Exploring the Future with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are two hot topics which are trending in the world of technology, but there is more to it than what meets the eye. It could possibly redefine the way we ‘see’ and ‘touch’ things in the future, which is why, it has garnered so much attention in recent times and the trust of so many tech-giants, who are investing top dollars in developing this technology.
Let’s take a closer look at these technologies…
Augmented Reality (AR): It brings the virtual and real world together, with projected images that blend in with real world content. With AR, users can interact with virtual content in the real world and can easily distinguish between the two. It is like wearing a transparent mobile phone on your face, like the Microsoft Hololens for instance, making it open and partly immersive.
Virtual Reality (AR): It creates a virtual world that users can interact with – a world where users find it difficult to tell the difference from what is real and what is not. VR is usually achieved by wearing a console on your face like an Oculus VR, which makes it closed and fully immersive.
Both these technologies have carved out a niche for themselves. However, according to analysts, the AR market holds more potential and is much broader – similar to today’s smartphone and tablet markets. According to Digi-Capital, the AR market is projected to generate over $120 billion in revenue, compared to just $30 billion for the VR market, by 2020.
Investments in these technologies…
The AR and VR space is buzzing with activity, with nearly all leading technology companies placing their bets on it. Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. Google Glass has been there since early 2012 and has now gained a renewed enterprise focus. Microsoft, Sony, Toshiba and Samsung have also announced their own smart-glasses, among others. Magic Leap, a promising AR start up has investments coming in from nearly every major venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, including Google, who also announced that it would very soon be launching an SDK for enthusiasts.
On the application front, there’s potential for innovations, in both the consumer and enterprise world. VR proves to be great for games and 3D films with a truly immersive experience – attracting a growing apps/games ecosystem around early players like Unity, Valve, Razer and others. The role of AR can be pretty similar to that of a wearable mobile device allowing us to explore numerous possibilities. This makes it more flexible and opens up a host of application possibilities like voice calling, video streaming, commerce and enterprise specific apps and much more.
Let’s take a look at some AR use cases:
- Firefighters can use AR to find out things like ambient temperature and building layout, gauge potentially dangerous areas and thereby prioritize their rescue operations.
- In mining, it can be used for visualization of unseen structures, real-time observation and support, object identification, maintenance tasks, safety provision, and training.
- Manufacturing is another industry where it is efficiently deployed with the key focus areas being design, assembly, maintenance, repair and training.
- Retail is a very significant sector for AR adoption. AR serves as a new and innovative platform for the delivery of cutting edge customer experiences. It has been predicted that by 2017, 5 out of the 10 largest retailers will implement AR applications in an effort to improve customer experience. The applications spans across cases like providing in-depth contextual information and personalized offers on the go, in-store assistance for finding desired products, virtual trial rooms, interactive shopping windows and much more.
AR bridges the gap between the digital and physical world, bringing it in complete unison. The incorporated benefits are enhanced productivity, hands-on experience, simplified processes, easy information exchange, real-time data access, new ways to visualize problems and solutions, and enhanced collaboration.
While modularity and IT integration remains the key obstacles for businesses, the aesthetic factors like weight, size and fashion quotient are concerns that are common for both the enterprise and consumer worlds, for the adoption of these technologies. The key aspects that both VR and AR devices will have to nail to gain acceptance and reach their potential include mobility, vision, immersion, usability, flexibility, wearability and affordability. However, only time will tell how successful will these device makers be in addressing these issues and catering to the limitless possibilities for both the enterprise and consumer world. We are keeping a close watch on this space. Are you doing the same?
(Feature Image Courtesy: Ikea)
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