Virtual reality has been around for some years now, mainly in military or scientific roles with the primary goal of saving money with regard to building ‘real world’ reality such as battlefield scenarios, engineering models or for safety, especially when we consider flight simulator systems in which is the area of VR and AR springs to mind, with the general public at least. Ever since Nintendo released Pokemon Go a couple of years back the world experienced its first (and highly successful) augmented reality application, overlaying the digital world on that of the real world we see around us. Apart from Nintendo’s stock value rising over $7 billion just after the craze became embedded on kids mobile devices, other companies realised that it’s ideal for more than just gaming.
Microsoft at this time seems to be the leader in professional AR systems with HoloLens, and its use today is very much embedded in bluechip manufacturing and scientific companies, saving critical budgets and at the same time producing faster turnarounds from prototyping to commercially viable designs.
Indeed that’s what it is all about for commercial customers. Apart from saving on prototyping, i.e. engine concepts, civil engineering structures or the next generation aircraft, without physical prototyping, many layers of development can be reduced or removed altogether. If one company starts to do this, then it’s logical that other companies will follow suit, otherwise they will be left behind from concept to a saleable solution.
But it’s not just the likes of Boeing or Tesla that find these devices so invaluable. Smaller companies with much smaller budgets are using AR for creating everything from sofas to designing conservatories for residential customers. Indeed on the subject of conservatories, I know of one replacement window company that will design a ‘digital’ conservatory and overlay it on the customers house and show the customer how it looks, creating walkthroughs and allowing them to wear an AR headset so they can see it for themselves, even in different seasons.
For the PC market as a whole I see both AR and VR as a great opportunity for the next ‘big thing’ for our industry. At this moment in time, yes there are some VR solutions, however they are on the whole expensive and generally need a powerful system to be hooked for it to work. If vendors can move to an untethered solution, maybe independent on any PC or hardware and be priced so the general public can afford it then I think both AR and VR will be the next technological revolution that covers almost all market sectors.