Augmented reality or virtual reality, how to choose?

Virtual reality, mixed reality, augmented reality, what’s the difference? For professional use, which one is best? Is the technology complementary or incompatible? As is the case with most new technology, we’re navigating uncharted waters. The purpose of this article is to give you some straightforward answers to make good use of these tools and boost productivity in your company.

To keep things simple, we will start by going over augmented reality and virtual reality. Mixed reality is an extension of augmented reality, and we will go more into detail on that in a special section.


Real-time 3D, a common thread.

CAD Model for Augmented Reality
CAD Model for Augmented Reality by Oreka

The similarity between virtual reality and augmented reality is real-time 3D.  This means that the computer generated image is continuously calculated before its 3D representation.

The advantage here is the user can interact with the augmented reality or virtual reality application. Most noteworthy, they are able to move and animate objects, as well as walk or shift around in a scene.

On the other hand, the computing power required to display 3D forms is a big disadvantage. A high rendering speed needs to be maintained to avoid being perceivable by retinal sensitivity.

This demanding processing power will certainly have an impact on the pros and cons of augmented and virtual reality applications.


Virtual reality – augmented reality, what’s the difference?

In a schematic way, virtual reality shows the user computer generated images developed by 3D software. The user is wholly immersed in a virtual environment projected on a screen or glasses to increase the immersive effect. Accordingly, the user will be able to discover, test and evaluate a project in the making.

Augmenetd Reality for meters machin
Neopost has equipped its commercial teams with augmented reality glasses to sell its CSP 500

Conversely, in an augmented (and mixed) reality application, the real-life environment becomes the screen onto which a 3D shape is projected. Users remain in their real environment, for example in their office, their living room or their warehouse. And a device (tablet, glasses) will allow them to view one or more objects in 3D. Subsequently, the augmented reality application will allow them to move around the 3D object, to manipulate it, to change its size, its color … and to observe in real time the effect of the 3D object.


How and when to use augmented reality apps

The need for augmented reality and virtual reality apps will more often be complementary than incompatible. Let’s take one or two illustrative examples.

An industrial machinery company wants to use augmented or virtual reality for sales support and maintenance.

Sales assistance

Virtual Reality for Factory
Virtual Reality for Factory by Oreka

With an augmented reality sales support application, sales representatives can go to potential clients and show them in real size, in the workshop or warehouse, the machine the client wants to acquire. Thus, the client can easily anticipate the problems of circulation and handling, flow management or connection to existing networks. The client will be able to foresee future use without the need to create a model and reproduction of their warehouse or workshop.

On the downside, the cost of a complete 3D environment is too high for just the sale of standardized machines. Therefore augmented reality makes it possible to industrialize the use of a 3D product catalog.

Nevertheless, if the customer needs a machine to be custom-built on a production line and wants to model the potential productivity benefits before making their decision, then creating a dedicated virtual reality application makes sense. While the pre-sales project will be longer and more expensive, some business investments require this approach.

Operator training

Similarly, an augmented reality app and a VR app can be very complementary.

When training operators to intervene in extreme environments (nuclear power plant, high-rise wind turbines, etc.), virtual reality will allow the operator to experience environments that are difficult to access in real life. Similarly, it will be possible to create extreme incidents. Incidents that we hope will never happen, but must anticipate to improve security.

In another case, an augmented reality application would be very useful to train workers on an existing production line. The application can guide the worker to quickly learn the right gestures by highlighting, in the real environment, the actions to be performed and the materials to use.  Moreover, a quality control procedure can be integrated into this augmented reality app, to ensure user progress.

Virtual reality – augmented reality, how to choose your service provider / pathway?

Firstly, do not be fooled by a technophile or dogmatic discourse. You will come across augmented reality worshipers just as often as virtual reality devotees.

That being said, augmented reality and virtual reality are both fantastic tools, straightforward to master. So, choose a partner who has a profound professional understanding with real expertise in your sector (industry, retail, energy, etc.) or your need (training, sales and marketing or maintenance).

Finally (and I’m slightly lobbying here) you should think strongly about the medium term. Your AR or VR application can respond to a specific need. But how does one maintain and grow this solution and deploy it in a consistent and efficient way in a company? If you want to know more about the management of augmented reality applications, visit our site. For virtual reality check out this link to Oreka.

To broaden your knowledge on the management of the digital transformation, refer to the post on digital transformation.

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