On 14 April 2016, the world witnessed the first Virtual Reality (VR) operation streaming live from London. The VR-led experience made viewers feel as if they were standing at the edge of the operating table. Apart from being a unique experience for normal viewers, it was useful for medical practitioners and students to immerse themselves in real-time.
As the world moves towards adopting Industry 4.0, it is pertinent that Augmented Reality (AR) and VR are here to stay and revolutionise the way industry functions. AR and VR are being widely experimented with in the field of health, education, space, and manufacturing, among others.
AR/VR is changing the manufacturing sector in a big way. Various automotive companies have started using AR/VR technologies to cut the duration between initial design and physical modelling. The technology will enhance the remote troubleshooting experience, project execution, monitoring, system maintenance, etc. It reduces logistics costs and time to repair.
Similarly, the e-commerce sector has started using the technology on a wider scale. AR is widely being used by online furniture/home décor apps to project the product’s image to the existing home of the buyer. Virtual showrooms are being created with the help of these technologies, bringing convenience and comfort to the customers.
Even for beauty products, customers can now try products virtually on their physical faces. The technology soon will bring the true essence of AR/VR, adding experiences of touch, 360-degree video catalogue, and so on.
The education sector too is going for a big leap in years to come with the help of AR/VR. The technology makes learning more interactive, interesting, and faster. The pandemic has emphasized the compulsion of expanding such technologies as these can enable out-of-the-classroom activities. Even a student in a remote corner of the world can have access to quality education with the help of these technologies.
Various VR/AR-based programmes allow students to get fully immersed in a 3-D environment and explore the anatomy of the human body. They allow the student to navigate through the human body and organs, and their functions. According to a report, AR/VR in the education sector will hit USD 5.3 billion by 2023.
The use of AR and VR in the medical field is expected to help medical practitioners and patients alike. For patients, VR is used to present the digitised version of their body parts and surgeons can explain the operating procedure and problem areas. It would also give the doctors to carry out simulations before the actual procedure. It allows health experts from across the globe to collaborate more efficiently and effectively on a surgical procedure. Surgical planning, training, and education would thus become more efficient.
In the military, AR/VR is being used to provide real-time scenarios like bomb disposal, parachute jumps, etc. to train soldiers. Its usage in video games is known to all and is widely popular. Games like Beat Saber, Everybody’s Golf, and similar ones are quite famous amongst video game players.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for a virtual working space, reduced human touchpoints, and speedier project execution. Most of the aerospace industry is looking to use AR/VR technologies soon especially when it comes to aviation maintenance. The logistics sector too can use the technology through smart glasses that can show location, product details, and packing instruction.
The combined capacity of AR and VR is expected to boost the global GDP by USD 1.5 trillion by 2030. AR/VR still has a long way to go and the advent of 5G will further boost its usage. The focus should be on solving real-time problems and enhanced user experience.