Outlook on Augmented & Virtual Reality
Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies and applications have greatly risen in popularity over the last two years. With the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, and the introduction of the Metaverse towards the end of 2021, AR and VR were propelled into the spotlight, garnering much attention from media and investors.
The fourth quarter of 2021 saw an investment of nearly $1.9 billion from venture capital firms into the AR/ VR space, making it the largest quarter ever for AR/VR in terms of venture capital funding.
Investors and consumers are enamored by these technologies and the potential they have to positively disrupt our everyday lives–from how we work and learn, to the ways in which we shop and entertain ourselves.
As people become more accustomed to digital technologies, Augmented and Virtual Reality have the potential to serve as the foundation for this new digital era we are embarking upon. An era where the physical and digital world become more intertwined than ever before.
Currently, these technologies are redefining our relationship with data, making it more interactive and engaging compared to traditional digital visualization tools. Due to this innovation, AR and VR are being adopted by companies across different industries such as Healthcare and Construction, and being utilized by education instructions around the world.
Here are 5 exciting Augmented and Virtual Reality trends we are seeing in 2022:
1. AR & VR in Healthcare
In an industry centered around the vitality of human life, the use of cutting-edge technologies is integral to creating successful outcomes. Whether it’s the development of a new medicine, or equipping surgeons with the best equipment and technology; success comes in many forms in the Healthcare industry. AR & VR are powerful tools being leveraged in ways to make that success easier to attain.
The potential for AR and VR in Healthcare is apparent, and many companies and investors are enthusiastic about what these technologies are capable of, as well as what will be possible in the future. The global market for augmented and Virtual Reality in healthcare is one of the fastest growing sectors in the healthcare industry. AR & VR in healthcare, as a market, is estimated to grow from $2.22 billion this year, to $9.02 billion by 2027. An increase of over 120% in less than 5 years.
Augmented and Virtual Reality are some of the most exciting emerging technologies in the healthcare industry. The rise in interest and investment in AR/VR is mainly due to these technologies being able to provide solutions to challenges within the health care system. For instance, VR and AR are emerging in the healthcare field as a solution for improving medical training and education. With VR, surgeons and students can train and improve their techniques with virtually simulated training and education programs.
These VR simulations allow students to explore and learn about the human body, without the risk of endangering patients. By relying on physical human bodies, students are only able to practice once or twice before performing an actual surgical procedure. There are major risks and liabilities involved with inexperienced medical students practicing on human patients. With VR, students can practice their procedures on lifelike digital models as many times as they would like, with the freedom to explore, make mistakes, and learn in a way that mimics a real-life operation.
The Johnson and Johnson Institute is utilizing VR for these very reasons with its recently launched VR training program for orthopedic surgeons and nurses. The J&J Institute are using VR to cover a couple of procedures, but plan on expanding its use for other operations in the future. When speaking with Medgadget, David Badri, Virtual Reality and WW Professional Education at Johnson and Johnson, said this:
“VR enables surgeons and nurses to train in a safe environment, providing them with flexibility, repeatability, and direct feedback to enhance surgical techniques, reduce travel costs and save time. With VR, surgeons, nurses, and residents can practice at their own pace and as often as they want until they master a procedure.”
Regarding AR, many applications have been developed for the Healthcare industry that cover areas from medical training, to improving the accuracy of patient diagnosis. For instance, surgeons are using AR during spinal surgery to improve patient outcomes. Using the AR headset, surgeons can view data from a patient’s CT scans, overlayed onto the body of the patient. The issue of having to continuously look at an X-ray image during surgery is eliminated with AR. Surgeons can now remain hyper-focused on the patient and the operation by relying on the data from the AR headset.
There are many areas of opportunity for AR/VR in Healthcare, and these are just some examples that are displaying positive results. As the investments made in these technologies begin to materialize into more use cases, expect to see an increase in the usage of these technologies within the industry throughout the year.
2. AR & VR in Education
The COVID-19 pandemic moved students out of the classroom, and into the digital world of remote education. Gone are the days of the traditional learning format with a professor standing in front a lecture hall, speaking for multiple hours. In 2022 more than ever, universities are embracing a hybrid model of learning that includes both physical and virtual education.
AR and VR provide new and engaging ways for students to learn, which is why many schools are looking to these technologies to improve access to education, both from a standpoint of helping students with learning disabilities, as well as, making learning less location dependent.
Some of the universities utilizing this technology are the University of St. Augustine, and the Columbia College of Music. The University of St. Augustine utilizes VR for its Health Sciences classes. These classes use cadavers to study the human body, but more and more cadavers are being replaced by digital models in virtual simulations. The user is able to see and manipulate every part of the human body using a life-like, virtual dissection table.
During the pandemic, the Columbia College of Music in Chicago outfitted students with Virtual Reality headsets since they could not work together to create music, dances, and performances. With VR, students were able to collaborate virtually. Live performances became digital, and students were able to use these technologies to learn and engage in a meaningful way.
This hybrid model of virtual and physical learning will only become more normalized in our society, as remote work and learning opportunities grow, and as more universities continue to invest into digital technologies like AR & VR.
3. AR & VR for Training
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, workforces were required to change the ways in which they operate. A significant number of employees began working remotely, causing companies to re-evaluate how they educate and train new hires.
Companies looked to AR and VR applications as a means of adapting to the pandemic. As we all continue to adjust to our new normal; businesses are continuing to embrace these digital technologies and applications as a more effective training solution compared to traditional methods.
AR and VR allow for remote, virtual learning. Virtual simulations are used to mimic real-life training scenarios and are a great substitute for in-person training. This is especially great for high-risk training. AR/VR provide a safe learning environment in which trainees can gain a thorough understanding of the procedures involved in task completion, while also eliminating any of the real-world risks that may be associated with in-person training.
With Augmented Reality specifically, work instruction are able to overlayed on top of the physical world. This creates a whole new way for workers to learn how to correctly interact with the objects in front of them, whilst also being guided step-by-step by the digital instructions displayed in their field of view.
Aerospace company Boeing, utilizes Augmented Reality to better train their technicians on installing the electrical wiring on aircrafts—a complex task that leaves no margin for error. Interactive 3D wiring diagrams are displayed in front of the technician, allowing them to easily see where the electrical wiring goes in the aircraft fuselage. A process that once involved technicians interpreting a two-dimensional, twenty-foot-long drawing, and then attempting to wire it, has now been completely transformed into a more efficient, productive, process by leveraging AR. According to Boeing, the results of these AR implementations have shown a 90 percent improvement in first-time quality, as well as a 30 percent reduction in time spent doing the job.
4. AI with AR & VR
One of the main requirements for AR is the ability to precisely overlay a digital hologram onto the physical world.
The on-device object tracking systems most used today utilize 2D image and/or marker-based tracking. This type of tracking limits overlay accuracy in 3D because 2D tracking is unable to estimate depth with high levels of accuracy. This means that as users move around a model, the model might match and look good from one angle, but from another angle, the overlay may lose alignment and be out of position.
Enterprises are leveraging AI technology with 3D environments to overcome these problems. Mixed Reality (MR) is seen as the blend between the physical and digital world, where data is shared between both AR & VR devices to create a hybrid experience.
MR requires a precise and consistent fusion of the physical and virtual worlds, which means that digital models must be rendered in photorealistic detail, rendered with the correct scale and at the correct physical location, with respect to the real and virtual environment. This can be difficult to do in the precise manner that is required, which is why enterprises are leveraging 3D environments and AI technology into their mixed reality design projects.
Using deep learning-based AI with 3D environments allows users to identify 3D objects, of any shape and size with multiple orientations, with high accuracy in the physical space. Utilizing AI in this manner can be greatly beneficial if the digital holograms need to be overlayed in an absolutely precise manner, for instance, the electrical wiring diagram for a Boeing jet.
As Artificial Intelligence becomes more integrated with 3D technologies like AR & VR, we will see the beginnings of true Mixed Reality, where the line begins to blur between the digital world and the physical.
5. AR in Auto Industries
Tesla Motors has shown how innovative AR technology can be since it is such a huge component of a Tesla car. You might not think of Tesla as an AR company right away because there are no physical headset displays, but Tesla utilizes nearly identical technologies you would see with an AR smartphone application, in their cars.
A typical Tesla car has a suite of cameras that are constantly analyzing the world around them using object recognition and scene analysis. Users get an indication of this when looking at the vehicle’s display, where a tiny model of the car and its position relative to the objects around it can be seen.
Heads Up Displays (HUD) for cars and augmented reality, is a combination that many see in our future. One concept is wearing an AR headset that gives drivers safety and road information without obstructing the view of the driver. Other ideas being tested involve eye tracking rather than a headset, and instead of digital models projected on a glass surface, the car would instead give auditory reminders.
Volvo is testing the concept of driving while wearing a mixed reality headset—where the headset has both AR & VR functionality—and has been used as a proof-of-concept that would help drivers practice safe driving. The headset truly makes it very hard to distinguish between what is real and what is a digital model. Digital models of objects are placed on the road as obstacles to help drivers learn how to respond, without the risk of having an object being present.
AR is also being used as a marketing and sales tool to help sell cars while users are at home. One can spawn a 3D model of a car right in front of them with their smartphone, and they can then inspect the vehicle, as well as change the color of the car.
Aside from doing a test drive, one no longer needs to go to a dealership to check out a car so long as they have a smartphone.
Augmented and Virtual Reality are on the rise as promising, innovative technologies with the capability to completely disrupt industries, and redefine our relationship with digital information.
Industries such as Healthcare and Education are making a strong commitment to AR/VR. These digital tools provide many solutions to various problems within the healthcare system, from medical training, to improving patient experience. Universities are seeing the value in the hybrid model of learning and are democratizing these technologies so that students have easier access to them.
Artificial Intelligence is becoming leveraged more with AR & VR, making Mixed Reality a potentially common environment that humanity will experience. You are seeing glimpses of this reality when looking at technologies like a Tesla car, or the Volvo Varjo XR-1 headset, where the digital world and physical world are joining together.
The future is very bright for these technologies, especially as the hardware and software continue to mature and develop. This is placing greater demand for AR & VR developers, as applications are necessary to leverage the power of the technology.
If you are interested in Augmented and Virtual Reality application development services, then you have come to the right place.
Comhar Technology Group is team of expert AR/VR application developers, dedicated to helping our clients get the best out of these technologies. We specialize in application development for highly regulated industries such as Biopharmaceuticals.
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