Do You Prefer Your Reality Augmented, Virtual or Altered?

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    Augmented reality (AR) is perhaps the coolest technology out there, and that is saying a lot because we have so many from which to choose.

    The entire broad reality category is set to become even cooler. Intel may be developing a headset along the lines of Microsoft’s HoloLens. The device would use Intel’s RealSense 3D camera technology, says eWeek. 

    For those not completely sure of the difference, the piece clearly distinguishes between virtual reality and augmented reality. In the virtual world, everything is computer generated. Augmented reality, as a mix of the real and generated, holds special promise in both business and entertainment applications:

    AR is another market that holds a lot of promise for Intel. Augmented reality is used to merge the physical and virtual worlds to supplement and improve a person’s experience of his or her environment. Computer-generated elements are used to augment what the person sees, displayed on screens through smartphones and tablets or through wearable devices like smart glasses and goggles.

    IT Business Edge’s Rob Enderle offers a post today at Datamation on the initial developer rollout of the HoloLens, which he says begins this month. Enderle thinks that the Microsoft project goes beyond both augmented and virtual reality to break the seal on a new category: altered reality. This, he suggests, will be a big deal to the business community:

    While there has been a lot of focus on gaming, the initial opportunity for this technology is mostly in commercial deployments. With applications ranging from modeling, architecture, space planning, emulation and telepresence, this product could massively improve and disrupt how industries operate. However, one area that I don’t think folks are thinking of for HoloLens is video conferencing.

    Enderle’s point on video conferencing is simple. As far as unified communications and related techniques have come during the past couple of decades, the experience is still not as good as being there. It may have benefits that outweigh the deficits, such as savings in time and money, but it is still inferior to an in-person meeting. The HoloLens, he thinks, can actually equalize the experience.

    Definitions of augmented reality, virtual reality and, if it catches on, altered reality, include lots of gray area. Yesterday, Rachel Metz at the MIT Technology Review profiled startup Meta, and put its headset offering in the augmented reality category. The company this week rolled out Meta 2 for developers. The headset, she wrote, “shows bright, crisp 3-D images that you can easily and accurately nab, move, and poke.” Meta 2 is available for pre-order for $949.

    Small companies such as Meta and the big players set up what is a classic case of very fast development. Both big and small will contribute new ideas. The result will be advances that will shock those who aren’t paying close attention. It seems likely that as many of these surprises will be experienced at the office as at holiday time.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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