The Gift of Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality
The stars seemed to have aligned to make now the right time to really dig in to virtual, augmented, or mixed reality. It is a wild time, and nothing seems more appropriate than diving into an improved way of life. With the #newnormal well underway, VR, AR & MR have received a heightened importance in the day to day.
A Condensed Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Recap
VR fully immerses a user into a new world. This is putting on a headset and suddenly being at the top of the Eiffel Tower, for example. Alternately, AR adds something on top of what is really there, like hypothetically turning a lawyer into a cat. MR is a combination of both and can be used for a range of different applications. An interesting example is over the shoulder training. People can dial-in for a hands-on experience of an actual event like surgery but be safely out of the way. All of these technologies leverage high-speed cameras and computers to put the user in an experience they couldn’t have otherwise.
The dream was invented in 1957 by Morton Heilig. He created the Sensorama, which delivered an enhanced experience through sight, sound and smell by applying new data on top of what the user had in front of them. The applications were not fruitful, and the existing technology could not fully support the idea, so it did not get very far. Over time the technology was improved and used for very niche purposes such as military simulations. It was only in the early 1990s that the technology became more accessible to the general population, with an emphasis on more. The 90s were a long way away from selfie filters and Pokemon Go. VR experienced a massive re-birth when Facebook purchased a small start-up, Oculus, and the rest is an augmented history.
The world moves faster, and the products now exist to accommodate. Thanks to high-speed internet, flawless cameras and powerful software processing, everyone has a touch of fake reality in their pockets (in their smartphone…specifically). Turns out, that would prove to be incredibly useful through a global pandemic! With the world’s population on strict orders to socially distance themselves from everyone and everything, having virtual means of connecting brought a new level of importance.
VR/AR/MR tools have been instrumental in getting people back “in” the office and keeping businesses afloat. Connecting with systems, co-workers, and customers has its share of challenges, but moving it offsite is next level. To be able to virtually put yourself in an office setting with a group of people can make all the difference in getting things done. Additionally, if you can use AR tools to point, draw and map out what is needed, the work can be resolved in the time it would have taken to be explained over the phone.
But it’s not all work and no play. The gaming world has exploded with VR/AR/MR options. While it is still a luxury, Oculus has made owning a VR headset more common than ever before. AR fueled games really took off with Pokémon Go and unlike VR, they are everywhere now. At first these began as cool now toys but throughout 2020 and well into 2021 they actually became the tools to connect people of all ages when they could not be together.
Many companies are now on the bandwagon and taking the technology to heights it has never seen. The quality of the experience makes it a truly immersive experience but it is still improving. Companies are putting more skin in the game and the industry is only growing. In 2021, the industry market size is calculated at 4.8 billion dollars. The estimated growth is anticipated to be almost triple by 2024. With the accessibility and improvements in connectivity and the growing options in hardware, VR/AR/MR is here to stay in the mainstream. Experts have pointed out that when the smartphone was created, no one understood what the potential was. At first apps were only used to play with a talking cat (the internet is full of cats). Today, a smartphone has essentially become a home office. To say what is coming next is near impossible but the potential is limitless.
To learn more about VR/AR/MR testing, please contact Averna.
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