Do you remember the huge buzz over Pokémon Go, the game that got everyone walking around in the streets, catching non-existing virtual creatures with their phones? Do you remember how people in the news, channels and social media, went crazy talking only about the game? Well, they were right about their madness! Not only for their interest in the game, but the incredible technology behind it. For its virtual sophistication and technicalities, the game used to transfer people to a special eye-dazzling zone. That is one of the main reasons the game went viral in no time. Adding another dimension and excitement to the real world, the augmented reality is revolutionizing the world of visual technology.
So, what is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality is the technology that layers computer-generated images on the view of the real world, as the user sees it through special glasses. So, the resulting scene, is a combination of both artificial and real worlds.
Nevertheless, if people are entering a different zone, so how Augmented Reality is different than Virtual Reality?
In virtual reality, people enter a world that is completely computer-generated. In this closed environment, there is no connection to the real world. Through special glasses, people live in a simulation of the real life, giving them the illusion that they are actually interacting with the digital environment. The only real part of the virtual reality experience, is that users have navigational freedom. In other words, as the glasses responds to their body and head movement, they can move around their virtual world.
On the other hand, in augmented reality, people see the real-life environment that surround them, through the special glasses. Nevertheless, these glasses add digital enhancements to the existing world. Through mixing both virtual and real world, augmented reality aims to enrich and improve the real-life experience.
Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Social Media: An Odd Integration?
Well, not really! We have been using the technology of augmented reality in some of the social media applications every day, like Snapchat. Through applying different filers to our selfies, or adding virtual images to our videos, we were using augmented reality as we are taking them. Although, people did this to have fun and enjoy their networking experience, social media platforms are shifting to this trend very quickly. Why? Well, augmented reality is based on the idea of mixing both virtual and real worlds to enrich the real-life experience. So, adding this to the concept of social media, means posting, editing and enhancing our lives in real-time to our social media presence.
We are not there yet. Nevertheless, companies are developing glasses, and improving their platforms to support such integration. Here are the top examples.
Facebook has always wanted to join people in all their activities and to be a default part of their lives. Creating different apps and improving its features, Facebook grew to become the biggest social network in the whole world. So, logically speaking, it must be from the first to establish a vision for the augmented and virtual reality integration, and to work on implementing it. As a matter of fact, in 2014, Facebook bought Oculus VR, one of the most famous virtual reality companies around the world. Rumors and speculations, then, rose to discuss how the company is developing special glasses that integrates this technology to enhance the Facebook user-experience.
During the Facebook’s developers events; F8 Conference in April 2016, Mark Zuckerberg predicted that in the future normal-looking glasses will have the ability to do both virtual and augmented reality. Furthermore, as he believes that this technology will become a part of everyday’s life, adding it to the social media experience is a definite integration.
New Era For Snap Inc (Snapchat)
Snap Inc is also one of the leading examples for this integration. As a matter of fact, considering its editing features, Snapchat has been the first social media to have augmented-reality filters. Adding images to photos and videos in real-time, increased its popularity among users and urged competitors to imitate its features. Before getting into the details of how it all started, you should know that Snapchat has changes its name into Snap Inc., defining themselves as a camera company. This explains a lot of their current and future products and plans, but let’s start from the beginning and discover their journey.
First, Snap acquired “Looksery,” the selfie animation app, which made the company add its technology to the platform, introducing the new “Lenses”. Then, it acquired “Seene,” also known as Obvious Engineering, the application that allows users to take 3D photos using their phone camera, which will support Snapchat with their selfie lenses, and AR projects. Another company that joined the Snap family is Vergence Lab, which used to produce smart glasses that let’s people record videos when they touch a certain button.
This last integration would explain the company’s latest, most impressive productions: the “Spectacles”. The glasses allows its users to take photos and videos from their sight level. Then, through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the glasses post them to the user’s Snapchat account. It is true that Spectacles are currently just camera glasses. However, producing this glasses achieves a huge step for the company to build an updated version that implements both object-recognition and facial-recognition technology, to the captured photos and videos.
Twitter is Catching up
In mid 2016, Twitter has confirmed the rumors that claimed it was hiring a specialized team to work on virtual augmented reality for the company. Although no new product or updates were announced for the platform, this top is going to help Twitter improve the “User-generated Content”. By capturing “Here and Now” videos live at events, the platform aims to increase its users and compete with Snap using AR technology.
Virtual Reality as a Social Media Platform?
A few years ago this question might have been negotiable, but today it is a reality. Meet vTime, the world’s first VR sociable network. Using a smartphone and a VR headset, the network allows its users to meet, interact and chat with one another in various virtual places. Users create their own lifelike avatar, and invite from 1-3 friends to join them in one of 12 virtual locations. Chatting together in real-time and taking selfies, vTime gives a glimpse to the experience of socialization of the near future. In an update to the platform, vTime allowed its users to share their own photos, and thus, they can create their personal location using these photos. The idea here is not to only communicate with people at different places and times, but also to create memories together and share a unique social experience.
Technology is advancing every second of every day, working to connect our world and build a better future. Enriching and enhancing our social experiences, augmented reality, virtual reality and social media are leading our world to a smarter and more socially- connected life. In the end, we are all left amazed and wondering: how our future will be in the coming few years.
Featured Image by: Freepik