Gartner Trend No. 4: Virtual & Augmented RealityThey say that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) transform the way individuals interact with each other and with software systems, creating an immersive environment. For example, VR can be used for training scenarios and remote experiences. AR, which enables a blending of the real and virtual worlds, allows businesses to overlay graphics onto real-world objects, such as hidden wires on the image of a wall. Immersive experiences with AR and VR are reaching tipping points in terms of price and capability but will not replace other interface models. Over time, AR and VR will expand beyond visual immersion to include all human senses. Enterprises should look for targeted applications of VR and AR through 2020.OK, but what is this virtual/augmented/mixed reality all about?
- Virtual reality is the umbrella term for all immersive experiences, which could be created using purely real-world content, purely synthetic content or a hybrid of both.
- Augmented reality is an overlay of content on the real world, but that content is not anchored to or part of it. The real-world content and the computer-generated content are not able to respond to each other.
- Mixed reality is an overlay of synthetic content on the real world that is anchored to and interacts with the real world – picture surgeons overlaying virtual ultrasound images on their patient while performing an operation, for example. The key characteristic of MR is that the synthetic content and the real-world content are able to react to each other in real time.
The Qubiz-enhanced realityAt Qubiz we are always on the lookout of new technologies that brings value to our customers. And VR/AR/MR is one of them.We can picture the following applications for our customers:
Remote instructionsImagine getting step-by-step instructions on things like home repair from an expert. Visual diagrams would actually show up in space around the user indicating exactly what you need to do next. This application could even extend to the battlefield, where detailed medical instructions could be given to untrained personnel in the midst of combat.
Sales demonstrationsPresent the latest type of machine your factory manufactures in 3D, live in operation, in front of your prospect and give them a memorable experience on what the machine is built for and can do for them.
3D manual always at handOperating (complex) machines often require detailed manuals, schematic diagrams and instruction videos. By using AR devices (like HoloLens or Google Glasses), the manual is at your fingertips – just make the right gesture and the instructions are presented live in 3D on the machine your are operating or repairing.
3D computer-aided designImagine building a 3D model of pretty much anything you can imagine in the physical space around you. It’s similar to what’s seen in the movie Iron Man as Tony Stark interacts with holographic objects to build his devices. It’s also one of the ideas that has captured the imagination of many when it comes to a device like HoloLens.
DecoratingAR devices can be used inside your home or office. One way it can be helpful is by visualising how new decorations would look in your house. No more trying to picture how that new paint colour for your wall will go with your new couch; you’d actually be able to see it projected holographically and make the best decision for your living space. And instead of awkwardly holding a picture up while trying to gauge how it looks in a certain location, your AR device can show you exactly how it will look placed in any location!Among the technologies we use at Qubiz to develop VR/AR/MR applications you can find:
- HoloLens - a pair of MR smartglasses developed by Microsoft that uses natural commands as interface. We're currently using this technology to find better ways to provide customer support remotely.
- Google Glass - an eyeglasses-shaped optical head-mounted display that can be operated via natural language interface. They're fairly inconspicuous and can be worn all the time.
- Vuforia VuMark - an augmented reality software development kit for mobile devices that we've been using for some years to develop augmented reality mobile apps. Vuforia's VuMark is a barcode that acts as a AR target which can be used together with the HoloLens or any other number of devices.
- Unity3D - a cross-platform game engine that we used to build AR mobile apps as well as enterprise applications (such as building a warehouse's 3D model from the database and vice versa).