Can We Get Some Real People in Here Please?

October 16, 2020

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When people talk about Augmented Reality (AR) technology, the focus usually happens on the side of the technology, where real world spaces are enhanced by information that is generated digitally.

This is where AR distinguishes itself from other XR technologies. Rather than the focus on creating new and alternate realities — which can be the case with many virtual reality (VR) applications, AR simply looks to enhance experiences.

In the case of OVR, we seek to bridge the gaps between physical and digital, ensuring that even when forced to connect with other people digitally or remotely, the benefits of physical interaction are not lost. Or in some cases, providing new possibilities for those who are unable to enjoy the full experiences in a physical world.


Does virtual make us less human?

With the proliferation of virtual reality applications, particularly in the mass adopted sector of gaming, VR and other XR tech have really improved digital experiences for people: giving sight, sound and other senses what is seemingly a more realistic feel. Or rather, bringing realism to what are otherwise artificial environments.

Today, we can practise driving vehicles and even aircraft with car simulators and flight simulators. We can even immerse ourselves in imaginary worlds where we can be soldiers fighting battles, or explorers finding new worlds. We don’t even need to go to concerts and parties anymore… Many kids these days have experienced their first virtual concerts on Fortnite or Roblox, donning cartoon costumes and avatars, being whoever they want to be, looking and sounding like anything they want.

In the classroom environment, for example, VR technologies have proven to create interest in learning, providing rich visualizations that wouldn’t have been possible in reality, and adds layers of fun and enjoyment to activities that students may otherwise have found “boring”.

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But studies have also shown that spending more time in virtual environments and alternative, artificial realities, can also have some drawbacks. Because users only interact with software, VR can deteriorate human interaction. In the classroom, for example, this could even reach a point where actual relationships with fellow students and teachers suffer.

Addiction is also a concern for some societies, where users even prefer to spend time in their alternate realities, unwilling to return to their actual lives which they deem to be more boring and less exciting. So they create realities online, living them, ignoring their actual well-being in the physical world. Research from the National Academy of Sciences confirms that virtual reality addiction highly correlates with health issues like obesity, insomnia, increased aggression, and addiction in children and adults.


Making digital experiences more, not less, human

What’s really important to distinguish AR among the range of extended reality (XR) technologies is that AR seeks to augment the user experience with more interaction, always using existing human perceptions and senses. This means not only visually (what you can see) but also auditory (what you can hear), haptic (what you can touch and experience as a feeling of motion and movement), somatosensory (what you can feel anywhere in the body as pressure, pain and warmth) as well as olfactory (what you can smell).

Of course, to take full advantage of all these AR features, specialized devices are typically needed and because of the limitations of consumer devices now, most AR technology or applications that you can find for a smartphone or tablet now focus mainly on the visual and auditory aspects — although there are more advancements these days that will slowly mean many of these things will soon be available even on a typical smartphone!

With OVR, we believe that technology shouldn’t take away from the very things that make us human. Which is why we believe and fully buy-in into the core AR principles that augment our realities and experiences. With every new feature we are building for the OVR app and with every new update, we want to augment existing human realities and people connections, making them more human for users, not less.

For example, instead of merely providing layers of content to interact with, OVR Live also makes full use of AR technology to allow users to make highly-personalized and fully customized Avatars — so that you look like you, and sound like you. When entering OVR app and interacting with others, it’s very possible to actually see and hear your friends, classmates, family and colleagues, just as you would in real life.

It’s an increasingly pertinent use case, especially these days when much of our daily activities are conducted remotely with the ongoing global pandemic. We now have to attend conferences online, hold meetings and classes online, even attend concerts online.

But with OVR, it’s not anymore necessary to just jump into a virtual world with cartoons and monikers — you can walk up to, interact with, even dance with people you know from real life, but in a digital environment.

So the next time you want to get together with people and experience digital humanity, even in a remote-living life, you know that with OVR, you can still get the best out of laughing, talking and sharing conversations with each other — just like in real life!