Reality Bytes

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are enhancing productivity and customer satisfaction across all industries, explains Beth Williams.
AR and VR are changing the way businesses operate. Gaming has led the way in the use of VR, much to the delight of dedicated gamers; however there are few if any businesses that cannot benefit from AR and VR. The altered or alternative realities that AR and VR provide instantly add additional information across multiple applications. Applications can include aiding healthcare professionals as they treat patients, manufacturing employees as they fix essential equipment and educators as they instruct today’s students.
 
man in track suit wearing VR headset standing on tennis court

AR and VR Basics

Augmented reality uses digital technology to enhance reality, often by using projection or superimposition. Instead of looking away to find navigation instructions or repair steps, users willsee them layered onto the real object or landscape in front of them. Virtual reality differs from AR because it is a computer-generated environment that allows an individual to interact with and alter it. Users become a part of this digital scene.
 

Healthcare

AR is already improving outcomes in health care by allowing doctors in isolated areas to receive help from colleagues living around the world. Specific software applications, including Proximie, developed in the UK by National Health Service surgeon, Nadine Hachach, and engineer Talal Ali Ahmad, enable surgeons to get the real -time information they need in their visual field to guide them during various procedures.
 
That AR help, along with guidance from experienced surgeons, means that isolated patients can get the type of advanced procedures that patients in more urban areas can.
Patients can also use AR to help themselves. If they are in physical rehabilitation, for instance, AR programs can show them how to properly perform exercise motions while they are doing them. This application means that patients don’t need a physical therapist constantly by their side to improve.
 

Automotive

The automotive industry has already embraced AR as a feature for their vehicles and as a maintenance tool. Hyundai, in conjunction with WayRay Unveil, has debuted the world’s first holographic AR navigation system in the Genesis G80. This system
visually guides the driver to their destination by projecting hologram signs and signals on the windshield.
 
Volkswagen has developed the MARTA AR system, which allows technicians to see the steps necessary to repair highly complex automobiles rather than attempt to decipher complicated instruction manuals. When a technician uses MARTA, the system orients to the technician’s position with respect to the vehicle and then guides the tech through each work step. MARTA minimizes mistakes and improves job speed, which leads to higher levels of customer service.
 

Retail

Augmented reality and interaction in the retail experience provide an extremely high level of customer engagement. Consumers can interact with various products from the comfort of their own home and get a sense of how those particular items will work for them. Some big box companies, such as IKEA, use AR to let potential customers create and decorate their own space using a room’s actual dimensions. Shoppers no longer have to buy products based on 2-dimensional images or even basic 3-D figures. With AR, they get a shopping experience that is better than an in-person trip since they can visually transport the item into their space or check for colours, sizes, or prices. Retailers using AR are also creating an experience for consumers that is more memorable and more engaging than other digital channels making for a richer experience.

Education and Culture

London based, Dream Reality Interactive will soon release a VR program ‘Hold the World’ (commissioned by SKY VR Studio) that will take users on a VR guided tour of the Natural History Museum led by the esteemed Sir David Attenborough. The tour allows participants to be immersed in exhibits that are usually closed to the public. They will be able to handle artifacts virtually and use them in a way that actual visitors to the museum would not be able to do. This type of software will allow many to have elevated educational and cultural experiences. While VR does not replace going to the Natural History Museum, it offers unique benefits and access to the public. People who live far from cultural centres can now receive these enriching educational benefits along with those who have the means to experience the museum first hand. In many instances, AR and VR technologies help companies thrive and create better access to products and services. The public has only just begun to see how these technologies can change
the world. 

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