Wearing a VR headset is not something that only gamers do. Virtual or augmented reality experiences are showing up in places other than labs and gaming centres, defining new ways of working and communicating across an enterprise.
Will user interfaces go beyond pinching, panning, tapping and swiping the screen? Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are personalizing user experience, and before long air gestures could become an acceptable norm (Or it might go the way to the Google Glass).
For example, imagine visiting a restaurant and recommendations based on your preferences jump off the menu even before you order. Digital experiences like this are not a thing of the distant future but are already happening around us. AR and VR are radically redefining the 'natural way' of interacting with objects and places, bringing the future to us ahead of the Minority Report schedule.
The first of the use cases have been in Gaming. Whether its Minecraft on Microsoft Halo or PlayStation VR, the early adoption has been in gaming and social media. But things are getting serious. We are seeing cross functional adoption of AR and VR in a variety of industries and use cases. In this blog, we explore the "serious" applications of these technologies.
Technological advancements with the ability to fully immerse a person in a stimulating environment are fundamentally changing the way in which patients are being diagnosed and treated.
Mixing the real and digital worlds with computer-generated content makes existing healthcare processes more efficient and effective. It supports doctors and physicians to engage in procedures that are otherwise challenging safely. For example, a traumatized person can be safely exposed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) triggers, desensitizing under the supervision of a counselor.
By combining cognitive sciences and immersive technology, AR and VR are making a difference in many cases including, performing surgeries, treatment of Neuropathy, mental disorders (OCD, eating disorders, and schizophrenia), improving motor impairment and reducing pain.
Furthermore, the expertise of a doctor coupled with the capabilities of these technologies, make training more accessible. Simulated operations offer the opportunity for practice, letting future surgeons, therapists, or physicians gain direct experience.
From innovative clinical and therapeutic practices to providing real-time data assistance during surgical procedures, we have only begun to scratch the surface of mixed reality's potential in healthcare.
If you are wondering what can AR and VR do in an industrial environment? The possibilities are many. Where Google Glass has been buried six feet under in the consumer arena, smart glasses for augmented reality is making inroads into the industrial sector with users benefiting from context-sensitive information when they need it.
Currently being used across different sectors, it needs to be seen how these technologies become mainstream in future. Here are a few examples of its applications:
Designing and Development: computer simulation and virtual prototypes are replacing physical mock-ups. Digital content overlaid onto the real-world environment is giving a sense of proportion and scale that simply cannot be matched when rendering on a desktop monitor. Also, designers, engineers, and manufacturers can work on the same project simultaneously.
Training: this method of training gives hands-on, interactive experience with a product. An organization's workforce can access contextual documentation and resources in context-specific situations and get on-the-spot training or step-by-step task guidance. Thereby, shortening the learning curve for both on-site and off-site staff.
Troubleshooting: while tackling a problem, projecting a virtual image onto the specific area combined with animation will show the exact steps for making the fix. Whether it is confirming the order of inspection or inspecting the actual plant, AR and VR systems give hands-free access to technical information.
Maintenance: Having the ability to see a machine's status by looking at it through an AR display is incredibly powerful and is being used for more than just error detection. It is being used to maintain equipment, inventory, and more. For example, while checking a vehicle, visual overlay shows which components are faulty and have to be replaced. It also walks the user through the steps required to make the change.
Optimization of transport: these technologies can quicken the transport process by identifying the right package and determining its route and destination. An AR device can also project package information such as the type of good, whether it's fragile and other details. While transporting the package, the device has the capability to also display the directions in the real-world environment, for example, on the windshield.
From inventory management to employee training, the immersive future of manufacturing is playing a productive role in the entire global supply chain.
Education and Learning
Blurring the boundary of what is real and unreal, virtual reality is making inroads into education facilitating experiential learning by simulating real-world environments. Students can virtually travel to the great barrier reef or inside a human body with the ability to look around freely. The sense of presence and immersion added by the new technologies makes these educational experiences more effective.
Incorporating VR or AR into educational experiences are making classes more transformational. Scanning photos of objects or places give extra information such as origin, historical events or visual models. This offers immediate engagement and provides the opportunity for learners to "feel" the experiences. Using these technologies, teachers can easily explain abstract concepts that are hard to visualized, helping students better understand the lesson topic.
Marketing and Communications
Adding new dimensions, marketers are presenting brands in real-time with malleable size, scale, and context, ensuring mind-blowing results. They are capturing people's imagination, creating empathy and establishing a connection. Ranging from apps that show how furniture looks in a customer's home to games such as Pokémon Go, virtual reality in marketing has become a new art. AR and VR advertisements have a "wow" factor, leaving consumers with memorable experiences that are talked about as much as the product itself.
Another exciting trend is the use of machine learning in various aspects of marketing. Marketers are using campaign management tools to analyze purchase decisions, consumer behaviors and optimize campaigns. Blending traditional forms of advertising such as print, outdoor, and POS with augmented reality will bring about the synergy of a brand's voice turning one channel into many.
Gartner predicts by 2019, AR, VR and mixed reality (MR) solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20% of large-enterprise businesses.
It is certain that these technologies are not merely a passing trend, with different companies creating their version of equipment and software, the "reality" technology will soon become mainstream, changing the way we design and experience content.
At HARMAN, we deliver AR solutions around image selection and tagging, based on underlying Vuforia and Microsoft AR platform. Aimed at driving differentiated user experiences, our augmented reality solution, the Georgia Aquarium app allows users to experience the aquarium in their palms. This app is equipped with the capability to detect/identify up to 50 animal classes with accuracy about 90%. Also, as Microsoft's Mixed Reality Partner we have the capability to collaborate and build enterprise commercial mixed reality solutions to improve communications, streamline operations, drive worker productivity, and create amazing customer experiences.
Blending physical and digital interactions, a new class of products can be made available. Let us help you explore and develop virtual and augmented reality experiences for your business; please feel free to talk to us.