The notion of Virtual/Augmented Reality and Gaming usually going hand in hand within the eyes of the general public. But other than this obvious association, the applications of VR and AR are literally limitless, and run a wide gamut of disciples, from the military to healthcare to fashion. From enhancing methods of surgical preparation, to test flying planes, such technologies possess a number of real world applications that could potentially enhance our everyday lives.
Indeed, the inevitability of using VR technology is becoming more obvious by the year, with the best possible conduit for such technology being our phones. Because almost everyone has a Smartphone, they are ideal tools in delivering VR/AR experiences to the general public. Within the near future, over 600 million phones will be equipped with some form of VR extension, and the number is set to grow as more people are coming into the fold of modernity. In fact, several signs of this are already becoming apparent in 2020, with HTC and Apple looking forward to releasing their new 5G based VR hardware (the latter of the two specifically designed to be built for the iPhone).
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Fortunately, In terms of cost, this type of tech is already becoming more inexpensive to create by the year, as can be inferred by Facebook’s own foray into Virtual Reality with the Oculus Quest, which is the first measurably cheaper piece of VR hardware (At least compared to its less successful previous counterpart, the Oculus Rift), to be widely accessible to the general public. Currently being sold at $399, it is expected to sell 4 million units by the end of 2020.
Such developments in VR/AR tech differ from the traditionally bulky and PC oriented virtual reality hardware, and takes the first step into Sci-Fi territory. The keyword to remember here is ‘portability.’ Indeed, being able to access a virtual or altered reality in an instant, without having to put on expensive and heavy gear, will be key in giving this type of technology its mainstream credibility and indeed, accessibility. So, in this regard, what could be more portable than something attached to your face? Well, not much. And that’s why a number of big-name tech companies, such as Google and Apple, are eventually looking to release augmented reality oriented glasses, which could arguably serve to put an end to the current era of the Smartphone.
In fact, the transition has already begun. Although still in its infancy, such ‘Smart’ glasses are currently being used within certain sectors of the manufacturing industry, enabling enhanced remote assistance and improving coordination between employees. In the near future, when such speculative technology finds its way into the steam of everyday life, the very basis of how human beings interact with objects could potentially change. For example, with augmented reality, designing and placing furniture within a room could be done before any item is even purchased. Similarly, products could be experienced ‘first hand,’ through AR, before any transaction is made.
Also, and perhaps more importantly, AR based technology could assist in curbing future detriments to climate change, allowing for realistic but nonetheless virtually based meetings to take place between people around the world. This would greatly reduce the frequency of commuting and flights worldwide, curbing the overall usage of gas.
VR/AR in Healthcare
VR has allowed us to view parts of the human body which would otherwise be inaccessible to a surgeon in training. This gives doctors the ability to visualize an operation before conducting one, allowing medical staff to enhance their abilities. Also, with the advent of VR working with 3D motion capture technology, patients will be able to be guided properly within the comfort of their own homes by a virtual coordination system, guiding them through an essential physiotherapy exercise regimens, and won’t have to only rely on being physically present at the clinic in order to receive thorough care.
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