What is the reality of virtual reality? When you reverse Virtual Reality, Reality Virtual it suddenly changes the meaning and intent. As we wander further and further down the VR/AR path, there are many interesting things starting to happen. VR or Virtual Reality is the creation of a virtual environment and the insertion of a person into that environment. AR or augmented reality leaves you, in reality, you are in but adds to that reality with addition components or considerations. VR today is great for games and will continue to expand in that space. AR, however, is something that ultimately is going to be a game changer for some professions.
The impact of augmented reality devices will be highest in every profession where expertise occurs over time. The AR addition would allow a master technician to share their expertise with ten people at the same time using AR broadcasts. Imagine if the best of the best at any company could help ten people get just that much better. The result is a significant improvement in time spent, the cost of solution and customer satisfaction. Surgeons could leverage the expertise of doctors that have performed the operation 100 times but are in another city or country. That expert could see what the first doctor is seeing, and guide them through the surgery.
The initial market problem today is the reality of the headsets released. There are some VR/AR headsets released that require a PC or gaming system so that the content can be consumed as Virtual Reality. There are fewer Augmented reality systems available today, but that will continue to evolve in the next two-three years. The interesting devices are the ones that offer the ability to provide local processing.
There was a flurry of headset announcements made in the past six to eight months. The long awaited Oculus Rift finally shipped. Sony shipped their VR headset. Microsoft announced two VR headsets would be shipping this fall. They, MSFT, are already shipping the Hololens but it is an important distinction to note that Hololens is a creation system for VR and AR content. The headsets announced consumption headsets.
The reality of all of these things is the rise of virtual worlds. The impact for Doctors and other medical professionals is going to be huge. Just from the Doctor being able to connect to a system employ, say first responders, and being visually aware of what is wrong and quickly see what will be needed when that patient arrives. Or security professionals being able to create multiple easily viewed windows with a headset displaying around them. The VR future, coupled with the AR possibilities will make a lot of interesting changes around us.
It is an important distinction between the concept of creation systems and consumption systems. It is one that is going to continue to evolve as we go forward.