The world is changing rapidly – that’s a (virtual) reality
Out of all the technologies transforming our world, AR and VR stand out for their enormous potential to radically change the way we do business.
The flag-bearers of digital transformation are often considered to be artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IOT), but there are other technologies, notably augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), that seem to be quietly slipping under the radar.
According to Carel du Toit, CEO of Mint Group, AR and VR are at their best when integrated with larger enterprise solutions, such as the Industrial IOT (IIOT) and advanced analytics. In such instances, he adds, connected AR/VR tools offer the potential to provide users with immersive experiences, real-time contextualised data, and role-related information to help them execute their daily tasks quickly, accurately and effectively.
“For most people, to wrap their heads around AR/VR remains a significant leap, as many view it as little more than a ‘fake’ world that is a replacement for reality. However, the essence of its value to society is far greater than this specific perception,” he says.
“The reality is that AR will allow us to seamlessly augment our existing world with a digital one in real time, driven by our individual contexts, in order to assist us to be better at work, research and training, and simply to be more connected. It will also help to finally breach the co-location problem of having a meeting with someone face-to-face, seeing them, viewing their body language and experiencing people in the flesh. AR will make it seem as if they are actually there.”
VR, on the other hand, states Du Toit, will allow us to put people in places and experiences that would not be possible without travel, as it can simulate a complete virtual world for the core purpose of the program, whether this be training, a holiday or letting a customer ‘experience’ a project they have commissioned, despite it being only a theoretical design.
“It certainly appears as though these technologies will have a significant effect on business in the near future. Both will have a massive effect, but it must be remembered that while their fundamental technology principles are similar, the application thereof is very different.
“AR is, by definition, there to augment reality with additional context, information and people, by allowing them to see what you see, which will help to drive discussions. I believe AR will ultimately become second nature in modern meetings and meeting rooms as the first step towards mainstream usage. AR’s usage in training on the job, or job shadowing, will closely follow. On the other side, VR will have an effect more seriously on the consumer side, specifically around gaming and similar experiences.”
Nonetheless, there is enormous potential for both AR and VR in a wide range of industries, including retail, construction, healthcare and education. "In construction, for example, VR could be used to walk a client through a building that is still only in the design stage. On the other hand, once the same building is completed, the interior designer could use AR to demonstrate their plans for the interior,” Du Toit continues.
Moreover, all those companies that seek to drive scale and grow a diverse geographic footprint will utilise AR to leverage experts in other parts of the world, with the technology allowing such meetings to happen seamlessly in what we refer to as a digital face-to-face environment. Here, the power gained by allowing people to collaborate in this manner and learn ‘together’ is something that applies to all businesses.
“There are some commentators who have suggested that AR or VR, combined with other digital technologies like AI and IOT, will radically change the way we do business. For me, this is a logical prediction. Given the deepening business requirements and the disruptive nature of these solutions, businesses demanding the most value from their technology investments should be seeking to find the perfect combination of these incredibly exciting technologies,” concludes Du Toit.