In 2018, IDC forecasted investment in VR and AR to reach around 20 billion dollars by 2022 and that both technologies will be key to companies' digital transformation plans. Big technology companies were indeed working hard on the development of headsets (and still do) that can function without cables and allow images to be seen in HD: VR headsets in 8K with much more powerful processors. There is even talk that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be more and more integrate and the latest 5G standard will provide very interesting scenarios for the evolution of VR. For sure, this standard will allow more devices and large user communities to be connected, but most importantly, consumers will receive images in real time, almost as if they were seeing them with their own eyes, thanks to the latest 5G technology.
Summarizing again the advantages of VR, AR, and MR before giving some innovative use scenarios makes sense to understand the capability of the new technologies much better, so here we go:
Virtual Reality (VR) describes a completely computer-generated environment without real elements. The physical reality is completely hidden. This means that the user immerses himself in a new world and feels physically present in this simulated, digital world. With the help of VR headsets, users can interact with the virtual world through intuitive hand and finger gestures, to move in it and to experience it from all sides. Virtual Reality (VR) thus creates an artificial reality that can feel very real. VR cannot replace real interaction and communication in the same way, but it opens the door to spaces, information, and experiences that are only reserved for a few people.
Augmented Reality (AR) extends real space and brings the virtual world into reality. Instead of transporting the user to a completely virtual environment, digital objects are embedded in the real world. This means that the user perceives the physical reality, which is enriched or expanded with digital information. With the help of wearables, such as data glasses and smartwatch, it is possible for graphics, videos, or texts etc. to be shown in real time in the real environment. This allows users to see both actual and virtual objects in front of their eyes.
Mixed Reality (MR) as a generic term is best described with Milgram's reality-virtuality continuum.
Accordingly, MR spans the entire area between real and virtual reality. It measures the entire continuum, excluding the two extreme points, and includes all possible variations and combinations of real and virtual objects. This also explains why the three terms virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality cannot be easily distinguished from one another.
Since in MR, real and virtual objects are combined with one another, the question from which degree of virtuality you can still speak of augmented reality or already of augmented virtuality is important.
- MR based on the virtual world (augmented virtuality) means real elements (objects or people) are faded into a primarily virtual world.
- MR based on the real world (augmented reality) means the real world is in the foreground and virtual elements are added, for example by projecting videos, graphics, or GPS data into the real environment.
Iberdrola, a leader in sustainable innovations, is convinced that “a new wave of innovation is coming, which will not only change what we do, but who we are”, but who we are”, emphasizing that “the future will be defined by people who are capable of adopting new ways of working, sharing and collaborating.”
“Virtual Reality is no longer science fiction. It is integrated into our present and, in the coming years, it will lead to advances that will shape the future,” Iberdrola states, substantiating the predication with a list of innovative use scenarios for VR as seen below:
By Daniela La Marca