There are some new trends in the technology world that are becoming very prominent. These trends include technologies that are trying to change the way we look at the content. Content presentation is not only getting enhanced by using rich media and social but also by the way that can be consumed. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are some of the new ways of consuming and interacting with the digital content.
The prominent “promise” of virtual reality is broad. The technology is not only poised to transform our lifestyle and the way we consume entertainment content, but also how we work. Incorporating virtual reality into business could mean direct or indirect increase in digital productivity. If we look from a product development perspective, concepts and options can be accurately reviewed, adjusted and modified easily and quickly. Digital models can be virtually tested, examined and simulated with tools like computational fluid dynamics (CFD), finite elements analysis (FEA). The outcome is quick iterative design cycles, and eventually great products.
While VR is about creating a virtual multidimensional space, the AR technology brings extra dimensions in the real world space. The concept of AR is also broad (in fact broader than VR). Essentially, it includes any way of adding digital content in the context of real-time/live world. The concept is not new but there are a lot of innovative ways of implementation and delivery. A simple and old example of AR is live scores and statistics in a live sports transmission on TV. We are able to see the extra dimension of stats and digital data of a live happening event.
Now imagine that happening not only for the televised event but also for the rest of the world, which your eyes are seeing including people, buildings, objects, sky, and many more objects around (the possibilities are endless). While looking at a street you are presented with the details about the buildings you see; while looking at the people you are reading/consuming their profile details, while looking in the sky you can see the names of stars or see the structure and details of constellations. All of these are examples of the ways to present and consume digital content/information in a live context.
VR is coming up as an exciting trend impacting many high-tech industries, and is driving big vendors to launch a myriad of related devices and rich, immersive experiences. CCS Insight predicts that sales of virtual and augmented reality devices are expected to reach 24 million by 2018 from 2.5 million in 2015. A Digi-Capital report forecasts that the AR market is estimated to generate a revenue of $120 billion, compared to only $30 billion for the VR market.
The early adopters of VR are video game players, with Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR attempting to forge a new frontier in video games; while AR is hot on its heel with wearable interfaces as Microsoft HoloLens and Google Glass. And, recently Samsung has been granted a patent for smart lenses with a display that projects images directly into wearer’s eyes, according to the Samsung-focused blog.
As these new technologies advance, more and more applications are surfacing. One of the substantial growth areas of AR and VR can be seen in health technology with wearable devices. Another example is the automotive industry; Ford is currently using virtual reality in its Immersion Lab to get a sense of how customers experience its cars. In the travel industry, Marriott Hotels is offering a teleporter which enables users to take off on virtual journeys with an Oculus Rift headset.
Fashion industry is no exception; Dior has used VR at its boutiques to allow people to look at ‘behind the scenes’ at fashion shows. Likewise, VR applications bring immense possibilities in other sectors including education, advertising, and entertainment, among others.
Similarly, AR is making its way into big industries like space travel. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is implementing HoloLens along with the Curiosity rover to walk the surface of Mars. And Google Glass is catching the eye of the automotive industry — companies like General Motors are using the device to train employees on the factory floor in real-time during difficult projects, facilitating them to see the right technique in the glass as they execute the task, and communicate with other employees in back office to address things like parts shortage issues. The technology has fulfilled its promise to take people into bizarre experiences, which they couldn’t have thought of before. But these two technologies also introduce practical concerns that could outcome in consumers’ pause.
The AR and VR devices share many common privacy, regulatory and compliance concerns, and thus need to be tracked, managed, and hardened to control access to underlying data and applications. High-definition 3D renderings, detailed tracking of objects and controls, and connected sensors and devices, all need right protection through encryption and access controls to rights and asset management.
One of the other probable adversaries of these disruptive technologies is latency. And so the challenge for headset makers is how to represent a virtual world without causing motion sickness for the user. Augmented reality needs to get to a level, that when a user moves his eyes, head, and body in the real world, motion in the virtual world becomes alike. The cost of devices could be another aspect of how fast the market takes off.
It is predicted that by the end of 2016, there will probably be “a whole slew of content” for 360 videos in a variety of different businesses, but time will tell how fast consumers will embrace AR/VR as a part of their daily lives.
With giant tech companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and HTC, investing in this technology, and releasing their virtual reality devices, it is definitely not dismissible as a come-and-go fad.
Companies are seeing augmented reality and virtual reality as indispensable parts of their business, and are outlaying billions of dollars to claim their stake in the game. This innovative technologies market is certainly emerging as a force to be reckoned with.