Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Profitable technological opportunities for business and life
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
Virtual reality is a three-dimensional interaction environment generated by computer simulation in which the user can interact with particular objects, fully or partially immersing in it.
Properties of virtual reality
Full-fledged virtual reality is rare for some reason, but the incomplete option can be met in almost any specialized application, game, or platform.
Verisimilar – supports the user with a sense of what is happening.
Interactive – provides interaction with the virtual environment.
Computer-generated – based on powerful hardware.
Environment for learning – provides an opportunity to explore a massive, detailed world.
With presence effect – involves in the process both the brain and body of user, affecting as many senses as possible.
Types of virtual reality
VR with the effect of the complete immersion in a virtual environment
This type implies the presence of three factors:
A verisimilar simulation of a 3D environment with a high degree of detail.
High-performance computer system with appropriate software.
Special equipment – VR-helmet, VR-glasses, VR-gloves and joysticks connected to the hardware complex into a single VR-system.
VR without immersion in a virtual environment or pseudo-VR
Not always, the user needs a complete immersion. VR “without immersion in the environment” includes partial VR-simulations with high-quality 3D objects and the environment, sounds, and corresponding controllers ideally broadcasted on a widescreen. Projects such as 3D archaeological reconstructions of ancient settlements or building models that architects create to demonstrate their work to the client also in this category. Not all of the above examples meet the VR standards but allow the experience of the simulated world several levels deeper than other multimedia tools, and therefore are considered a type of virtual reality.
Virtual reality with collaborative infrastructure
This type can include VR worlds like Second Life, Minecraft, No Man’s Sky, The Elder Scrolls, Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Fallout 4, and others. One common property of the games above is the lack of full presence effect in a VR environment. Such worlds do not provide total immersion. Nevertheless, in virtual games, interaction with other users and the game world is perfect, and that point is often not so good realized in the products of “real” virtual reality.
Virtual worlds, however, are used not only in the gaming industry. Thanks to platforms such as 3D Immersive Collaboration and Open Cobalt, you can organize work and study 3D spaces – this is called “collaboration with the effect of presence.”
Creating the possibility of simultaneous interaction in VR and complete immersion in the environment is one of the crucial directions in the development of VR.
Computer scientists have developed a way to create virtual worlds with the use of Virtual Reality Markup Language technology, similar to HTML. VRML was undeservedly ignored for some time and now can be considered an old platform. Still, with the growing interest in Internet giants such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft in VR/AR, very soon, virtual reality will be based on interactions and advanced Internet-technologies.
Applicable scopes VR
VR is used to simulate the environment for the training of specialists in those areas where specialized preliminary training of personnel is required. For example, control of an airplane, drone, ship, or heavy machinery. VR also will be useful for training in surgery and applied military disciplines, parachute jumping, etc.
VR allows to improve and accelerate the study of micro- and macro-worlds. The molecular and atomic worlds, huge cosmic universes. By plunging into a virtual environment, scientists can simulate specific models of interactions between objects in order to understand those processes that occur in an environment inaccessible to the human eye.
VR technology is useful for training surgeons. Also, during surgery, a trained surgeon, using specialized equipment, can control the movements of medical robots and drones, getting the opportunity to ensure the best quality of surgical interventions with minimal damage to the patient’s health.
Industrial design, architecture, and interior design
Instead of creating expensive and time-consuming models of new machines, mechanisms, planes, ships, and cars, devices, or buildings, the designers, engineers, and architects can create working 3D virtual models of these objects. That allows seeing how these models will look and function in the appropriate environment. Specialists can also perform necessary tests to obtain info on critical characteristics.
Games and entertainment
At the moment, it is the most exciting and fun (for a common user) area of the practical application of VR technology. VR widely used in the gaming and entertainment industries and has a long history of successes and failures. These include both games and movies, virtual tourism, and online visiting of various exhibitions or events.
AR/MR – Augmented or Mixed Reality Today
Augmented reality is a new trend in human-computer interaction. Augmented reality supplements the physical world in real-time. It uses interactive or static 3D objects with the help of devices that support the operations with 3D objects. These can be Google Glass or the aiming systems in modern combat aircraft.
Augmented reality (AR) should be distinguished from virtual (VR) and mixed (MR).
In augmented reality, virtual objects are projected onto the real environment.
Virtual one is an alternate world created by technical means, transmitted through various feelings of perception.
Mixed or hybrid reality combines both options.
That is, virtual reality creates an alternative world where a person can enter, while augmented reality adds virtual elements to the real world to obtain a combined effect of interaction. It turns out that VR interacts only with users, and AR – with the whole outside world.
Interest in XR platforms (VR, MR, AR) in the world is growing at 50-60% per year
There is a huge difference between AR video and the everyday wearing of AR devices when non-existent objects appear before your eyes. Or even more incredibly, you can interact with virtual objects and content, while performing daily work tasks or for entertainment.
This means that if today we still do not often use AR technology at home and work, soon we can expect the appearance of an analog of iPhone 1 in the field of augmented reality. And then, after 4-5 years or so, we can get massive products of AR technology.
What could it be, the augmented reality for billions of people?
You probably thought about this more than once, and this is an exciting question!
The first step towards AR was Google Glass. The screen holds the image in front of the eyes, but it does not interact with the real world. Google Glass was very close to a smartwatch. These glasses provided a screen for data output, but they do not allow them to interact with the environment and content. A more advanced technology that uses AR/MR will enable you to display information and various objects on a virtual screen (that can be video, data, 3D objects, etc.).
True Augmented Reality
With the advent of true augmented reality, or “hybrid reality” (digital reality), digital devices will be able to place virtual objects in their place, so that you cannot be sure is what you see real or not. And this is quite impressive. Unlike Google Glass, future AR glasses/devices will be able to create three-dimensional maps of the surrounding space and continuously monitor the position of the head. This will allow you to put on the wall a “virtual TV,” which will be there while you are in this room. Or even turn the entire wall or another flat surface into a computer display and do the usual work. Or you can put any virtual environment on your desktop to build the world and create objects just from the air. And yes, anyone who wears the same glasses can see the same thing. You can turn a wall or table into a display for the whole team or family. Or you can take some object and hide it, and let your guests/children look for it. Of course, all this intersects with virtual reality, especially when it comes to adding external 3D cameras. Hybrid reality will turn the whole world into a screen for interaction. You already looked for Pokemon?
What about object recognition? This is an exciting technology. Its practical application will give us a lot of adventures and benefits. For example, I see you at a meeting, and there is a Facebook profile card above your head. Or my gadget with AR/MR technology shows me a note from a CRM system saying that you are our valuable client. Or there may be a note from the corporate database, according to which you are going to offer us some outstanding deal for a couple of million dollars and continue cooperation as a service agent. That is, AR glasses do not just scan the objects around you, but also accurately recognize them. Now it will be true and practical augmented reality. The device does not only impose images on real objects or the environment but does it smartly, turning them into a part of the real world with the opportunity to use effectively. We will be able to build effective and fast communications and to find solutions for severe problems in the shortest possible time.
Welcome to the new wonderful world of AR/VR/MR!
On the other hand, you can create conveniently visualized prompts just in front of your eyes and change the perceived world around. For example, when traveling, compile your travel reviews with AR/MR elements to share with your friends this experience and a lot of useful information, which may differ significantly from that offered by a travel agency. If today you can change themes in your smartphone or can install a plug-in in your browser that substantially changes the design, then what will future hybrid reality technology be capable of doing?
When the VR/MR glasses or gadgets become compact enough, will you wear them all day? Of course, yes! With them, you will receive many new and practical applications for home and work. For example, you can use a combination of glasses/smartphone or glasses/smartwatches to interact with content/information/objects. In the future, you do not need to pick up your smartphone or look for a tablet to watch an exciting video or find a new recipe for a delicious dish. Just say, “Ok! Google” and name the video or select the one you need from the virtual recipe list.
The more people thinking about the task of embedding VR/AR objects in the surrounding world, the more it seems that this needs to be solved by the use of virtual and physical interface combinations. For example, coming up to you, what should another person see? Your profile from Facebook? When receiving a new incoming message, should it be immediate or no? Standing in front of the restaurant, can you say: “Hey, is this a good establishment?” or should the operating system do this automatically? And which software will deal with this – OS, services added by the user, or “Google AL”? Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook may have different points of view on this, but many processes will need to be automated.
If to recall the words of Raymond that the computer should not ask the user about something that it can calculate by itself, it can be said that if the computer interprets everything that you see, then it must understand what exactly you are looking at. After about ten years of AI development, perhaps people will be able to solve many of the problems that are now solved manually.
When we moved from the screen-keyboard-mouse model of the computer interface to touch-screens in smartphones, many problems were removed. This is because the level of abstraction has changed. Smartphones or tablets do not ask us where to save photos, where you are right now, or which application to use to send an email or what password you have — no more questions. AR/MR may take a step in the same direction because it will be something more than small windows of applications that appear in the air. Just as Snapchat does not work like Facebook, an intangible AI-driven AR interface can again change our minds about how we interact with interfaces, computer devices, and the world around us.
Augmented reality and socialization of people at a new technological level
Imagine the near future. You are walking down the street. It is full of strangers hurrying about their business. By looking at people around, you will almost immediately learn a lot – their desires, needs, feelings, friends, and purchases. To do this, you do not need to engage in dialogue. All this appears in front of your eyes in virtual windows from social profiles, search engines, and video recording systems.
What you just read may be perceived as fiction. But perhaps this is the very near future. How soon augmented reality or mixed reality will become an integral part of our life – we will know this in a very short time. However, it is already known that such giants as Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and IBM have long been exploring this area for creating commercial products. Nowadays, no one can be surprised by the apps which provide additional information about surrounding objects through the screen of a smartphone or send push notifications to the user’s computer.
There is only a little time until the moment when you can just look at the crowd of passers-by through your “ordinary” Google Glass or Xiaomi Smart Glass, or maybe SmartRay-Ban and find out the status of a person, find out occupation and so on. Or it can be some kind of another portable gadget that will direct the development of AR/MR technology in a new way.
This example is about the future in which we can use our social contacts with augmented/mixed reality technologies. Perhaps this is a scenario for how people might start to interact without physical interaction?
The story “In the crowd on a busy boulevard”
Soon, you will most likely be wearing your smart glasses with a mini camera and an AR display system. Or maybe it can be something else that “displays” virtually a screen with information near each passerby. You can see what kind of music track that guy on the street is listening to. “Cool track!” you write to him as he approached. He raised his hand in greeting, and you saw a pop-up message in a virtual window: “Hello! This is my favorite track!” The next passerby is in a hurry somewhere. The status next to him says that today is his birthday! “Congratulations!” you said, noticing that he smiled and sent you a message: “Thank you! Thanks a lot!” And that beautiful girl not far away… Judging by her status on Facebook, which you can see right now, she wants to meet a guy. The latest update of the Facebook application and its integration with AR augmented reality with this social network now allows it. Where she goes in such a hurry?… You could tell her in a message before she went too far: “Hello, cool dress, where do you rush so fast?”… And she would instantly receive your message on her virtual screen.
Interaction and socialization of people have good chances to reach a new level. Above mentioned was only an example of communication through one updated Facebook application with augmented reality! In the future, there will be at least several such applications. And don’t forget about Google search! It seems that in future search engines will be able to offer much more than we have right now.
The story “services/products from the seller and quick payment”
How to choose the best provider of services or goods in real life?
How to find the best offers of goods and services near you without spending extra time?
How good will the provided services be?
Imagine you are in a market teeming with foods, fruits, and vegetables. Everyone has the same tomatoes, bananas, cucumbers, peppers, and the same ten varieties of apples. There is farm milk, cheese, and yogurt. You walk around the market, look at the information on price tags, bargain, buy, and move on.
Now imagine, you are in the same market. But now you see all the offers from sellers with detailed information. They are received on the blockchain directly from the manufacturer, even with the location and date, saying where and when the products or goods are made. You can very quickly sort the offers of all sellers by price, quality, location, grade, etc., managing the process with voice. All the best offers from sellers, profitable promotions, and discounts will be at your service almost instantly. And all thanks to the integration of the AR/MR applications in the social network and websites of sellers. Yeah! Even market traders will have their own sites and business pages on social networks – because how would they sell without them?
The status of one seller – “I have organic tomatoes grown in a clean area. The best price on the market. Free to door delivery when purchases from 10 pounds.” The status of the second “Every buyer will receive a 10% bonus discount! And the next purchase will be free of charge.” Thanks to new convenient technologies, your purchases in the market will bring a lot of profit and pleasure. All can payments can be made simply by voice, while looking at the virtual display of the scales. Everything takes a minimum of time. You will go through only those sellers who have the best offers of the goods and services necessary for you.
The story “communication and dating in places of recreation and entertainment”
In places of rest, if a person wants some conversation, it will become possible to find a partner for this easily. With the help of AR, any lonely person can come, for example, to a bar and post status that he is just waiting for someone and not ready for new contacts. Or he can write that he wants to discuss yesterday’s sporting event or a new film from Marvel Studios. Or he is just trying to find people with similar interests. Someone with a special status can attract the attention of a waiter in order not to scream across the room about ordering pizza. Or, if to go even further, then the waiter will be able to take the order remotely, sending a confirmation to the client, “Your order has been noted, expect your dishes in 10 minutes, enjoy your stay.” It is also an opportunity to make useful contacts and a panacea for people who prefer to live in a virtual world, creating the image they need.
The story “business conference on startup investment”
Imagine any conference or something like that. After the speeches, the participants look forward to a coffee break in order to eat, chat with speakers or other listeners. Someone is looking for a developer, someone for technology or investments, and someone wants to gather opinions on the relevance of the startup and present the project in more detail. People fall into the cycle of communication, hoping to establish profitable business relationships and make useful contacts. Now, at such conferences, there is the practice of an exchange of business cards, but the vast majority of them go to a bin. But as soon as augmented reality steps into the world of social networks and business applications, such problems will never arise again. You will take coffee and sandwich, and the status above will make it clear to others what kind of business connections you are looking for.
You can now imagine the story of “developing a technological solution for the new SpaceX engine” by yourself using the plot from the movie “Iron Man” from Marvel Studios.
Conclusion. An even more powerful and technological future tomorrow!
Some statistics and forecasts from IDC:
“Worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecast to be nearly $20.4 billion in 2019, an increase of 68.8% over the $12.1 billion International Data Corporation (IDC) expects will be spent this year.”
We could come up with many other exciting stories to plunge you deeper into the world of virtual and augmented reality and innovative technologies. We could imagine better interaction and communication in the workplace, office, logistics center, court, or city administration. It would be possible to describe how such a system would integrate with exchange services and cryptocurrency systems, with fitness bracelets, computer systems in transport, and even NASA. For sick people with bad health, the AR application would allow signaling of the need for help automatically. Thus, it would become noticeable that the person is in trouble and needs urgent help or calling an ambulance.
Now you can already realize that the technological possibility of non-physical interaction with VR/AR/MR has great potential for all areas of human activity and soon will make life easier for many people. It will happen just like Steve Jobs, with his engineers and developers, solved many problems of using mobile phones, Internet sites, watching videos, and games when creating an iPhone 1. Today application and gadget developers solve and improve our lives using their applications and new devices, optimize user Interfaces, and apps functionality. Be sure they will do this even further and will not stop. Get ready for an awesome future!