By: Meg Athavale
Like most other game lovers, I fell in love with Portal, and it's only natural that I thought the Aperture Science demo on the HTC Vive was probably the coolest way to not fix a robot and then get sentenced to a death room. Virtual reality is undeniably amazing. Even the slightly creepier, remote, joint VR experiences that Facebook and Oculus will surely begin to throw at their users over the next year or two are going to be pretty exciting.
But the technology I'm most excited about is the Microsoft Hololens. And here's why. Virtual reality allows designers and developers to create completely new realms and experiences, include participants remotely in believable 3D environments, and even recreate events in ways that are as emotive and visceral as if you were actually there. But the Hololens isn't offering virtual reality. It's offering augmented reality; ie: way better reality. And reality is something we can share, in real places, in real time.
Sure, at some point we'll all be able to bolt on our headsets and hover around in a virtual reality version of World of Warcraft together, navigating our gorgeous elf princess warrior avatar around while our real self lounges on a sofa chair in jammies. But we won't really be together. And we won't really be moving.
Augmented reality gives us a chance to stay connected to the real world, while adding the advantages of the digital world. So instead of escaping real life, we can composite our imaginations on top of it and share our unique view of the world with others. It can turn brushing your teeth into a game, or add 3D visualizations to an architectural model, or allow you to hunt tigers in your living room. Also, sports will be more fun. For real.
Don't get me wrong, I think there's a good case for both VR and AR. It's just that the idea of painting the actual world the way I want it to look is far more interesting to me then trying to make another pretend world that, at the moment, can only be explored in a 10' x 10' box.