When it comes to designing products and services increasing importance is attributed to an overarching and holistic customer experience. An integral approach to do so is utilizing the potential of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).
Augmented reality refers to an interactive enhancement of the real-word environment and the user’s current perception of it by overlaying it with digital information. That means the user of an AR device experiences a combination of real and virtual worlds, an accurate 3D registration of real and virtual objects and real-time interaction. Perceiving such a seamlessly interwoven experience can be facilitated by applying visual, acoustic, haptic, olfactory and somatosensory modalities. AR applications and devices can be used in manifold situations, for instance in classroom education, repair and maintenance, design and modelling, retail as well as medical training and entertainment.
Whereas they seem to be akin augmented reality is not to be confused with virtual reality. The latter isolates users and provides them with a fully simulated experience of the real world and consists of fabricated elements to a high degree. Such artificial environment can be generated by simulating as many senses as possible and equipping the user with audio-visual devices. Typical use cases of VR can be found in the fields of video gaming, virtual classrooms and treatment of mental illness.
However, both augmented and virtual reality have in common that they enable the user to experience real-time and contextual responses to his or her actions and interactions with the environment.