VR and AR - which sectors will no longer be able to live without them?

While some still see augmented and virtual reality as technologies reserved for hardcore gamers, many have recognized its considerable potential across a wide range of industries.

Although augmented reality gets mainly associated with fun and games like Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go, AR technology is coming of age. Today, pretty much every industry - from healthcare to manufacturing - is waking up to the potential of AR to provide business solutions that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Thanks to faster processors, better graphic cards and innovative software development capabilities, countless new opportunities have opened up for VR and AR in both the consumer and industrial sectors.

But first, what is AR/VR and in which way do the two technologies differ?

AR/VR technology uses sensory devices to either virtually alter a user's environment or fully immerse them in a simulated surrounding. Virtual reality devices typically consist of specially designed headsets that allow full visual immersion in a simulated environment, while augmented reality is based on headsets that add virtual elements to the user's actual surrounding.

From real estate to healthcare, AR/VR applications are finding use in a wide variety of fields. While some still see AR and VR as technologies reserved for hardcore gamers, many have realized the significant potential in a variety of industries. AR and VR headsets are becoming more affordable and user-friendly, and new use cases far beyond gaming are being developed.

We take a look at 6 industries that are increasingly turning to AR/VR

With so many stores closing, VR is an emerging solution to the challenges traditional retailers are facing, as well as another strategy that e-commerce companies have begun experimenting with. Using AR/VR, retailers could offer customers everything from virtual fitting rooms to the ability to personalize products.

VR makes it possible to place people virtually, giving event organizers more capacity to invite larger audiences to in-person events. Similarly, VR can also be used to enable participation in virtual conferences. Likewise, the events industry is using technology to create experiences for in-person audiences.

VR and AR have the potential to be particularly useful for manufacturing, logistics, and skilled trades. For example, AR can overlay holographic images - "objects" - and instructions on top of a person's real-world perspective, which can be immensely valuable when training workers to use large machines or specialized equipment.

Organ modeling helps save lives. AR technology is also transforming the world of healthcare by breaking down complex medical concepts into interactive 3D shapes. In this way, AR helps medical experts, patients and trainees describe diseases and treatments more easily. 3D visualizations of actual, specific individual organs from different angles help surgeons make more precise stitches and increase success rates.

VR and AR can play a critical role in both the development and sales of real estate. AR adds value to digital modeling - the tools can be used to overlay construction plans, marketing materials and other 2D documents onto 3D models. They can also provide guided work instructions to construction workers and other industry workers. VR also allows real estate professionals to present to property buyers in a realistic way, including virtual views of the site and neighborhood.

The potential of VR in the automotive industry begins at the concept stage: to quickly design, prototype and evaluate vehicles in a virtual environment. VR also lends itself to experiential test drives. On personalized test tracks, prospective buyers can see how the car works. The car buying process is already shifting towards omni-commerce. Today, customers can view vehicles, make a purchase, and complete financing without ever setting foot in a dealership. VR and AR will accelerate the digital transformation of the "Customer Journey".

Based on these few examples, it is easy to see the great potential of these technologies. Within a few years, several industries have made use of them and many more will follow. The constant technical progress and the acceptance is increasing.

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