There’s a lot of buzz these days around augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). While the latter has cooled down a little, many people believe that the former is going to be a key technology in the future. While a lot of buzz around both AR and VR begins with gaming, there’s a lot more that can be done in areas such as education, real estate, health, tourism, and so on.
First though, it’s important to know what the terms AR and VR represent. The difference between the two is simple – in VR, you wear a headset and “enter” a virtual world. You don’t see elements from the real world, just the computer generated space you’re in. With AR, you bring the digital into the real world, combining one with the other. So an app that lets you select furniture, and then place it in your living room to see what it looks like in your house, for example, is augmented reality, while an app that provides a 3D model of a house that you can look around in to see what the building looks like is an example of a virtual reality application. One of the problems with VR is that you need some kind of headset – at least a basic Google Cardboard headset. AR experiences typically work right off your phone, or sometimes, off your computer, though more advanced ones may require specialised equipment like glasses.
Here’s a non-comprehensive list of Indian companies that offer AR experiences to customers. We’ve tried these out to make sure they work well.
The company was one of the early entrants into the AR space, but it’s continued to evolve its offering, and when we tested it while researching this article, we were really impressed by how powerful the experience is, and how easy the guided setup was. The Lenskart app and website both support the ‘3D Try On’ feature. How it works is simple – give Lenskart access to your camera, and it’ll show you what a frame looks like on your face.
That’s pretty basic, but what Lenskart does is records your face from multiple angles – there’s a short setup required where you follow onscreen prompts to look left and right, letting it map your face – and then when you “try” on a frame, you can swipe on the image to turn your head to the left and right as well, to get a view of the glasses from different angles. The frames are aligned impeccably, and the experience was pretty smooth and powerful in our experience.
Lenskart on the Web | on Android | on iOS
Like Lenskart, CaratLane also lets you try on its products when shopping. Unfortunately, it won’t work on your computer and it doesn’t work directly from the CaratLane app either. In addition to the CaratLane app, you need to install the Virtual Try On (VTO) app from CaratLane onto your phone to see your virtual self.
Using the VTO app is pretty straightforward but for first time, you’ll need to set it up. Frame your face in the camera view, turn left and right, and then place the markers for where earrings go in, and you’re good to go. Look for things in the CaratLane app, and once you find something you like, you can see it modelled against your face. Getting started is a little cumbersome compared to the same setup on the Lenskart app, but otherwise the overall experience was good, and the placement of the products works really well, so you can get a good sense of what it’s like before you spend any money.