We are constantly being surrounded by screens and there is no running away from the fact. With the innovation of smartphones more than a decade ago, it has become a part and parcel of our lives. Now, it is the medium through which we work, travel, communicate, purchase and do a lot more things. It is hard to find a household in today's world that does not own smartphones along with one or more tablets or desktops.
The world of screens has enabled us to immerse ourselves in a virtual world forgetting all about the real world around us. But you might be surprised to know that both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are in use for more than 30 years from now.
They were primarily used in the military aircraft in the Pilot Head-Mounted Displays, flight simulations and also for army training. It was only later they were introduced into the gaming and entertainment industry. Higher costs of development and rising complexities in AR/VR devices had so far obstructed their entry into the commercial industry.
Most business investors believe that AR/VR requires widespread adoption from the audiences, only then it could be counted in the mainstream in the coming five years.
Prominence of AR applications to consumers
AR applications were almost unthinkable until Pokémon Go entered the gaming space in 2016. It successfully marked mass consumer adoption of augmented reality. In the long run, several social media networking platforms have come about making use of AR in rather entertaining ways. Even Lenskart has developed its app in such a way that one can try on every frame they like in a virtual room using their picture (from left to right and vice versa). This helps in better selection.
Prominence of VR applications to consumers
On the other hand, Virtual reality (VR) is commonly available to the consumers in the form of smartphones, coupled with headsets. In fact, they are quite advanced in comparison to the augmented reality market. The use of high-end software tools and implements creates an immersive experience. The addition of more technological advancements in the field like Oculus Rift united with 360 cameras, HTC Vive is creating space for newer possibilities. VR is making its prominence felt almost in every industry.
None of the existing systems are indeed able to offer a complete immersive experience. Most have limited display resolution, lacks natural flow, 3D sensing capabilities, wide FOV (field of view), etc. it might take more three to five years before we are handed that unrestrained AR/VR experience. AR lacks standardization, has its own limitations technologically and is pricey. Irrespective of that it has been adopted in logistics, healthcare and manufacturing industries. They are delivered through the use of headphones and typically indicate that they are to transform the commercial as well as industrial market space. However, several advances are still necessary.
A number of AR/VR devices are available in the market. These include smartphones, tablets, headsets, consoles and different wearables. Each of them provides a different level of immersive experience but definitely with certain limitations. The use of headsets tends to be unlikely due to its bulky size which makes prolonged use uncomfortable. Additionally, smartphones fail to offer immersive content due to the lack of visual quality at times.
The future to come
With the combination of artificial intelligence, AR and VR the digital space is all set to transform our lives. Its implications will touch upon every sector from real estate to medical and education, etc. The devices developed in the future might come along with accessible, tailor-made experiences. There might be several changes in designs as well. A survey reveals that the market is yet not ready with a masterplan. The developer community agree to remain flexible to adapt to market changes.
Many believe that AR and VR might come in two forms soon. This is standalone units and tethered systems. The standalone with all other systems from display to processing is available as wearables, whereas the tethered systems might be a unit or a wearable for the head. A wire is generally attached to the processing unit.
Organizations that adopt AR/VR environments would certainly not have to worry about competition. They would naturally be ahead in the race. Leaders can hire their employees from anywhere on Earth without having to call them physically. They would also be able to take their organization in the greater world. It may help to redesign one's corporate space every month and throw up corporate meetings without having to worry about physical office setup and related issues.
The near future might give us the chance to participate in the virtual world both as a creator and participant. It might allow us to exchange dialogues with a virtual character in a virtual and digitally overlayed environment. Our kids might enjoy growing up with immersive storytelling and interactive film-watching experience. And you never know a day might come when we might be able to project home theatres within our living space and zoom in to place ourselves within the virtual space!