Entering a whole new dimension where the real world can be simulated or manipulated, has been high on the agenda for many tech companies and game developers. This is otherwise known as virtual reality, VR for short. Both virtual reality and augmented reality have been seemingly taking off these past few years, as the technologies and resources for such devices have been more mainstream. In this article, we go from history, to what the future holds for virtual reality, and augmented reality!
What Is Virtual Reality?
The first traces of VR leads us back to 1957, where the technology was first invented by Morton Heilig. Morton Heilig created a VR device titled the Sensorama and has since been considered as one of the earliest VR devices.
Virtual reality refers to a simulated experience that could be identical to the real-world such as hospitals, cooking, and education VR simulated applications. Or could also be the total opposite, such as for gaming/relaxation purposes, where the developer would enhance the experience by placing the user into a whole new world. VR is typically done through a headset and controllers that fit the shape of the human hand.
What Is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality was invented back in 1968, when Ivan Sutherland had created the first head-mounted display system. Since then, the augmented reality technology has improved tremendously and now can be found on modern-day smartphones, in games, and in real-world applications.
AR utilizes cameras on smartphones or tablets to make an interactive experience with the environment around you. For example, the AR application could insert new objects into your environment, and allow you to interact, and manipulate them through the screen of your phone/tablet. Or, the AR application could allow you to interact directly with the objects in your environment such as adding effects to them, or the ability to move them around.
Unlike VR, AR utilizes the real-world environment to allow the user to interact with objects in their surroundings. While VR utilizes computer-generated conditions to let the user play games through VR simulation or to let students practice and improve their skills.
Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Use Cases
There are many applications and use cases that would put VR & AR technologies to the test, even here in Australia, many startups and tech giants have started to take advantage of virtual reality, as well as augmented reality.
I) For Training/Education
One of the major advantages virtual reality has, is the ability to transport the user to a whole new environment, where they can easily practice with practical lessons, to further hone their skills, without facing any consequences if something were to go wrong. Here are some of the virtual reality learning use cases:
Medical Training. The medical industry expects medical students to have a record of nearly zero accidents to occur whether that is in the operating theatre, or the dentist’s office. Therefore, the best way to practice is by gaining hands-on practice, and the current VR & AR technologies offer a perfect solution for that.
In Schools. For students, utilizing VR and AR allows for a unique experience like no other. Such as by going to virtual field trips to popular landmarks, or to explore the universe in a 1:1 scale.
Military Training. In the military, training is a continuous effort that never stops. And when faced with a life-threatening situation, such as a terrorist attack, the soldiers’ training kicks in and allows them to fearlessly deal with any unforeseen circumstance. Hence, utilizing VR & AR allows them to jump into those scenarios and plan, as well as to obtain feedback on how to improve their strategies.
Space Exploration. Astronauts require nonstop training, to be prepared for whatever situation outer space might throw at them. Being able to simulate situations with the precise physics we see in space, allows these astronauts to gain a better understanding of how to prepare for what’s on the different surfaces of planets, how to complete a spacewalk, and many more!
Maintenance Procedures. For technicians, aircraft maintenance technicians, and more, VR & AR allows them to easily put on a headset and put their skills to the test, giving them vital feedback on how to operate efficiently and effectively when it comes to the real thing.
These are only just a few examples of virtual reality learning, and the options are limitless! From education to the military, VR & AR have found themselves to be useful in all of them. These technologies allow us to train anyone from soldiers, to medical students, while not having to spend as much, in comparison to doing the same thing in the real-world.
What Does The Future Hold For AR & VR?
To put it simply, the future for both virtual reality and augmented reality is limitless. It has been predicted and forecasted that in 2022, investments for VR and AR will reach a staggering 15.5 billion euros, enhancing the current technologies for virtual reality and augmented reality, and enriching students all around the globe. Furthermore, the estimated number of people who utilize VR, is expected to rise to a whopping 57.1 million in 2021; currently, there are 43 million users.
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Whether it’s for learning or gaming, VR and AR both have a bright future ahead of them, and don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon!