Tech DeKoded — AR, in the shadows of VR

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Magic Leap AR

Whether you asked for it or not, it comes default in the box whenever you buy a new gadget. Often, you simply throw it away. In fact, for some, the very thought of using it sounds like an insult to the geeky ego!
Yes, we are talking of the instruction manual. Which, incidentally, still uses an old tech — paper. Though in the near future, technology could make it redundant. Instead, you would download an app, turn the phone’s camera at the product, and voila!, the instructions and details would automagically float over it.
Hyundai's AR appCalled Augmented Reality (AR), this tech has been steadily improving over the years and finding unique uses. For example, car-maker Hyundai recently released a ‘digital manual’ for the 2015 and 2016 Sonata models, where you point the phone at a part of the vehicle, and “labels pop up detailing what you’re looking at”. Tap on one, and you can dig deeper, with more overlays or videos.
However, augmented reality has a PR problem — its cousin VR (Virtual Reality) has been hogging most of the limelight. And the big bets, too. But here’s the reality check — according to top GPU-maker, Nvidia, less than one per cent of PCs currently out there are powerful enough to deliver a highly-immersive 360-degree experience. In fact, PCs need to become seven times more powerful to do full justice to VR content. Yes, we will certainly get there, but it will be a few years before your neighbours are all rocking VR-capable rigs.
Microsoft HololensOn the other hand, AR is mostly here and now. Currently, it is limited more by human imagination than by any tech constraints. As this TechCrunch post points out, AR is “for the real world” and it will become “the dominant technology” in our daily lives. And soon, adding more spice to the AR life, will be devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens, and the Magic Leap, which is backed by the likes of Google and Qualcomm. As the TechCrunch post adds, “Both VR and AR tinker with our reality — but AR enhances it, while VR diverts us from it.”
So this year, expect more of the “gimmicky” AR ideas to fall by the wayside, to be replaced by those that add real value and context to your life. As also let you change your car’s air filter without you breaking a sweat.