The difference between AR, VR and Pokémon Go

Out of all that we have discussed till now, we very well know that Virtual Reality is all about escapism. All one needs is a nicely fitting HMD and a pair of earphones to teleport to a new world. VR deprives your senses, from keeping a track of the world you are in and it comes no less than a surprise that people are tagging this new rage Pokémon Go as a VR game. Well if you say that it makes you unaware of your surroundings and you keep banging into other people as you are busy looking for that rare Vaporeon on your phone, then I must tell you that it is not what I mean by losing a track of the real world.

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By the way, just in case you are one of those living under a rock and haven’t come across the phenomenon called Pokémon Go, then it is supposedly an ‘Augmented Reality (AR)’ game which will use your smartphone and insert Pokémon into your surroundings so that you can try to catch them. Not just that the game also encourages players to get out and explore, only after which one can catch hold of a Pokémon. Well, that sounds really cool and we are surely hoping to soon hear Pokémon Go weight loss stories. Jokes aside the game has actually become the biggest mobile game in the US history while breaking records of apps like Twitter and Tinder in terms of downloads and number of users.

So, Pokémon Go has been released as an AR game with an amazing concept video for AR. But for the beginners again, there is a lot of difference between AR and VR. The biggest difference between the two technologies is that with AR one can experience the world around them but with a digitally changed environment; while in the case of VR one experiences a separate digital world altogether, presented by an HMD like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. By now, we assume that we can easily strike out the option of Pokémon Go being anywhere close to VR. Now let’s talk about the game and is connect with AR.

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Sadly, in reality, the game is nowhere close to its announcement video. So how do we categorize it as ‘augmented reality’? Well, let’s start with the first feature of GPS tracking. This means that in order to find Pokémon and Poké spots, one has to physically move around. This doesn’t look as great as it sounds, for one is, in a way looking at the stylized version of the maps on your phone. So nothing fancy out here.

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The next said to be ‘AR’ feature is the camera view which upon discovering a Pokémon, shows the creature superimposed on whatever the phone’s camera happens to be looking at. But to our disappointment, it really doesn’t augment reality and that superimposition of Pokémon looks BAD. Like for a general example, how the famous image messaging app Snapchat knows the shape of your face and helps augment it in interesting ways. But Pokémon Go knows nothing more about your reality or surroundings. Pokémon superimposed in your surrounding can’t really be tagged as augmenting reality but merely conflicting with it.

Overall, Pokémon Go is a nice, interactive and without failing addictive game but calling it as a benchmark for an AR game would not be the best choice of words. There is a lot which still needs to be done in the game to make it a successful augmented reality; nevertheless, the efforts and thought process cannot be ignored. The game with its popularity is sure to make the technology more popular and much in demand but we would definitely expect better trials the next time.

 

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