In 2016, a mobile game called Pokemon Go was spreading like wildfire across the world and sold the idea and technology of Augmented Reality (AR) to the public. Recently in 2018, renowned filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi movie, Ready Player One explored the world of Virtual Reality (VR) and the countless possibilities it has to offer. It almost seems as if mankind is trying to break the walls between the real and the ‘virtually real’ for some time now.
Simply put AR and VR changes the way we communicate. Watching a movie or playing a game is no longer a couch activity. You become a part of what you experience. Entertainment purposes aside, how about trying to determine the nutritional content of a certain cookie? Simply hold a device (typically mobile phone) over the cookie and its nutritional information appears on the screen. Disabled in movement but have a penchant for travelling? Put on a VR headset, and zap!You’re on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro; without leaving the convenience of your home. As mentioned earlier, ‘countless’ possibilities.
Influencing the business world
In the name of training and education, the manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors are just some of the industrial environments in which AR and VR technologies are being utilised. Those working in engineering, for one example, can use AR for improved working on the job – based on the principle that the human mind processes technical information presented in a 3D format faster and more efficiently than having to translate it from a 2D perspective – while VR is becoming a mainstay of many training programmes for future A&E doctors, helping prepare practitioners for surgery using virtual systems, before having to undertake the real-life version. With all these in mind, it is no wonder that the VR and AR market is speculated to hit $170 billion by 2022, with suitors working competitively to increase their stakes in the AR-VR development.
In the retail sector, e-commerce giant Amazon is pursuing Augmented Reality technology to fuel a new focus on auto parts, on top of the digital giant’s prior use of AR tech to allow customers to project renderings of furniture and electronics into their homes to help weigh up their size and fit. In manufacturing, Boeing is a key example of the business applications of Google Glass, with the firm using it to boost the wire assembly process of its 78-7 Freighter In healthcare, MindMaze, a Swiss neurogaming company has developed a virtual environment neurorehabilitation system called MindMotion which supports early motor rehabilitation and improve the recovery potential of patients who have just undergone surgery or been under acute care. MindMotion is currently in use across 30 hospitals in Europe.
Few years back, the world would have been cynical if someone was told that a technology whose development roots were primarily gaming would be introducing radical changes in manufacturing processes or healthcare. Seems that humans aren’t the only ones evolving, technology has evolved too.