Immersive Technology is set to transform retail, education, health, manufacturing and many other sectors. But how soon is this likely to impact the day-to-day customer experience? TV Tech Guru David McClelland and CANCOM’s Enterprise Architect, Jason Normanton discuss the latest developments in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality.
Immersive Technologies: VR+AR+MR = IR by David McClelland
Virtual and immersive realities (IR) have the power to engage at an emotional level to a degree that is difficult to achieve elsewhere with technology. Virtual reality (VR) and 360-video take our brains to places that our bodies cannot go – a unique proposition for education and entertainment.
Mixed (MR) and augmented realities (AR) overlay the virtual world onto our physical world – a powerful tool for operational use, customer experience and education. Broad adoption of IR technologies has been slow. A primary challenge here is ease of content creation.
Imagine a world where the only people who could create pages on the World Wide Web were web developers; or where only film and TV producers using broadcast equipment could upload to YouTube.
Neither YouTube nor the web would survive were these the case, and until immersive reality content creation becomes democratised, VR and AR will remain limited.
Even during the recent VR boom – inspired by the Oculus Rift S campaign and subsequent multi-billion-dollar acquisition by Facebook – analysts predicted that AR is where the real money is. Google tried and failed with Glass, but that’s far from the end of the story.
Key to unlocking AR & MR are AI & Machine Learning
These two technologies combined with machine vision systems, provide the necessary real-time understanding of the environment.
Will this heavy processing take place on board the head mounted displays or spectacles? If not, then low-latency, high-bandwidth wireless communications will be required. Another use case for 5G and another example of how very few applications of these technologies can stand on their own without support from the others.
Immersive Reality; are we there yet? By Jason Normanton
In spite of some exciting use case scenarios, the uptake of AR/VR has been very
slow to materialise with probably the most widely used system today being
But even this industry leading solution is still in its infancy with use cases
predominantly still in the demo stage. I believe there are two main reasons holding it
The first is the technology. It’s still clunky and relatively proprietary in format. (The fact that most AR/VR headsets look like welders helmets, doesn’t really help.) OK, we had Google Glass back in 2014. But this was hampered by privacy concerns and bad press and has only received one update since its launch in 2014.
The second reason is the lack of software packages supporting individual manufacturers’ implementations. Independent Software Vendors have been slow to develop for VR/AR technologies, even though Software Development Kits and APIs have been available for some time now.
So, to move forward rich graphical content needs be sent directly to the device, no matter where it is located, (think 5G here). Technology needs to become much more miniaturised without compromising the user experience. And independent software vendors like Autodesk and games manufacturers need to get truly on board. Until then, arguably, AR/VR will not realise its full potential.
Despite the short-term obstacles, Immersive Reality will undoubtedly transform user experiences across sectors. And to thrive and survive it’s essential for established organisations to start thinking like their disrupter counterparts, today.
New enabling platforms such as Azure, can help companies start to harness and prepare for the power of emerging technologies, much faster.
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