How AR and VR Can Change Things in 2018

Updated on January 9, 2018
Bradley Robbins profile image

Bradley Robbins is a tech, trade, and travel writer with a lifetime of experience with North America, Europe, and Japan.

Even with the Google Glass prototype a few years behind us, augmented reality (AR) and its persistent companion, virtual reality (VR), continue to make strides in many different aspects of life. Whether it’s changing the way we plan constructions or map the inside of atoms and the human brain, these two tools transform fields wherever they are introduced.

This makes them the type of disruptive technology that the world is likely to continue to embrace, displacing everyday tools in favor of simpler, faster online and augmented options. From video games to physical therapy and sports training, AR and VR are likely to continue to augment life in new and innovative ways in the year to come.

The Way We Think

Video games are often demonized for desensitization, but it is this very aspect that may make gamification a valid mental-health tool. Patients facing severe phobias that can dramatically impact their lives can use the technology to work through those fears by employing augmented and virtual reality simulations. Some may use AR to simulate “happy places” when they have to go outdoors or function in crowded environments.

The new year is likely to see even greater adoption of technology of this sort. VR counseling may even go so far as to allow sufferers to experience traumatic events over and over in a simulated environment until they can remember key details and cope with the outcomes of the stresses. This means the tools have the way to change the very way we think about our lives and the world around us.

The Way We Work

Training at work, especially for hazardous jobs, can clearly benefit from AR and VR tools. Workers may learn safety techniques in virtual environments, not dissimilar from how pilots have used flight simulators in the past, without risk to life and limb. Some employers may even turn their training departments over to distance learning centers for optimal results from skilled, certified professionals. Beyond the functional, employers may even bring VR into the workplace to deliver fun and create engagement.

Engaged employees typically represent an excellent return on investment for trainers and the company bottom line, making this type of situation likely to become even more commonplace in the future. These technologies can transform the way we work by enhancing productivity, simplifying scheduling and even reducing or eliminating the need for the dreaded face-to-face meetings in an office. For some, those benefits may far outweigh the initial costs of adopting AR and VR equipment.

The Way We Play

The most obvious change to the way we play related to VR and AR comes with the adoption of virtual headsets by organizations such as Sony Computer Entertainment and Facebook, which owns the Oculus Rift. The Playstation VR library continues to grow with new games from indie and AAA developers each month. Companies are also likely to turn more and more to AR advertising as a way to bolster their sales and increase their presence in the brick-and-mortar world, even without a storefront. But even organizations that operate entirely in the real world can add these technologies to their playbooks.

Ohio University cites that both the NCAA and NFL rely on VR technology to assist with training and coaching athletes. Teams including the Minnesota Vikings use the technology to study various aspects of the game and adopt new strategies and playstyles on the field. An infographic from the college notes the Vikings benefit from quarterback replays and virtual practice to maintain and even improve their game off the field. It cites an improvement in passing completion rates from 63.8 to 76.3 percent following adoption of VR tech. Such a swing in stats could prove game-changing for teams willing to make the most of AR and VR in the near future.

These changes could have much greater impact on how we live our lives than the advent of 3D technology and even UHD television have in the past. It's entirely possible that we'll see the adoption of these technologies slowly become a part of mainstream society the way smartphones and GPS-enabled devices have over the years. The integration of AR and VR in 2018 could very well be the beginning of a new era for entertainment, work and play in the years to come.

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