Imagine that you are sitting on the stadium, next to your favourite team’s coach and you are watching the game. Long ball to the left, the player speeds up, dribbles, shoots and … GOAL! You’re pretty sure it was an offside. How to prove it? Just rewind, change your location, now you’re standing behind the goal-keeper. All thanks to a newly launched 360 video streaming service….
Or let’s say it’s a Monday morning, you come to the office, turn the computer on and instead of looking at the white wall of your cubicle, you go through your list of task watching a sunrise in Bali. On your way home you’re strolling through your city, seeing how it looked like 100 years ago.
And then you run into the supermarket, already late and in a hurry and can’t find this one product you simply need instantly. You put your glasses on and everything falls into place—it’s on a shelf no. 437. You grab it and go back.
Sci-fi story? A dream? Actually, it’s already happening. Where? In virtual and augmented reality space.
What is it all about?
There is an ongoing discussion concerning the most distinctive features of these technologies. Each major company has its own naming convention for their Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality experiences and headsets. In the end, it’s really hard to communicate what VR, AR or MR exactly are. From the technological perspective, there is a one common feature that they all share: they project a three-dimensional, computer generated environment and content that can be explored and interacted with by a user.
In VR, the stimuli for our senses—sight, hearing or even touch —are generated artificially, so users are enaged in a virtual world, which they can perceive as the reality. That’s where the word “immersive” appears. The more realistic experience, the more immersive it is. Sounds familiar? Do you remember The Matrix movie? At least for now, it still requires a head-mounted display covering your field of view.
When it comes to AR our senses aren’t overridden. Instead, they are “enhanced”, so users see and hear computer generated objects, which are added next to the real ones. It’s possible that in the near future, when looking through smart glasses or contact lenses, one may have trouble saying what’s real and what’s not.
From technological point of view, these technologies are very similar. Depending on the business use case and its usage context, one of them is usually a better fit but provided you have good technological design, you may even get a single app working in both AR and VR mode. There’s a very thin line and one may even say that every time we combine virtually generated and existing reality we are talking about Mixed Reality. This is the way Microsoft advertises the new line of VR headsets, which are spatial aware, meaning that they scan and map user’s environment in real-time.
New opportunities for business
VR and AR business’ potential is huge. Entertainment (gaming, 360 movies etc.) is already explored to a great extent, like in surreal music journey with Gorillaz, legendary Fallout game in VR or in the first VR short to get Oscar nomination. AR already found its place in medicine, like in the case of Microsoft’s HoloLens helping surgeons perform operations and in education, since it’s used to teach kids about nature (Google’s Expeditions). Deloitte made a great analysis of what’s going in the enterprise space.
VR and AR are gaining traction
The whole idea is already deeply embedded in our culture: just think of The Matrix movie or Ghost in the Shell anime, books like Minority Report or Ready Player One (both adapted for movies). We may argue if these visions are even possible but just take into consideration that 10 years ago many doubted if smartphones would ever become popular. How to prove it? Let’s take a look at some numbers. One of the hottest topics currently is Mobile AR. It is estimated that there are roughly 380 Million iPhones ARKit-compatible. Google has just jumped into the race with the recently released ARCore.
As of Q2 2017, major manufacturers still see stable sales of VR headsets.
It is highly probable that just like smartphones 10 years ago, VR and AR will start up the next digital revolution and reduce communication, spatial and physical barriers between people.
Grzegorz Kapusta, CEO, Polidea
Make your VR/AR app with Polidea
So what comes now? VR and AR awaken new kind of energy and creativity that can foster learning, working and generally—better living. For now, the biggest challenge is to create experiences that are accessible and can significantly improve our lives. It’s a huge opportunity for businesses of all kinds and as we are at VR and AR frontier, we are determined to shape the way it’s all done.
At Polidea, we believe that potentially each activity in the future will be accompanied by some extra experiences available through VR or AR devices, so we are broadening our offer. With our design and development expertise, we will continue to create digital products and immersive Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences using the most innovative tools out there. Learn more about it here. Changes are ahead!
- Joanna Kasprzak-KajderCommunication Lead
- Chris WróbelSenior VR/AR Engineer