Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been on the radar for some time now. In fact, it is thought that the idea for VR originated as far back as the 1950s. So why isn’t it already in every home? It’s all to do with the hype. Each time it looks like it’s going to go viral, the technology falls short of the hype and consumers get cold feet. But, with new technologies paving the way for VR and AR to go mainstream, it seems like now might finally be the time when they really take off.
With products such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive tapping into the consumer market with affordable headsets, it seems as though the VR revolution is already underway. But it’s not just the video game industry that can benefit from the updates in this technology. There are many more ways in which we can embrace the benefits of VR and AR.
The education industry sees VR and AR as a huge potential asset. From taking groups of students on e-trips to places all around the globe to virtual reality classrooms, there are plenty of ways in which this technology can help advance educational organisations. Virtual reality classrooms may not sound groundbreaking, but they will change the way in which we learn. Teachers can provide photorealistic images of what they are trying to teach to give their students a better idea of what they are trying to explain. Additionally, by removing the requirement for physical space, schools can focus their budgets on the quality of teaching and education instead.
Direct experience is a great way for new employees to learn the ropes. In some instances, however, this isn’t always possible, so providing a simulated environment for employees in which to train is an ideal alternative. Samsung currently uses virtual reality to train sales teams in how to deal with customers, while firefighters in the UK are trained with Oculus Rift headsets to give them the experience of dangerous environments. This type of application also leads well into recruitment, as it enables potential employees to experience the job and demonstrate their capabilities before officially taking on the role.
With the rise of flexible working, VR can be a great alternative to actually attending the office for meetings, or for transporting your desk to any kind of tranquil setting such as the beach. It also provides employees with the opportunity to attend conferences all over the world, without the associated travel costs and lost time spent travelling.
Social media changed the way we socialise, but VR and AR are ready to take that change one step further. Networks such as AltspaceVR, Rec Room, Bigscreen and vTime provide VR social communities to those seeking multiplayer games, new friends or an online hangout for their social circle. One minute you could be chatting with strangers as you orbit the moon, the next you would be playing games against people from all around the world. At the moment the avatar technology is still in its early stages, but with time this technology could create a world so real it would be difficult to distinguish it from reality.
One thing that VR and AR are having the biggest impact on is the future of video games. Providing players with an immersive and integrated experience like no other, VR headsets and AR apps are big news in the gaming industry and big money is being spent on advancing the technology. With Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook and Google all taking on the challenge of creating affordable headsets, the industry will continue to see an increase in investment until VR is in every home. Gamers only need to see the success of the AR Pokémon GO app and Snapchat to see the impact that this type of technology is already having on our day to day lives.
VR has far-reaching implications for the healthcare industry. From VR diagnostics to virtual robotic surgery, VR is a great way to overcome challenges faced by healthcare professionals. Staff can learn new skills in a safe environment, while surgeons can employ the benefits of using robots to perform difficult surgical procedures to minimise the risk of human error and complications.
There are many ways in which VR and AR can enhance our day to day lives and improve our existing technologies. So, isn’t it time you embraced the future?