Business consultants see a bright future for Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Numerous IT companies and startups are eager for a piece of the pie and are working on a wide array of solutions. And indeed, there appear to be no limits on the commercial benefits attached to using VR and AR.
Virtual Reality (VR) is somewhat of a sleeping giant among modern technologies. VR has existed for almost a half a century now, but the innovation has never succeeded in breaking through commercially. That appears to be changing. Supplemented by Augmented Reality (AR), VR seems destined for great things. It appears primed to impact almost all areas of science and society.
Many people use the buzzword "Virtual Reality" as a bit of a catch-all term, even when they are in fact referring to "Augmented Reality." The two technologies are actually significantly different. VR involves fully immersive computer simulations. AR by contrast projects artificial elements that onto real-life surroundings. Reality thus becomes an interactive environment.
The technologies are used in accordingly different fields of application. AR has long since been available for the general public, in countless smartphone apps. Most of us have probably encountered Augmented Reality without even realizing it. Anyone who's ever hunted a Pokémon on the street or "decorated" a selfie with a dog face has worked with the underlying principle.
VR is more common in a professional context, typically in highly technical fields. Doctors train for operations, auto makers simplify construction designs and forensic analysts create simulations that recreate crime scenes. Now an increasing number of VR devices are appearing on the end consumer market. If they succeed, this formerly niche market may become popular with the mainstream — and lucrative.
eBay, Facebook, Google, Sony: A veritable Who's Who of the tech world are working feverishly on new VR technologies. eBay for example has launched 'Sight Search,' the world's first purely virtual store in which customers can use special goggles to explore products they find interesting. Facebook for its part hopes to bring "Social Virtual Reality" to the masses. And Google VR allows users to explore real places as part of an immerse digital experience.
These companies unquestionably have the global reach and pull to make VR innovations into a mainstream success. In this regard, virtual reality may change the way in which we buy things, connect to others and perceive the world. Experts believe that VR might well dominate as PCs once did before smartphones and tablets arrived.