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article imageOp-Ed: Apple CEO Tim Cook praises augmented reality over virtual reality

By Jack Derricourt     Sep 15, 2016 in Technology
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke of the superior potential of augmented reality over virtual reality in an interview with Good Morning America on Wednesday.
With both technologies developing rapidly — and Apple dedicating significant resources to both of them — observers and investors alike are intrigued by whether one or the other will win out. According to Cook, the real-world potential for augmented reality makes it the better option.
My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see," Cook said. "Maybe it's something we're talking about, maybe it's someone else here that is not here, present, but could be made to appear to be present with us. So there's a lot of really cool things there.
He makes a valid point. While virtual reality seeks to superimpose an environment over our own, creating a mapped space for us to create and work within, AR could provide a tool for sharing information within the normal world. In this sense, virtual reality is the more antisocial of the two, while augmented reality becomes a facilitator of the overall social nature of the new digital world.
It should be mentioned that Apple has a big stake in the success of augmented reality — though not necessarily in AR over VR as they have invested in both. The company has wedged itself comfortably within the developing industries of the Internet of things and ambient technologies.
The Apple HomeKit was rolled out proudly at the Apple product launch this month, and the interactions of home appliances, mobile devices and augmented reality components seems like a no-brainer. The HomeKit allows users who purchase appliances and home components like lights, locks, fans, etc. that are supported by HomeKit (no 'Works with Apple HomeKit' sticker, no network integration) to control all of these items via the Home app on their iOS device. Coordinating the controls of Apple HomeKit, communicating with people who wish to access your home, or even just embedding entertainment into the network of the home could allow augmented reality to become a big part of this burgeoning consumer world.
As Cook pointed out, virtual reality is already a dominant technology in the realms of gaming and entertainment — but not much else. Studios and game developers are jumping all over Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, as platforms for entertainment. As a recent report from China (one of the fastest-growing markets for VR) shows, 95 percent of VR content in China comes from gaming and entertainment, while only five percent comes from industry applications. And while the latter is expected to grow, for now the headset-heavy industry remains slanted towards games and media.
Social media also adds weight to Cook's argument. The world is full of people using social media platforms for work and play, sharing and coordinating their ideas using digital tools. Augmented reality could act as an expansion of this kind of interaction, an expansion of these behaviours into the real world. Humanity loves to shares its experiences and ideas, and a new platform that would allow those pieces of shareable information to take shape in the real world could be a boon to its developers. You only have to look at the success and social nature of Pokemon Go, which used GPS technology to incorporate real world locations into the game’s mechanics, to see how augmented reality applications could catch on like wildfire, just like social media.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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