and VR?

So now we have our augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets it’s time to talk about how to use them.

The power of artificial intelligence (AI) to step change the performance of systems is hardly a revelation to people at this point. All the VR and augmented reality examples we discussed rely on artificial intelligence.

If you’re new to the concept of AI or want to refresh your knowledge you can check out my beginners guide here.

artificial intelligence in AR and VR

Just thinking about it in the most simple terms and taking the example of AR, for augmented reality examples to work the machine needs to be able to see the world.

For the machine to be able to see or possess computer vision as it’s known, it needs artificial intelligence.

For computer vision, you need to train it to be able to recognize objects in the world, read text off the page (like the Google Translate app) and know where it makes sense for Ratata to appear in your augmented Pokemon Go reality.

I know what you’re thinking – stop going on about Pokemon Go Claire! Sorry about that – I did love it!

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Virtual reality and augmented reality examples enhanced by AI

There will be times when the machine also needs to be able to think more like a person, learn new skills and speak to you in your reality. All of these are aspects of artificial intelligence; again I cover then in my beginner’s guide.

One area for AI to be used precisely to enhance AR & VR experiences is by learning and predicting which of them are going to be most engaging for the person using it.

For example, which land would you most like to explore? This kind of understanding will help take gaming to the next level and create excellent content for the user.

It is essential that these developments are done ethically so everyone can benefit. Read my thoughts on how to keep AI ethical without compromising creativity here.

3 innovative and unexpected virtual and augmented reality examples

Streaming Virtual Reality GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

[prosthetic knowledge credit]

So we’ve talked a little bit above about some of the ways you can access it. Apps on your phone are relatively universal, and people are more familiar with how it’s used in gaming. So I’m not going to go into more detail on these two areas now. This is a good article on uses of VR in gaming if you do want to learn more.

One thing I do know if that as this technology gets anymore enticing there is an extreme possibility that I will lose Cameron to it. He is an avid gamer and passionate about both AR and VR.

My days could indeed be numbered!

Good Bye GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Three unexpected ways people are using AR and VR

There are also plenty of ways in which businesses, in particular, eCommerce are starting to use virtual and augmented reality examples to support Customers.

  1. Healthcare: Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I am super passionate about the potential for the use of AI in healthcare and science. Check out this post on why I love it (link). Specifically, AR & VR can be used in healthcare to introduce someone to a situation or object gradually. This treats conditions such as PTSD and phobias – like arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
  2. Education and Training: Imagine learning about the prehistoric and being able to see a mammoth in your classroom or a dinosaur? You could see the examples as a bit of a stretch, but there are plenty of ways in which giving children an immersive learning experience could help with education. Especially if your a more visual learner who likes to picture things like me.
  3. Building Empathy: The final example I’m going to pull out is one I thought intriguing, but that makes sense. The saying goes to know a person you need to walk a mile in their shoes. Well, imagine being able to do that with VR? What would that mean for how we treat each other or how we react to things like the refugee crisis we have seen on the news? Building more empathy between people and the world we live in can only be a good thing in my view. If VR helps us do that then bring it on!

This post (link) has a load more of exciting examples of uses of AR/VR that you might not have thought of before. These different uses of the technology also help you with understanding the difference between AR and VR.

Doctor Who Dancing GIF by Cheezburger - Find & Share on GIPHY

Where will the development of AR and VR go over the next few years?

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 100 times, this is an exhilarating time to be alive.

I can’t pretend to know where it will take us. People identify new applications all the time. Sorry if the heading misled you. This post lists some areas where Machine Learning (one form of AI) is helping us move technology forward as an alternative (link).

With people constantly coming up with innovative virtual and augmented reality examples, making these available to people on mass, there seems no limit to what this technology can achieve.

VR gaming may one-day steel Cameron from me. However, if things keep progressing, maybe I’ll be able to replace him with my own AR version! Perhaps this version will learn not to leave their socks on the floor… THE WASHING BASKET IS RIGHT THERE!

Side note, I remember my sister got a shiny Charizard in her first ever packet of Pokemon cards. I still hold a grudge against her for this 20 years on.

my sister and I

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