Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have grown incredibly popular in recent years. Thanks to improved technology, increased comfortability, and greater affordability, AR and VR products have garnered record-breaking sales figures, ushering in a new age of digital interactivity.
From the much-discussed metaverse to the rise of online casino games, we’ve found a veritable plethora of uses for AR and VR outside of gaming and social connection. These technologies are also being implemented in several key sectors, such as military training, flight school, and medical practices.
With so many industries affected by these technologies, how will AR and VR devices affect the future? We can explore several potential avenues, the majority of which can be separated into three broad categories; namely recreational tech, social tech, and occupational tech.
Before we dive into those, let’s establish what exactly the differences between AR and VR are. Many people struggle to understand the nuance between AR and VR, let alone what mixed reality (XR) is. We’ll need to understand the fundamentals if we want to explore the future of these revolutionary technologies.
AR vs VR
Although AR and VR both use similar underlying technology, they serve entirely different purposes. By definition, AR superimposes virtual elements on a real-world environment, using your surroundings to augment (or remove) elements of the environment. On the other hand, VR is a completely virtual experience, transporting its users to an entirely virtual reality.
To put it as simply as possible, if you want to escape from the real world for a bit, VR is the way to go. While still holding an element of escapism, AR is far more useful as a functional tool for daily living. What we mean by that is AR has more potential applications for work rather than for play.
We also briefly mentioned XR earlier. XR is the umbrella term for both AR and VR. It covers any forms of alternate reality tech and further cements the fact that AR and VR are two sides of the same coin.
Now that we’ve defined AR, VR, and XR, it’s time to explore what the future of these technologies might look like, starting with the first of our three aforementioned categories; occupational tech.
As remote work continues to grow in popularity, many companies are looking to VR to solve many of the downsides of isolation. In order to create meaningful interactions, various studies have shown that an in-person conversation is far more beneficial than emails, instant messaging, and other forms of modern communication.
Thanks to their capacity for simulation-based education, AR and VR are gaining a lot of traction as highly effective training tools. From logistics training to military sims, safety training to medical occupations, many industries are steadily adopting several XR-related technologies.
The potential occupational applications for AR are as numerous as they are diverse. Although VR gadgets currently dominate the XR market in terms of sales, it’s likely that AR devices will soon catch up to them due to the rapid rise of remote work. Couple that with their increased affordability, and the future is certainly looking bright for AR and VR.
Video games and social connectivity are two significant influencers behind the development of XR tech. In many ways, video games are the pinnacle of alternate reality, leading from the front in terms of graphics, innovation, and overall fidelity.
We can see and hear in VR, but what if we could feel the environment, smell the rain, or feel the wind on our skin? Such possibilities are fast becoming a reality, with several prototypes and pioneering products well on their way to mass-market appeal.
From haptic feedback to VR treadmills, full-body tracking and unrestricted simulation will soon change how we play video games. In terms of spatial limitations, treadmills eliminate the boundaries of a physical environment. Haptic feedback and body tracking will allow us to completely immerse ourselves in the interactive escapism of the world’s most ubiquitous entertainment medium.
If the metaverse and other virtual social hubs are as revolutionary as we all hope they’ll be, it’s not an exaggeration to say that they have the potential to change life as we know it. Whether it’s our social interactions or work-related tasks, these XR technologies will affect almost all facets of daily life.
With their increased affordability and improved ergonomics, XR devices are steadily gaining appeal as must-have items. Who knows, we may well treat them as common household items in the future. Only time will tell.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to accurately predict where these breakthroughs will lead. For many of us, XR represents a new frontier of digital technology – an unexplored landscape filled with endless possibilities. However, if there’s one thing that’s clear as day, the future of AR and VR is only getting started.