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The integration of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into the physical and industrial worlds is close at hand. There are real-life applications already in use in several sectors.
Going from science fiction to the real world at a rapid pace, AR and VR are already redefining our digital world.
VR is closely related to the idea of telepresence which “enables people to feel as if they are present in a different place or time” as well as to the notion of immersion — deep mental involvement. VR technologies will allow greater emotional intensity and provide a new layer of experience.
Technological advances in coding language have spurred the creation of a coding language called Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). This is used to create a wide range of 3D images and new functionalities. This coding language is the backbone of Virtual Reality.
The potential of virtual reality technology is being harnessed for more productive applications in the real and industrial worlds. Case studies have shown that VR technology can offer new opportunities for training, maintenance, and problem-solving scenarios without the physical event needing to take place.
Thanks to the constantly changing digital landscape, advertisers have been forced to get more and more creative with their advertisements, all while looking for the next great advertising idea. As such, VR has been one of the most discussed new consumer technologies over the last couple of years, especially as production costs have decreased.
Companies, for example, have shown how VR technology can be used to achieve a company’s goals. Using Google Cardboard technology, companies created a 360° experience allowing customers to remotely "visit" resorts in the world. The experience allows customers to see the destinations and the activities they have to offer, such as swimming with the dolphins and walking on cliffs.
The main goal of the campaign was to tempt people into planning their next trip with Virgin Holidays. As a result, sales of the trips showcased in the VR video rose significantly.
VR can also provide a great way for companies to showcase their products to customers without them stepping into a brick-and-mortar store. A great example of this is the IKEA Virtual Store, which gives customers an opportunity to explore IKEA household furniture departments at any time of the day. This enables customers to “walk” the store, browse, and even buy products — all without leaving their couch.
Several brands such as Samsung, Google, and Facebook already use VR to enhance engagement and improve the customer experience. Moreover, it’s estimated that VR will continue to disrupt business models in the future, becoming the next major platform shift in online shopping.
Farming is changing rapidly. The intersection of virtual reality, commercial autonomous flying vehicles, i.e., drones, and data-driven agriculture is creating exciting opportunities for software developers to support the growth of digital resources in agriculture.
Everybody knows that both too much rain and too much sun are equally harmful to crops. Weather forecasts help farmers understand what weather they should expect. But virtual reality can go one step further, simulating various weather conditions and their potential consequences on crops.
A real-life example of VR input in agriculture is the AGCO’s Jackson plant in the USA. There, assembly workers wear digital glasses that allow them to access instructions, pictures, and video to ensure the correct assembly of farming tractor components. This VR equipment, called Glass, has increased the plant's productivity.
In a not-so-far future, VR technology will not only be useful in the production of mechanized farming equipment but farmers themselves will also benefit from this new technology.
Technology is transforming the way we experience and buy cars. Dealerships have been changing in format, size, and concept for years, but now we can buy cars on our lunch breaks from city center retail stores or virtually test drive the latest models.
The London Audi City showroom in Green Park, for example, is the smallest Audi dealership in the UK. Interestingly, 50 percent of its customers in the first half of 2017 ordered vehicles at the store without a physical test drive, having "experienced" their future car in an entirely virtual environment.
Also, Volvo, a leading automobile brand manufacturer came up with its own version of virtual reality called the Volvo Reality, built on the virtual platform Google Cardboard. During the pre-release of the Volvo XC 90 Luxury SUV, the automobile maker ran a massive campaign for the model. In this campaign, users were immersed in a breathtaking mountain via VR technology.
The possibilities for VR applications are endless, and it’s just a matter of time before creating and ordering our virtual dream car over lunch and having it delivered to our doorstep is the norm. But the question remains: Will VR negate the need for physical showrooms completely?
AR is a technology that overlays information and virtual objects onto real-world scenes in real-time. Technically, AR modifies a real environment by adding digital information to create a hybrid real/digital experience.
Developers are churning out cool augmented reality apps every day, and this has given the technology a broader commercial appeal. Get ready to see the integration of augmented reality in the physical and industrial spaces:
Innovations in the aviation industry will be in the form of augmented reality technology. Using AR, real-time information in the form of text, images, and audio enhancements can be integrated with actual, physical objects.
The primary utility of AR in aviation is its ability to overlay relevant information on demand. Today’s AR systems, such as the Aero Glass, allow users to visualize terrain, air-traffic, instrument readings, weather, and airspace information in a 360-degree, 3D overlay that is easy to use.
Since 2011, Airbus has used AR applications on tablets to help technicians who are charged with inspecting brackets on Airbus A380 aircrafts. More recently, we've seen augmented reality being used by workers (not trainees) to reduce errors and increase efficiency. GE, for example, adopted Google’s Enterprise Glass to allow workers to see instructions or references while working on a part and also helping to document the work done.
AR will also continue to advance medicine.
Before the introduction of augmented reality into medicine, surgeons only had 2-dimensional anatomical images to review before or during surgery. AR has the potential to provide an overlay display with detailed information to surgeons without requiring them to step away from the patient.
We already struggle with a shortage of physicians all over the world. Training new physicians takes time, money, and other resources that aren't always practical or readily available. AR is already having a profound impact on medical training, with applications ranging from 3D visualizations to bring anatomical learning to life to helping train nurses to master techniques for checking vital signs. This could help speed up the process of creating new healthcare workers for underserved areas.
AR also has a key role to play in improving the quality of treatment, especially in surgery. For example, the Proximie app uses AR to allow surgical procedures to be carried out long-distance, with a specialist using AR tools to guide and collaborate with a colleague in real time.
When it comes to augmented reality and virtual reality application in all sphere of life, the potential benefits and possibilities are nearly endless. Thankfully, we’re already past the point of speculation and entering a phase where practical uses are being utilized to save both lives and money.
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