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Augmented or Virtual Reality? The Canvy Team picks up on this trendy question

Recently, TechCrunch launched a question on what the future holds for smartphones and apps, in regards with enhanced reality. More precisely, they invited their readers to contemplate the possibility of smartphone AR stunting VR’s growth. As we are keeping an eye on smartphone-related technology here at Canvy, we also contemplate this idea, while keeping in touch with the latest related news.

 

How does smartphone AR look like and why is it appealing?

Smartphone AR presumes specially designed apps that allow users to add virtual layers to the reality around them, as reflected on the screens of their phones. Of course, explaining the Augmented Reality concept in this simplified way might seem laughable to all those already familiarized with it.

If nothing else, think of the latest craze that swept the world of its feet – Pokemon Go. Employing AR combined the mobile game with real-life places and landscapes, while sending the players into outside world quests. Even if sometimes the two realities clashed and some people faced various types of dangers, the success of this game managed to put AR back into the spotlight, at times when VR is facing slow growth. Other developers saw the opportunity to launch their Pokemon Go –inspired apps, so the AR trend gained traction.

Virtual Reality desperately needs specially tailored apps, dedicated hardware, seamless integration between them and seems more complicated to orchestrate than AR. (Mind you, “seems” is the key word here, because surely there must be AR software that takes a lot of time and hard work to deliver, just as VR programs do.) However, it is realistic to say that VR is facing (slightly) difficult times.

 

What advantages do push AR in front of VR?

Another important element is that VR, as TechCrunch mentions, is superior to what the smartphones can offer. In fact, the authors say that it will always be superior, but one never knows what the future holds in terms of phone design and capabilities, so we thought of applying here the old saying of “never say never”. So VR requires much more advanced hardware than our current smartphones hold. Therefore, advantage AR…

All things considered (besides those mentioned above, there are also others), AR is fit for smartphones.

  • It is appealing, due to the fact that it restores the user’s relationship with their surroundings;
  • It also enables local experiences, thus attracting marketers;
  • It is visually pleasing, while allowing the user to include it in his/her usual activities;

(Because it is not disruptive in the way VR is, by conditioning the entire experience through the need of complete immersion into the virtual.)

  • Both Google and Apple test (or already built AR solutions) into their products;
  • It has been around for a while and people expect it to bloom in the next-gen series of smartphones.

 

Is it a race we are witnessing or are the two technologies completing each other?

The answer to this question depends on where we stand when addressing it. As we’ve mentioned above, some consider smartphones are destined for AR. Others might design VR applications that go with enhanced mobiles, thus making the two technologies compete on the same devices’ segment.

On the other hand, those investing in VR lead us to believe that, once perfected, the VR technology will be like no other. Therefore, there will be no question of any competition between AR and VR, just because we will witness VR going out of AR’s league, so to say. This remains to be seen. Until then, it seems that throwing VR into investment-related conversations still has a magic effect. Yet there are many who wonder how much until the magic wears off, if the promises that raised so much enthusiasm don’t deliver sometime soon.

The race seems shifty – depending upon elements that the large audience has little access to, if any. Elements laying within the R&D divisions of various companies, ranging from tech giants to small startups. And, of course, the Canvy Team knows all about R&D activities and putting bright ideas into practice.

Perhaps one day, the photos you assign to your Canvy contacts would become AR-enabled images. For now, we provide a visually fun canvas of contacts, bright-colored and organized by your interaction degree with each contact.

 

canvy facebook f8 conference

What do you think about Facebook’s F8 statements? The Canvy Team summarized them for you

Facebook is one of the most important social media platforms, currently engaging 1.86 billion monthly active users. As you all know, it is one of the platforms integrated by Canvy, communications-wise. With our contact manager app Canvy, you can see your contacts’ Facebook account, and you can reach them via this channel, if active and set as preferred.

Therefore Facebook-related news is a matter of tangential interest for us. Recently (aka, on 18-19 April 2017), the company held its (quasi) annual F8 conference. The future plans unveiled this year in San Jose, California, sent ripples all through the tech world. Why is that?

Mind-controlled technology

As he confessed in 2016, Mark Zuckerberg wants to build a next-generation computer platform in which “people are the foundational element.” In view of this, his company uses R&D that should lead to valid prototypes of brain-computer experiences.

A while ago, Zuckerberg referred to AR and VR as appealing extensions of traditional human interactions. Yet Facebook’s Oculus VR venture got hit in 2016-2017 by a lawsuit where the court ruled in favor of their opponent, Zenimax. The $500 million in damages Facebook has to pay dampened a bit Zuckerberg’s VR enthusiasm. Add to this the fact that at the beginning of April 2017 the company is dragged into court via yet another Oculus-related lawsuit, the immediate future of Facebook VR is not looking so good.

However, the plans for brain-computer integration are not suspended, as the F8 discussions revealed. Apparently, a team of 60 engineers lodged in the Building 8 works on a technology that should allow us to type words on a computer by using just our minds.

Technology aims to materialize SF concepts

Although we are living in times of huge scientific and technological progress, many of us tend to still feel amazed by concepts like the ones of the Facebook F8 Conference. Typing words by using just our minds, hearing via the skin (for hearing-impaired persons), creating brain interfaces – all these are unsettling in a certain way, as TechCrunch puts it.

Perfecting such technology would break the inner-outer world barrier, in what the human mind is concerned. The optional character of giving up the privacy of our thoughts already is the big question for some. The F8 news reached various mass-media publications and became viral, and there are voices talking about tech-induced telepathy as a Facebook project.

Of course, all those familiarized with science know it’s a long and winding road from concept to prototype. Yet, it is also only logical for a company as big as Facebook to either understate the magnitude of its progress, in order to (relatively) keep it under the wraps, or to overstate it, as part of trying to raise brand interest.

Whichever the case, the recent unveilings surely managed to create quite a buzz.

How close are we to this utopian future of communications?

By utopian, we mean close to SF depictions, as we also hinted above. It all points towards an image of people employing technology to a high degree, while dropping the current hardware and UI. Imagine talking on your phone, without having to get it out of your pocket or sending a message by using just your thoughts. And, apparently, thought-sharing is not language-conditioned, so this kind of communications would go beyond cultural barriers as we know them today.

The head of Facebook’s experimental technologies division is Mrs. Regina Dugan, who previously led DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) as its 19th Director. She left in 2012 for Google, where she created and lead the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. The ATAP generated Google’s Project Tango and Project Ara.

Now with the Building 8 research team, she hopes to reach the stage of having a brain sensor prototype ready within 18 months. This prototype should be able to type 100 words per minute, as instructed by human thought. Once marking this milestone, the company aims to mass-produce and sell the resulting sensor.