Virtual reality and artificial reality have potential, and with the new developments in the last few years, we already see the technology as a regular thing. Ten or twenty years ago, you could only have VR experiences in amusement parks or specialized attractions. But now anyone can buy a headset and experience it from the comfort of their home. Here is how VR and AR are impacting in different industries.
Pretty simple—virtual reality is immersing yourself in a completely artificial and virtual world. It is created on a computer for people to enjoy. Software engineers make this possible by taking over two of our senses: sight and hearing. Virtual reality headsets take over our sight and hearing and trick our brains into feeling like it is a real world even when we clearly see it is fake.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, enhances our world with some virtual aspects. We can experience it using a headset or just looking through our smartphone's camera. You can suddenly see your living room like a dinosaur museum and see an enormous skeleton in the middle of your kitchen.
This technology has grown a lot in the last decade; it came from almost nothing to becoming an everyday gadget people can have at their home. Plus, let's not forget that nearly every smartphone nowadays can become an VR or AR device. They are making it an affordable experience for many people.
It makes total sense to train a pilot with VR instead of risking their life and a million dollar plane. But this is now also being used to train law enforcement officials to learn to respond to high-risk situations without any danger to them. And the healthcare industry is also using VR/AR to teach their students without risking any human lives. They can simulate risky operations for doctors and residents to practice before the real deal.
In the retail industry, many big companies already offer apps with AR. Users can use their smartphones to try out clothes and other products on themselves virtually. This trend has only grown with the Covid-19 pandemic. Many e-commerce businesses see the value of offering virtual reality experiences for their customers.
You can visit the store in a virtual world and try out anything you want without risking infection. Stores can offer different experiences like virtual dressing rooms, walking through their inventory, and creating 3D maps of their bodies to accurately try out clothes.
Ikea, for example, offers an AR experience where customers can see a 3D preview of the furniture they choose with their phones. Lowe's also offers a VR experience in their physical stores where customers can try out different tools if they aren't too confident before buying. Imagine how far it could go in the near future with more developments to come.
This is an industry that could change a lot with the implementation of virtual reality. We could reach the ultimate cinematic experience where the audience blends with the movie—you will be able to experience movies or series like you are in them.
Film directors are already experimenting with these concepts, where they have to create a 3D space for their storytelling. Although the technology hasn't come that far, you can create virtual theaters to watch films and customize it to your liking.
In the case of entertainment, gaming is one of the more famous uses for VR/AR technology. You probably have heard of Pokemon Go, a viral AR game for smartphones. And many companies already offer dedicated headsets for gaming that come with over 100 game options for you to enjoy.
Art is another industry that is starting to use VR/AR technology to enhance the experience. Artists can transform their 2D paintings into completely immersive worlds. They can create 3D paintings with a headset and pictures that come to life when looking through a phone's camera.
This increased with the Covid-19 pandemic, where tons of museums had to close. These institutions have started offering VR experiences where users can visit their installations using virtual reality. It is another tool that allows creators to make unique art pieces like never before. For art galleries and museums, it enables them to enhance the visitor experience and bring the art pieces to life.
Virtual and augmented reality could have many implications for our future. But like any other technology, it can be a tool that we take for an advantage, an escape, or something that only isolates us. The technology has already changed industries like retail, education, film, entertainment, and art.
However, VR/AR hasn't become mainstream yet. You cannot see it in every store you go to. But each year, the number of companies adopting the technology and offering new experiences is increasing.