Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have already convinced a great many people of the potential underlying these new technologies. Both VR and AR can have a significant impact on both individuals and society as a whole, fundamentally challenging what is seen as the norm today in the same way that the smartphone, television or printing press have previously done. All it takes is software developers using the hardware to strive for something new.
Despite this however, it seems that those with early access to the technology are being hemmed-in by a fear of the unknown. It’s commonly thought that entertainment will drive the way for both immersive mediums, and this is largely to do with the early adopters coming from a videogame standpoint. However, there’s much more to both AR and VR than shooting bad guys and journeying through space; with many avenues almost completely unexplored.
Below VRFocus has highlighted just a few of the areas in which immersive technologies such as AR and VR can have a genuine impact on the way we lead our daily lives, each of which are currently only being explored to a very limited degree.
Education is perhaps one of the easiest avenues of opportunities for consumers to understand the positive impact of AR and VR. Being able to place children into a space that even today they’re reliant on textbooks in order to learn about could be revolutionary for the understanding of ancient civilisations, human biology or different cultures. There are a number of applications that offer this kind of experience already – Unimersiv and Curiscope’s Virtuali-Tee being just two examples – but still the adoption rate of these technologies by schools and private organisations fails to instigate any kind of recognisable demand.
Perhaps AR and VR need to stabilise their hardware offerings before such institutions – especially those reliant on government funding – will invest. Spending a significant amount of budget on technology that will be outdated within a year is not considered a wise move; at the same time however, there needs to be an end user to warrant a developer to produce such software.
There have been a number of VR and AR applications developed specifically to assist exercise, with the likes of VirZOOM offering an immediate solution and San Fransisco based RE:NEW collating workout applications in a handy portal. However, there’s far more to AR and VR then simply working out; the possibility to learn what types of exercise would be good for you as an individual and exactly how to perform routines you may not be familiar with is arguably a greater good.
Generic workout activities such as riding a bike and running are all well-and-good, but a more personally tailored solution would benefit far more people without the need of a gym subscription or the potential intimidation of hiring a personal trainer.
Arguably a culmination of what both education and healthcare could offer, an insight into what people eat that reaches further than the back of a plastic packet designed by the manufacturer would certainly be of use. It’s all too common for food to be misrepresented by advertisements and packaging, and that which is proposed as a ‘healthy’ snack could be anything but. An AR application that gets to the root of a product, building on the basics seen in applications such as Fruitness AR by analysing the ingredients and their quantities – plus any additives, preservatives, colouring agents or flavourings – would be a simple application to develop and could well offer people a more open and honest discussion about the food we find on supermarket shelves.
In the introduction of this article I stated that AR and VR could be more ‘than shooting bad guys and journeying through space’. This is true, but also so is the importance of release. The daily lives of many people across the globe are enriched by entertainment – be it socialising, escapism or something in between – and both AR and VR have the opportunity to revolutionise the ways in which we do this.
It’s arguably here that immersive technologies have made their biggest plays so far. Applications like Facebook Spaces and vTime have made small but noticeable pushes towards socialising in a virtual space, whilst the likes of Pokemon Go and Tilt Brush have offered entertainment experiences unlike anything that’s gone before. But these are the exception and not the rule. Developers need to start striving to achieve new forms of entertainment in AR and VR now, opposed to just adapting the mechanics from videogames and movies into a new format.
What role could AR or VR play in sex? Well, aside from the many adult entertainment applications already available – ranging from pornography to ‘waifu simulators’ – there’s actually room for a more collaborative interpretation.
Along the lines of education, though strictly targeted at adults of course, an AR application that would help define sensitive parts of the body and erogenous zones would take a great deal of the trial-and-error out of attempting to please your partner (or partners, if you’re so inclined) removing several layers of potential embarrassment; from that of education during youth to performance anxiety. Furthermore, this would give people the ability to share with their lover (or, again, lovers) intimate details of what they as individuals find pleasing opposed to a textbook assignation of a pleasure area. After all, everyone is different, and an AR application designed for individuality will bring far greater enjoyment than a one-size-fits-all interpretation.