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How makers can use AR and VR

Arduino TeamJune 14th, 2024

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are both currently experiencing a meteoric rise in popularity, with the combined market expected to reach $77 billion by 2025, from just $15.3 billion in 2020.

For makers, AR and VR represent exciting opportunities to build new types of projects, tapping into entirely new possibilities and learning skills that will only become more valuable as time goes on. 

We’ll explore the significance of AR and VR for makers and look at some of the ways in which makers can integrate these technologies into their projects, rounding off with some real-world examples. 

AR and VR — what’s the difference?

AR and VR are similar technologies, but they’re crucially different. Let’s take a quick look at what sets them apart.

  • Augmented reality involves overlaying digital elements onto the physical world, allowing us to observe and even interact with these virtual objects in the context of our actual environments.
  • Virtual veality is much more immersive — typically you will put on a headset and enter a completely virtual world, totally different from your actual physical environment.

How can makers use AR and VR in their projects?

Let’s take a look at some of the specific ways makers can leverage AR and VR to improve their projects, along with some examples from Arduino users.

Gaming and fun

AR and VR are both making a massive impact in the world of gaming, allowing for far more immersive, novel, and fun experiences. This represents a great opportunity for makers to play around with an entirely new trend, playing a small role in shaping this next chapter of video gaming.

Probably the best example of this is Pokémon GO — where players track down Pokémon in real-world locations. But this is just the beginning. Ryan Chan decided to design a way for Minecraft — the best-selling video game of all time — to start using AR.

Thanks to Chan’s work, Minecraft players can now control their in-game movements via their real-life actions. For example, taking physical steps forward will translate into in-game movement. Ryan’s project uses an Arduino MKR Zero board, a MPU-6050 IMU (inertial measurement unit), and two force-sensitive resistors.

It’s an awesome approach to bringing a fresh set of features to an already established and popular game, and could mark a new generation of smart individual gamers making adjustments to their favorite games.

Training safety, and education

Developing new skills is essential if you want to keep making progress as a maker, but it can be tricky. After all, making is a highly technical and complex activity with no real rules.

The good news is that AR and VR can be massively helpful here. AR can help make learning more interactive, intuitive, and visual by overlaying instructions and visual augmentations onto real-world objects. VR, meanwhile, can help by constructing immersive virtual environments where makers can practice technical tasks in a risk-free setting.

Let’s check out an example. Kids typically don’t take fire drills too seriously, which means they miss out on important information. This is where AR can come in. This project from a team of engineers at Sejong University created an augmented reality fire drill system based on video games to make fire safety training more realistic and effective.

By combining virtual reality, AR, and the real world, you can conduct fire drills that simulate smoke-filled rooms and other realistic elements, mimicking the actual experience of a fire much more than standard drills.

On top of that, the team also made a fire extinguisher that works with the VR system but also looks and feels like the real thing. It connects to an Arduino UNO WiFi Rev2 and can give users the realistic sensation of operating a real extinguisher to put out flames.

Data visualization and analytics

It’s important for makers to be able to gain and analyze data related to their projects. This might be a central part of the project’s function — like with a wearable health monitor or a thermostat — or it may just be a way to learn more about your creation to make improvements.

AR and VR can massively improve your ability to interact with and understand data. By representing data in an entirely new, much more immersive, and more visual way, these technologies can allow you to spot new insights, make connections, and learn more about your projects.

Mars Kapadia chose to build his own set of smart glasses for a school science fair, using a transparent OLED display paired with Retro Watch software running on an Android phone and powered by an Arduino Nano Every and an HC-05 Bluetooth® module.

Mars’ glasses also come with darkened lenses to keep the glare of the sun at bay when outdoors, which can also be lifted up when in darker environments.

Get started today

With Arduino, you can start bringing AR and VR into your own projects, expanding your horizons and opening up fascinating new possibilities to use this tech as it continues to grow.

In our Project Hub, you can browse other people’s projects according to category, including AR and VR, and share your own work, too.