Immerse yourself in these virtual and augmented apps and games

If you already have a PlayStation 4 console, try playing Astro Bot Rescue Mission. PHOTO: SONY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT
A simple but fun AR app to try is Just a Line. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Raring to explore the new possibilities enabled by immersive media such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)?

Consider trying AR first, as it requires only a compatible Android smartphone (most models from the past two to three years should work fine) or an Apple smartphone (with A9 chip and above).

A simple but fun AR app to try is Just a Line (free for Android and iOS). Draw on your smartphone screen to create an AR layer over the physical world before capturing the result as a video. Pair your phone with a friend's phone to collaborate and draw in a shared space.

Because it can superimpose virtual 3-D objects over the real world, AR is used by furniture retailers Ikea and Castlery to give customers a glimpse of how a piece of furniture will appear in their homes. Try Ikea Place (free for Android and iOS) and Castlery (free for iOS).

Museums, too, have been experimenting with AR to enhance their exhibits. BBC's Civilisations AR app (free for Android and iOS) lets you explore over 30 historic artefacts, including an Egyptian mummy and iconic sculptures from museums in the United Kingdom.

Given the ongoing pandemic, it may be easier and safer to take virtual tours or explore AR objects through your smartphone. The Google Expeditions app (free for Android and iOS) comes with over 100 AR expeditions and over 900 VR tours. Teachers can also create their own immersive tours or guide their students on a virtual expedition.

Game to invest in a VR headset? If you already have a PlayStation 4 console, it makes sense to get the PlayStation VR ($449), which has a library of over 100 titles. For games to start, we recommend Astro Bot Rescue Mission ($27.90), a cute and fun platformer, and rhythm game Beat Saber ($44.20).

While PC users get to choose from a variety of VR headsets at a range of prices from the likes of HTC, Oculus and Valve, many of these headsets are currently unavailable here or out of stock.

But if you do manage to get your hands on a headset (and have a capable computer), the must-have games include VR shooter Half-Life: Alyx ($36.75) and physics-based action game Boneworks ($20.80). For non-gamers, Google Earth VR (free) lets you zoom across the world in a heartbeat while you can paint in 3-D using the controller in Tilt Brush ($20).

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