5 sectors embracing AR and VR - other than construction
Virtual and augmented reality has been achieving steady growth in construction over the past few years, but it is not the only sector where adoption of the technology is on the rise.
by Adam Savage
The benefits of AR and VR are now being realised and exploited across numerous professions. Whether it’s for product design or education, stakeholder interaction or maintenance, many uses are being found and more are being discovered all the time.
To the show that the industrial applications of the tech are not limited to just the built environment, we have picked out some examples of where it is proving advantageous elsewhere.
AR and VR are helping to significantly improve the efficiency of key processes at some manufacturers, and is part of a wider digital revolution movement that also includes technologies such as advanced robotics and 3D printing. According to a survey from PwC in the US, it is at present most commonly used for product design and development, as well as safety and skills training.
But in the coming years it is expected to become a popular tool for jobs like complex assembly (giving the user all the information they could possibly need within their eye line and hands-free without having to leave their workstation and check something on a computer, for example) and remote support (allowing the wearer to instantly collaborate with an expert without them having to travel there in person).
With virtual reality, developers can enable potential buyers to visualise the property in precise detail, viewing it in a far more engaging way than through more traditional means – usually just photographs/videos and floorplans.
By giving them access to virtual tours of the building, real estate professionals can give their clients more confidence that they are making the right decision if, for example, they’re looking to purchase a home that is yet to be built and there is no physical product yet to show them.
It can save time for both the customer and the marketer by allowing a virtual viewing as a ‘first look’, cutting down on possible wasted journeys that occur when client has only been able to see a handful of low-quality pictures and nothing else.
Another sector where companies are trialling the idea of having people try something out before they experience it in the real world is transport. Virtual reality is now being seen as an excellent tool for building 3D prototypes of vehicles, which before would have either had to be physically built at great cost or exist only as 2D concept drawings. With VR, manufacturers can instead construct an immersive model of the car and achieve quality engagement with their target clientele to gauge their reaction before deciding whether to develop it for real.
And for the organisations responsible for designing major transport hubs such as train stations and airports, with VR they could lower the risk of expensive real-world failures by letting travellers navigate their way around a 3D mock-up of a terminal or platform, identifying problems and gathering feedback before huge sums are spent on the actual project.
Immersive technology is increasingly being employed to improve outcomes for both providers and patients in the healthcare space.
VR is becoming an excellent tool for trainee surgeons to learn with. One healthcare start-up, called Medical Realities, became the first company in the world to successfully host a livestream of a real surgery, which was watched live by approximately 50,000 people. What better way to learn a procedure than by seeing it done in real-time literally through the eyes of the expert, and you don’t even need to leave your house?
On the treatment side, some services are experimenting with VR as a form of pain management. By enabling the patient to immerse themselves in a virtual world, it can help them relax and divert their thoughts away from their problems and towards what they’re experiencing in the game or program they’re interacting with.
With children already so attached to and familiar with mobile devices such as smartphones and games consoles, it’s easy to see why VR and AR is predicted to transform education.
The possibilities are virtually limitless. For example, interacting with a full 3D model of an Egyptian tomb or a World War Two trench would be far more appealing to a young person than just reading about them in a textbook.
Some museums are also experimenting with augmented reality as a way of getting visitors to use their own devices to discover more information about what’s on display. By hovering their phone or tablet over an exhibit, they could be shown a moving animation, some more facts, or maybe some accompanying audio.
These are just some of the examples currently being tested and put to use all over the world, and as the technology continues to improve and become more accessible, we can expect to see an even broader spectrum of applications in years to come.