Last year the Reliance Industries streamed live it's Annual General Meeting which was recorded in 360 degree Virtual Reality camera. This year, while announcing the plans to launch the Jio GigaFiber, they stressed on how streaming Gigabits of data could help with immersive Virtual Reality applications. What really is this virtual or augmented reality? And how is this poised to change the world?
What is Virtual Reality?
The Virtual Reality by definition is complete immersion of oneself into a 'virtual' world that practically does not exists. The virtual world is created around you through a series of simulation hardware and software. Its basically convinces your mind by providing exclusive and immersive Visuals, Auditory, Sensory Inputs and Interactions usually through a head gear or device that you wear or wrap around your eyes. Some of the popular VR devices includes Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Microsoft HoloLens, etc.
What Is Augmented Reality?
The Augmented Reality on the other hand is 'mixed' reality where a virtual or digital object is injected in the real world. Sounds like Pokemon Go? It basically uses the camera and sensor technologies of existing hardware to capture the real world and then uses specialized software to layover an interactive digital element. With Augmented Reality you don't need any specific Gear or Device to wrap around your eyes. This gives a great deal of flexibility to marketers and product owners give 'feel' of their offering. Think of it - you are browsing through set of furniture on an online portal, what's better than checking how that table blends with your interiors by just pointing to a location with your mobile camera!
What Can They Be Used For?
Mobiles & Computers - What would you say about we give your a head gear instead of a mobile and computer wearing which you can simply 'draw' your desktop on the wall in front you? Well welcome to Microsoft Hololens. It has potential to make the whole of your computing experience totally virtual. You can simply wear the device and draw screen on any wall in any direction. Perhaps on the left its playing the YouTube video, on the right its showing your favorite blog while you working on your center screen!
Gaming - The default thought that comes to anyone's mind when thinking about Virtual/Augmented Reality. The Gaming Industry could certainly be the bigger beneficiary here which has been demonstrated with popularity of Pokemon Go. Moreover the Sony PlayStation VR and rumored Microsoft XBox One X VR which are meant for serious gamers are having the games those could be played through VR head gears.
Marketing, E-Retailing - This is another area which can tap potential from Augmented & Virtual Reality. Think of, instead of heading to car showroom to check out a car, you are instead being provided an app or a link to experience it right at the comfort of your couch! Impressive isn't it? Similarly check out how would that TV set or that Sofa or that Bed from your favorite shopping site would look like in your home. No need for that try before you buy and then return with zero question policy!
Education - The Education is already transforming and stepping into digital age by replacing the more traditional blackboard, pen, paper approach. It gives students the flexibility to learn anything, anywhere and at any pace. What could be much better if that experience is transformed into an immersive one with VR/AR? Think of your child learning about 'quantum physics' but instead of just trying to under it with static text & diagram, we instead have him/her run through an entire immersive video which helps him/her visualize, understand and memorize better. This perhaps is the best use of the technology.
Real Estate - Are you looking out for new house? No need to actually visit the actual site anymore. Just browse through the catalog and indulge yourself in a 360 view of properties and its surroundings right from your mobile. Only when you are 100% convinced do you decide to visit the site physically. Another way of spoiling yourself 🙂
Research, Modelling - Another area where the VR/AR can assist is through having providing multi dimensional visual views of medical, astronomical, engineering models to give a better or another perspective.
Are They Used Anywhere Today?
Both Virtual & Augmented reality are in their nascent stages today. A lot of technology giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple are investing heavily in this technology. Moreover a lot of startups and application developers are showing interest and brainstorming to come up with that next revolutionary experience. Currently the biggest deterrents are those bulky head gears and need of an additional device like mobile phone or computer for processing the demanding visuals. However enough focus is set on how to have a much sleeker and cheaper device, inline with Google Glass, that can cut down on retail consumer entry barrier. Moreover, the companies needs to come up with SDK platforms that can help developers write and port the applications to VR/AU platforms. And the internet speed and cost should support streaming a VR/AR media for the best experience.
The Virtual and Augmented reality are still at their very nascent stages. Currently there are lot of entry barriers right from hardware to software and not just for retail customers but for developers and startups alike. However, after the iPhone revolution, this has the potential to become the next disruption in the way we consume and interact with our world. Who knows in future you just have empty walls around you which comes alive the moment you wear that glass!
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