TechKNOW Tomorrow – The Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality

Image by Jessica Lewis via Pexels.

Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, virtual reality (VR) was all the rage in the entertainment industry: movies, music, science fiction literature… It was everywhere! It seemed like a pipe dream, some distant technology to be explored in the 22nd century.

Well, here we are in the 21st century. VR has had ample time to work out all of the bugs and kinks, and has already started to dominate the entertainment industry. Many modern video games, for instance, have had VR editions released over the last couple of years. Some video games have been built for VR from the ground up, even!

So where exactly is this technology headed? What can we do with it? Let’s take a look.

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Virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) are basically two sides of the same coin. As this article explains, “Virtual reality offers a digital recreation of a real life setting, while augmented reality delivers virtual elements as an overlay to the real world.” While augmented reality attempts to simulate a real environment by inserting digital images over it, virtual reality builds a virtual world from scratch and immerses the viewer, making them feel like they are part of that world.

To clarify, here are some examples. An example of AR is the Snapchat filter that gives you digital dog ears; an example of VR is wearing a headset that covers your eyes and immerses you into the world of Skyrim. Both alter your perception of reality to a certain extent.

But what is the future of VR or AR? Is it strictly for the entertainment industry? Nope! In 2020, we’re already starting to see industrial applications for digital simulations. For example, VR can be used to test and simulate a dangerous work environment with heavy tools, safety procedures, and proper equipment without any of the risks involved with endangering the lives of workers. AR can relay important chemical information without having workers refer to hefty manuals.

Moreover, the health industry is already testing applications of VR in mental health counselling. Imagine facing your phobia of snakes, public embarrassment, or drowning without having to risk your pride (or your life, for that matter!). And that’s not all – AR is being used in surgeries, too. During a significant operation, a surgeon can be alerted to potential risks.

One of the coolest applications of VR will be in classrooms. Imagine a history lesson where your headset can simulate the horrors that actual soldiers experienced in the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. Or maybe there will be an AR app that can visualize objects in the world around us and translate them on the go, helping teach us new languages faster. The possibilities are endless!

So prepare for the future, fellow learners. Over the next few years, we are going to see lots of changes in not just entertainment, but also work and learning environments. And while those changes might initially be scary, I know you’re up to the challenge to adapt. Perhaps techKNOWtutors will be able to help you!

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At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

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