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AR/VR: Integration into the Physical & Industrial Worlds

Integration of AR/VR into the physical and industrial worlds is one technological feat that is heading mainstream at an appreciable pace with real-life applications already in use in several sectors.

Going from figments of fiction depicted in motion pictures and literature to real hands-on digital-based technologies; augmented reality and virtual reality are in a competitive race to redefine digital imaging.

Virtual Reality

VR is closely related to the idea of telepresence which “enables people to feel as if they are present in a different place or time” as well as to the notion of immersion — deep mental involvement. Altogether, VR technologies allow greater emotional intensity and provide a new layer of experience.

Technological advances in coding language over time has spurred the creation of a coding language called Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), basically used to create a wide range of 3D images, and adding functionalities to them. This coding language is the backbone of Virtual Reality.

The potential of virtual reality technology is being harnessed for more productive applications in the real and industrial worlds. There are case studies that have shown that the optimal utilization of the VR technology offers new opportunities for training, maintenance, and problem-solving scenarios without the physical event needing to take place. Insight into some of these case studies is expounded below.

VR in Marketing

Thanks to the constantly changing digital landscape, advertisers have been forced to get more and more creative with their advertisements, all while looking for the next great advertising idea. As such, VR has been one of the most discussed new consumer technologies over the last couple of years. The technological development and lower production costs have recently made VR more available for the marketing industry too.

Companies such as Virgin Holidays created a great example of how VR technology is used to achieve the company’s goals. Using Google Cardboard technology, Virgin Holidays created a 360° experience of visiting resorts in Mexico. The video shows customers what they can do and see in these destinations, like swimming with the dolphins and walking on cliffs.

The main goal of the campaign was to tempt people into planning their next trip with Virgin Holidays. As a result, the sales of the trips showcased in the VR video rose significantly.

Furthermore, VR provides a great way to showcase your products to customers without them stepping into your store. A great example of this is the IKEA Virtual Store that gives an opportunity to explore IKEA Living room, Living room storage, Bedroom and Wardrobes departments at any time of the day. This enables customers to “walk” the store, browse and even buy products — all without leaving their couch.

Several brands such as Samsung, Google, and Facebook already use VR to increase awareness, enhance engagement and improve their customer experience. Moreover, it’s estimated that VR will continue to disrupt business models becoming the next major platform shift after the web and mobile device.

VR in Agriculture

Farming is changing as rapidly as any industry. The intersection of virtual reality, commercial autonomous flying vehicles, i.e., drones, and data drive agriculture to create exciting opportunities for software developers to support the growth of digital resources.

Everybody knows that both too much rain and too much sun are equally harmful to crops. Weather forecast helps farmers understand what weather should they expect for in the nearest days. In this case, virtual reality can simulate various weather conditions and display their consequences on crops.

A real-life example of VR input in the Agriculture Industry is the AGCO’s Jackson plant in the USA. Assembly workers gird digital binoculars to access instructions, pictures, and video to ensure the correct assembling of farming tractor components. With the use of VR equipment called Glass at AGCO’s Jackson plant, higher productivity and other improvements have become welcome developments. The Glass as it is called technically is a mini computer and display generated into a pair of binoculars.

In a not so far future VR technology will not only be useful in the production of mechanized farming equipment as being used by AGCO manufacturing plant, but farmers will also get to have a fair share of the potential of this technology.

VR in the Automobile Industry

Technology is transforming the way we experience and buy cars. Dealerships have been changing in format, size, and concept – now we can buy cars in our lunch breaks from city center retail stores or virtually test drive the latest models.

The London Audi City showroom in Green Park, for example, is the smallest Audi dealership in the UK. Interestingly, 50 per cent of its customers in the first half of 2017 ordered vehicles at the store without a physical test drive, having ‘experienced’ their future car in an entirely virtual environment

Also, Volvo, a leading automobile brand manufacturer came up with its own version of virtual reality called the Volvo-reality, built on the chassis of Google Cardboard. During the pre-release of the Volvo XC 90 Luxury SUV, the automobile maker ran a massive campaign for the model and in this campaign, users were immersed in a breathtaking mountain drive all with the employment of Virtual Reality.

The possibilities are endless, and it’s just a matter of time before creating and ordering our virtual dream car over lunchtime to have it delivered to our doorstep is the norm. The question that needs to be asked is; Will VR negate the need for physical showrooms completely?

Augmented Reality

AR is a technology that overlays information and virtual objects on real-world scenes in real-time. Technically, AR modifies a real environment by adding digital information to create a fresh artificial environment.

Developers are churning out cool Augmented Reality apps in their numbers every day, and this development has gained the technology a broader commercial appeal. Some of the case studies that do show the optimal integration of Augmented Reality in the physical and industrial worlds are:

AR in Aviation

The emerging wave of change in the aviation industry will be in the form of Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Using AR, real-time information is used in the form of text, images, and audio enhancements integrated with actual objects. Technological innovations impact most of the industries, and aviation is no exception.

The primary utility of AR in aviation is its ability to overlay relevant information on demand. Today’s AR systems such as the Aero Glass can visualize terrain, navigation, air-traffic, instrument, weather, and airspace information in a 360-degree, 3D overlay that is easy to understand.

Since 2011, Airbus has used AR applications on tablets to help technicians charged with inspecting brackets on the Airbus A380 aircraft. More recently, we see advancements where augmented reality is being used by workers (not trainees) to reduce errors and increase efficiency. GE, for example, adopted Google’s Enterprise Glass to allow workers to see instructions or references while working on a part while also helping to document the work done.

AR in Medicine

One clear technological advance in medicine in the last few decades has been Augmented Reality, which has further benefited from advances in general computer technology. The detailed real-time images we can produce now have transformed the practice of medicine in many areas.

Before the introduction of Augmented Reality into medicine, Surgeons have lots of anatomical data from images at their disposal, but they are mostly looking at 2-dimensional displays that they review before surgery, or have to look away from the patient during surgery. The introduction of AR has the potential of providing a heads-up display, giving vital information to surgeons overlaid on the patient.

The longer-term solution of there not being enough medical professionals to go around is, of course, to train more. AR is already having a profound impact on medical training, with applications ranging from 3D visualizations to bring anatomical learning to life, to helping trainee nurses to master techniques for checking vital signs.

AR has a key role to play in guaranteeing the quality of such consultations. This is especially true in our field of surgery. Rather than simply being about diagnostics, the Proximie app uses AR to allow complete surgical procedures to be carried out over distance, with a specialist using the AR tools to guide and collaborate with a colleague in real time.

Conclusion

When it comes to augmented reality and virtual reality application in all sphere of life, the potential benefits and possibilities are nearly endless. Thankfully, we’re already past the point of speculation and entering the time where practical uses are being utilized to benefit works and provide added safety to all involved.

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REFERENCES

Augment News. (2018). Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality – Augment News. [online] Available at: https://www.augment.com/blog/virtual-reality-vs-augmented-reality/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Custom Printed Portable Google Cardboard VR Viewer San Francisco. (2018). 5 case studies of companies successfully implementing VR marketing str | Custom Printed Portable Google Cardboard VR Viewer San Francisco. [online] Available at: https://www.dodocasevr.com/single-post/2017/10/17/5-case-studies-of-companies-successfully-implementing-VR-marketing-strategies [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Steven, N. (2018). Augmented Reality in Medicine. [online] Science-Based Medicine. Available at: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/augmented-reality-in-medicine/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Proximie – The future of surgery. (2018). Six ways augmented reality (AR) is transforming the future of healthcare. [online] Available at: http://www.proximie.com/six-ways-augmented-reality-is-transforming-the-future-of-healthcare/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Sharma, A. (2018). How Augmented Reality is Transforming Aviation…and More. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/jtv-insights/how-augmented-reality-is-transforming-aviation-and-more-c5671535f418 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Hill, P. (2018). Virtual reality enters the agricultural arena. [online] Future farming. Available at: https://www.futurefarming.com/Tools-data/Articles/2017/12/Virtual-reality-enters-the-agricultural-arena-4212WP/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Bickov, A. (2018). What is a VR marketing and how brands are using Virtual Reality in their marketing strategies? [online] ARVR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality. Available at: https://arvrjourney.com/vr-marketing-how-to-use-it-virtual-reality-advertising-8d0f04fe6665   [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

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I am a writer/engineer for AX Control, an industrial automation reseller, located in North Carolina. I have 10+ years working in the industrial automation world.

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