Hold onto your world, because the way you work, rest and play is about to change forever, thanks to Virtual Reality.
A digital rendering of a world beyond our physical presence, in Virtual Reality (VR) we can create graphic, video and audio elements to our exact specifications, interacting with this world as we would our own.We can also present a version of the real world, like a 360-degree video, that can be navigated in three dimensions.
VR is accessed via a specialised headset, which completely covers the eyes, and may also include headphones to deliver sound to the ears. It feels a little geeky at first, but you'll settle in fast.
VR versus AR
The newly released Oculus Rift headset is an example of premium hardware, although VR can also be experienced via cheaper alternatives, like Samsung's Gear VR headset.
Imagine strolling through a potential new office, setting up desks and workspaces to test traffic flow, or holding a training session with attendees from all over the world, without ever leaving your office. This is the reality of VR.
Simultaneously, the technology behind Augmented Reality (AR) is also experiencing increasing momentum.
Where VR is a virtual representation of a reality outside our own, AR inserts digital elements into our field of view to augment our existing world.
The future has arrived
AR headsets more resemble glasses worn over the eyes with visual elements projected onto the lenses. Microsoft's HoloLens headset is a perfect example.
Technology expert and noted futurist, Shara Evans believes an exciting life awaits us all in the not-to-distant future.
"AR will be the biggest impact on enterprise, where you have a digital overlay on the real world," Evans said.
"For example, in the medical industry, a healthcare worker will have AR glasses that will allow them to see the vasculature in the hand of a patient to allow them to insert a needle correctly.
"Or imagine walking in a supermarket in a few years time when all packaging has an RFID chip with all the label information, where it was produced, how long it was in transit – you tell the app you're allergic to peanuts and the AR will tell you what products are safe to eat."
A whole new world
Whereas once creating VR content required custom-built cameras and software, today you'll find a prêt-à-porter approach to 3D and 360 video equipment.
High-definition video cameras, capable of ultra-wide fields of view and even full 360-degree capture, can be bought easily over the web, with prices ranging from 'spare change' to 'second mortgage'.
Many feature one-button activation, allowing you to point, shoot and create content easier than ever before. For companies looking to offer their clients next-level experiential marketing, VR is your new god.
An augmented future
Right now VR and AR are slowly building momentum in enterprises across the globe, allowing all levels of business to benefit from the ability to move beyond our existing world to access information and functionality in an instant.
"Audi has created a virtual showroom accessed by wearing a VR headset. You can change the colour or modifications of a car, you can poke you head inside the car and see the engine or the car interior," Evans said.
But for the future of enterprise, we'll see our real world augmented in ways we currently only dream of - a future where innovation meets science-fiction.
"In a seven to 10 year timeframe, we'll see the emergence of smart contact lenses that combine AR and biotech," Evans said.
"Not only will you see the world with AR, they will also focus your eyesight to help you read and even give you telephoto or infrared viewing capabilities."
It appears the future of business technology is shaping up to offer unsurpassed levels of immediacy, information and control.
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