Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) bridge the digital and physical worlds. They allow you to take in information and content visually, in the same way you take in the world. AR dramatically expands the ways our devices can help with everyday activities like searching for information, shopping, and expressing yourself. VR lets you experience what it's like to go anywhere — from the front row of a concert to distant planets in outer space.
Augmented reality overlays digital content and information onto the physical world — as if they’re actually there with you, in your own space. AR opens up new ways for your devices to be helpful throughout your day by letting you experience digital content in the same way you experience the world. It lets you search things visually, simply by pointing your camera at them. t can put answers right where your questions are by overlaying visual, immersive content on top of your real world.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen VR come into its own as a medium — and it continues to earn critical and commercial attention. By incorporating interactivity and the viewer’s literal point of view, VR experiences reimagine the role of the audience as co-conspirator and active agent rather than simply a passive participant. VR has enormous potential to transform how we play, work, learn, communicate, and experience the world around us. It’s already positively impacting the way companies do business and changing the face of education and professional training in healthcare and beyond.
Industrial use outpaces gaming and entertainment
Most people's first experiences of VR and AR today are likely to be in gaming and entertainment. That's likely to change, as research shows that the development of enterprise XR solutions is overtaking that on consumer solutions. The 2020 XR Industry Insight report collated by VR Intelligence states that 65% of the AR companies surveyed said they are working on industrial applications, while just 37% working on consumer products and software. This shouldn’t be surprising – although games made the headlines in recent years thanks to Pokemon Go and Facebook's Oculus Rift, the potential to boost productivity and safety using XR makes it an attractive proposition for industry. VR can be used to simulate working in dangerous environments or with expensive, easily damaged tools and equipment, without any of the risks. AR, on the other hand, can be used to relay essential information directly to the user about whatever happens to be in front of them – reducing the time spent by engineers, technicians, or maintenance staff referring to manuals and looking up information online while on the job.
5G opens new possibilities for VR and AR
Super-fast mobile networks will further boost the potential of XR to strengthen its presence in entertainment and make further inroads into industry during 2020. The potential for data transfer speeds of up to 3 gigabits per second – by comparison, the average home broadband delivers well under 100 megabits per second – means 5G should be fast enough to stream VR and AR data from the cloud. Rather than needing to be wired up to powerful PCs, or encumbered by on-board hardware, viewing devices will upload tracking data to data centers where the heavy processing will be done. The rendered images can be delivered back to the user in real-time thanks to the speed of 5G and other advanced networks. Streaming VR has been possible in a limited way for a few years now – Facebook lets you do it with your phone, but the experience is limited due to data transfer speeds and low on-device processing power. Combining it with the cloud and 5G technology means designers of VR and AR tools will be unencumbered by the need to deliver their experiences into a low-bandwidth, low-powered environment. The result will be cheaper headsets and viewing devices and more realistic VR simulations.