VR, MR, AR & 360°: Experience the future, today!

While some still see Artificial Reality, Virtual Reality and 360° as technologies reserved only for hardcore gamers and digital marketing agencies, many other industries have noticed the transformational potential of these technologies in their everyday business.

As the technology becomes more affordable and user-friendly, a number of start-ups have started developing new use cases far beyond gaming and marketing – applying the technologies to everything from sports, news and human resources to healthcare, space exploration and more.

Augmented Reality (AR) uses artificial elements to a live view, typically using a smartphone’s camera. Unlike Pokemon Go which is a typical example of AR, Virtual Reality (VR) locks out the physical world completely by offering a fully virtual experience. A Mixed Reality (MR) experience combines the best of two worlds, physical and virtual, and makes them interact.

Here are seven industries which the technologies have started to transform. And while the boundaries between virtual and physical world are becoming blurred, we also explore a set of completely new ethical challenges that these technologies bring such as issues of access, privacy, consent and more.

News

Soon after social media became a vital part of our everyday lives, fake news started spreading like wildfire and the credibility of the news industry soon became questionable, to say the least. More and more people started to double-check and question every link, every video and every news article they read. This questioning of news exploded when first examples of manipulated videos went viral.

Now, the news industry is starting to use new technologies such as VR and 360° to regain their credibility by putting a feeling of participation in their viewer’s minds. Luckily, the media and news industry were always a front runner in the adoption of new technologies so it is safe to say there will be more and more AR and VR-powered news that we will be able to experience as in the first-person mode.

Human resources

As Generation Z has entered the workforce, it is becoming essential for HR departments to keep up with the latest technology trends.

VR applications can be used to provide an initial screening process for hands-on positions by allowing job applicants to see their future workplace and experience the position they applied for. If they are a match, this will make them even more enthusiastic and if they are not, they will realize this early on saving time both for the company and for themselves. One such example is Lloyds Bank where a custom VR scenario is used during the interview process to assess on-the-job skills more thoroughly that it can be done through traditional interviews.

Education

AR and VR are quickly making their way into schools and colleges. Technologies such as these have already proven themselves to be a very powerful teaching tool for large groups of students with limited resources. Professors now have the ability to use Google Earth and Google Expeditions take their students practically anywhere without even leaving their classroom. Additionally, with the help of Android VR, social learning is spreading to classrooms all over the world and giving kids access to various interactive adventures.

Space exploration

Project OnSight which was presented last year at Kennedy Space Center, is a clear example of the advantages of collaborating in a virtual world. OnSight is virtual reconstruction of Mars in which scientists may collaborate together and set course for Mars Rover. Additionally, geologists were able to define distances and angles on the Mars surface much more precisely. With Project OnSight already implemented by NASA in their Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it is safe to assume that within the next five-years VR will be used to shed a light of space travel not only to astronomy and physics students but also to the general public.

Travel and driving

Although it will take a few more years before we see fully autonomous cars on our streets, car manufacturers are already using various AI technologies in their cars. For example, most major manufacturers are starting to implement voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri.

Additionally, AR is also playing a major role in the automotive industry with Nvidia´s Drive AI platform. The platform is actually a dashboard display which shows camera footage around the car, including everything from dangerous situations to historical landmarks on the way. Furthermore, most car manufacturers are using powerful face tracking technologies for drowsiness detection.

Similarly, travel companies are using AR and VR to create libraries of virtual travel media that show various locations from different angles making the user feel as they are already there. 

Healthcare

Just like the IoT, AR and VR have found their way into the healthcare industry.

AR is now being used to redefine the way how surgeons perform their surgeries. With precision being the most important thing during every surgery, surgeons are now using AR and 3D visualization to look at organs from different angles in real-time.

On the other hand, VR is helping patients with different phobias. One example is helping patients that have fear of flying where they are placed in a controlled virtual environment and slowly guided to face their fears. 

Sports

Being one step ahead of the competition is a crucial part of every sport and many are starting to turn to new technologies such as VR and AR to give them that competitive edge. What’s more, research conducted by Deloitte has shown that the sport industry is investing more and more resources in these technologies to give their fans the feeling of on-field action.

And while VR applications are improving fans’ experience at home, AR applications are improving the experience for fans in stadiums by giving them real-time statistics about athletes on the field and telling them where their friends are sitting.

Ethical challenges

As these complex technologies start to become omnipresent, they disrupt established practices not only in different industries but in our society. New ethical challenges, from privacy and consent issues to future concerns that are yet to be discovered, need to be addressed. 

Since the law is most often reactive especially when it comes to technological advances, the best approach to take now is to rely on our long-lasting principles in the physical world. For example, as harassment issues start to migrate from social media to virtual platforms, they should carry the same weight they have in real life. 

From the privacy point of view, it is safe to expect that providers of various virtual platforms will try to extend their reach far beyond the traditional privacy boundaries. And although GDPR is a giant leap forward in terms of protecting our privacy, this is just the beginning.

As we continue moving more and more from physical to virtual, we will come across many new ethical challenges for which we will need to develop practices and policies that will protect not only our privacy but our identity, as well.

 

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