Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are two growth markets likely to change the face of several different sectors throughout the next decade. Not only are they heavily impacting gaming, which is where the first innovations really began to see the light of day, but they have far-reaching consequences for manufacturing, engineering, design, healthcare and retail sectors too.
The shared market is set to be worth in the region of $170 billion by 2022, with technical specifications and design evolving at a swift rate to meet the growing demand across a range of industries.
Gaming saw the first real impact in the virtual reality sector, with a number of titles showing off the huge potential emerging within the technology. Whilst that market will continue to develop and change the face of home entertainment, it is the developments in other areas that will perhaps define the nature of VR and AR moving forward.
The manufacturing industry will be one area, which will see significant benefits over the coming years. New technology delivers the potential to increase accuracy in the manufacturing and assembly processes. For instance, many emerging technologies use a whole host of different PCBs, which must be tailored for specific applications. The PCB design is a field in which the work is intricate and precise, but AR can now help make the process far more effective. It affords the ability to move between different layers of a PCB board during the process and deliver intricate instructions ‘on-screen’ during the manufacturing process.
Businesses are also likely to see developments in wearable tech as a work aid, offering employers the opportunity to deliver content to staff via wearable tech, even if they’re based in different locations. Meetings conducted virtually can involve holograms and instructions on screen too, all through headsets that simply plug into a computer.
Even in an industry such as mining, AR and VR can deliver significant benefits. By linking into a drone a company could capture several thousand images of a mine or cave. Those images can then be processed to create a 3D replication of the whole site, identifying safety issues and allowing for intricate planning and exploration. Indeed, the mine can even be explored via AR and VR prior to anyone leaving the safety of the site office.
In healthcare, AR and VR will soon become commonplace, too. Sending a camera into the human body has been a practice used by many surgeons in the past, but new technology will soon allow for models to be built up of a patient before any surgical procedure is made. Not only that, but a headset can be used to deliver intricate information about the anatomy to doctors and nurses whilst they carry out their jobs, facilitating learning both during training as well as post-qualification.
For now, many link AR or VR with games such as Pokémon Go or their PS4 VR, but as the new decade develops we’ll see it used increasingly across a number of sectors, in much the same way those living in the sixties predicted computers would eventually impact our lives.