Table of contents
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are among the rapidly evolving trends and visions in the IT industry. In addition to interactive digital games or movies, virtuality offers a wide range of opportunities for learning, simulation and experience. Not only fans of the entertainment industry are benefiting from the further development of VR technology - it is slowly but surely taking root in many areas of society.
Augmented and virtual reality definition
VR is an interactive virtual environment created by special hardware and software. The most important element here are VR glasses. They are equipped with two high-resolution displays that show artificially created images in real time. A sensor system is connected to them to register the position and movement of the head. Moving the body changes the calculated images in the same way that the view and perspective would change without glasses. The peculiarity of VR is that, in combination with additional input devices, from keyboards to special controllers, the virtual world can be manipulated, and not just be present as a spectator.
The term virtual reality was coined by D. Broderick, who first used it in his 1982 science fiction novel Judas Mandala. In 1987, the term was first included in the Oxford English Dictionary.
The source of the images shown differs depending on the application of virtual reality: scenarios can be completely computer-generated, fantasy or a mixture of real and virtual. In the latter case, we are talking about AR, where reality is diluted with virtual elements. Unlike VR, a completely artificial environment is not created here, but normal perception is enriched with the help of texts, videos, images or three-dimensional animation. For example, computer-generated objects are in the real world as their visible extension.
The main purpose of AR is to provide additional information. The user still perceives their real surroundings, but receives additional, mostly visual or auditory content. Such a system consists of several components. The heart is a computer system that provides information. A camera and a display are also required. The camera captures the real world. The desired information is then added using a computer system. Finally, the display takes over the function of displaying computer data to the user.
There are several ways to display this information. Smartphone display is an option. However, it is also possible to project additional data onto the surface. In practice, this is known, for example, from head-up displays in vehicles. Additional information is available to the driver in real time, without the need to take your eyes off the road.
The possibilities and ways of using virtual reality and augmented reality are very diverse. Both the private sector and industry can benefit from digital technologies.
How does AR/VR help human perception?
People are usually attracted to and guided by visual stimuli. To a large extent, a person perceives things and events optically. Accordingly, it processes information faster if, for example, sounds are associated with visual stimuli. Three-dimensional images have a number of advantages over two-dimensional ones. This is especially true for complex data.
The scope of VR goes even further, as it aims to visualize processes and thereby display more details and information than real-world models allow.
This greatly simplifies work, especially in the field of industrial production, since invisible or non-intuitive data is available. Abandoning the classic presentation as text or graphics on a display skips the operational stage of conscious attention and processing and avoids mistransmission because the information is available not in an abstract form but as part of a situation.
Procter & Gamble has already tapped the potential of system optimization, which has reduced the company's costs by 15%.
With the help of VR, data can be visualized in their real context, and improvement is achieved, first of all, in knowledge-intensive processes, such as analytical activities.
AR vs. VR
- AR is a mixture of the real and virtual worlds.
- With the help of AR, the user perceives the real environment and interacts with the real world and digital extensions.
- Hardware augmented reality: smartphone, tablet, smart glasses.
- VR is a purely virtual world.
- With the help of VR, the user is completely immersed in the virtual environment and interacts with it.
- Hardware VR: Smartphone with glasses attachment, VR goggles, VR gloves, VR controller.
Both methods generate information in real time using computer systems. The user then interacts with this data. Unlike augmented reality, virtual reality is an exclusively artificial world in which the user immerses all his senses. He no longer perceives the real environment, but only sees, hears and feels the computer world.
A number of advantages should be noted when using AR and VR applications:
- Visualization of detailed and specific information;
- Support for complex and difficult tasks;
- Reduction of time costs due to the impossibility of obtaining information in advance;
- Expansion of perception through additional digital objects;
- A combination of tactile and digital experiences.
However, please note that these benefits do not automatically result from the arbitrary use of offers and devices. The range is extensive and choosing the right technology determines the best possible result.
Virtual and augmented reality application in practice
Without a doubt, virtual reality technology is advancing in the entertainment market, albeit not as fast as initially thought. One of the classic examples of VR is panoramic images, which are created using Google Street View, among other things. 360-degree music videos, tours, movies captivate the audience much more. Virtual reality makes the action tangible and gives the illusion that you are living there. That's why digital technology has the potential to change the world of cinema as we know it in the long run.
Another big area of virtual reality is games. Here you can completely immerse yourself in another world and interact with the virtual environment. Quality games and VR apps that offer many hours of interesting stories and challenges are becoming more and more popular, and their developers have a lot of potential in the market.
Attending a concert from the sofa thanks to VR
In 2016, the first virtual reality concert took place. Samsung exclusively and live broadcast the show of the London band Years & Years. Every fan who wore Samsung Gear VR glasses could comfortably experience the show from the comfort of their sofa through interactive live streaming. Three different angles were available for the world premiere of the new technology - in the middle of the action, standing in the front row, or right next to the musicians' stage. Years & Years was followed by many other artists, AC/DC, Beck and Coldplay. In addition to the number of artists available for selection, the number of viewers has also increased.
At the FIFA World Cup in Russia, the opening match was broadcast in VR. The BBC sports department has developed its own app for this. Two all-round cameras were placed behind the gate, and that's all.
Another way to apply virtual reality in sports is through the study of sports science and practice. In competitive sports, it is used to train cognitive processes. Workout apps for the average user promise a personalized program with entertaining exercises.
Training and further education
Experience is needed in most situations - be it training, hobbies or work. It is often impossible to get an important skill in advance, you have to wait until an opportunity or a specific event appears. Sometimes this is just the right path, but there are areas where preferred experience can be invaluable. For example, simulating a complex operation in medicine, repairing specific equipment, a dangerous rescue operation, or checking a construction site.
Teachers and educational institutions are another important application of virtual reality in education, and a good example is the Titans of Space VR app. Using VR goggles, students can see up close how big the planets and their moons are in our solar system.
With the help of VR technology, you can simulate countless situations and get valuable learning effects: studying living beings, understanding complex processes through your own experience, the opportunity to try, but without negative consequences in real life. Compared to conventional instructional videos that only visualize specific moments, virtual reality makes these instances tangible and enhances the learning experience. The educational possibilities and applications of virtual reality are endless and can make a valuable contribution to personal and professional development.
Research, development, business and production
In the field of research and development, simulations can be implemented very efficiently and relatively inexpensively in a VR environment. Here, situations can be created that are physically impossible in laboratories, for example, interactive visualization of laser particle acceleration processes.
Many work processes today involve a lot of technical data, especially in the field of industrial production. The application of virtual reality in industry can help make basic information and accumulated knowledge available in a specific situation and thus reduce costs, facilitate workflows and increase sales.
With the help of AR and VR, production plans and models can be displayed on site. This ranges from the virtual completion of steps to precise assembly instructions for the manufacture of individual components. Models in 3D can be created during construction, industrial production of goods or at the planning stage. In architecture, this can greatly reduce design cost and reduce development time.
VR technologies have long been used by Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen. With applications that connect employees and VR tools, the world's giants develop, test and implement their know-how.
There are also many scenarios for advertising. With AR, the client is given a direct opportunity to interact. This engages the potential buyer and creates some kind of emotional connection. In fact, the buyer can inspect the goods before buying and see them in use. Magic mirrors are an interesting solution in stores. With their help, customers can, for example, try on clothes virtually. Interactive AR installations allow you to virtually equip an apartment with furniture from the catalog. So the consumer can feel the effect of the furniture, check whether it fits into the room.
This year's CES in Las Vegas saw the introduction of the first augmented reality display called the Deep Frame. This display works WITHOUT additional glasses and WITHOUT a tablet.
Even something as big as a swimming pool or a wood-burning stove can be modeled right in the client's home. For companies, this has the advantage that such realistic presentations can be made without any effort or expense. This means a huge competitive advantage over competitors whose marketing is still based on classic structures.
The practical application of virtual reality in medicine has been a constant topic in medicine since the 1990s. Since then, for example, neurosurgeons have begun using 3D brain models to better prepare for upcoming surgery.
AR systems also transmit real-time data to operating doctors, providing information for more precise intervention.
VR glasses offer many exciting new possibilities in therapy as well. For example, it is already being used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic trauma. By applying simulation-VR, patients gradually face their problem in a controlled environment and learn to overcome it.
Studies in the US show that VR therapy works for about 80% of patients with psychological problems.
Another example where virtual reality has proved extremely useful is in the treatment of autistic children. Among other things, it helps to train motor skills. In the future, VR will cover many other areas of medicine.
Virtual reality development perspectives and professional applications
Miniaturization and general technological progress in the IT sector will ensure the increasing spread of augmented reality in everyday life. It remains to be expected that augmented and virtual reality will not only comprehensively accompany and shape industry and business production in the coming decades, but also play an important role in the private sector.
"Augmented Reality is coming with great success, and when it does, we'll wonder how we ever lived without it."
- Tim Cook, Apple CEO
In particular, the demand for customized solutions will continue to grow in the near future. AR and VR have the potential to provide cost-effective and actionable alternatives in many industries and scenarios. Programming such solutions is often hardly more difficult than programming conventional applications. Companies interested in this technology can get professional support from IT service providers who have the necessary know-how to implement individual projects in the field of VR and AR.