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July 27, 2017

The Industries Predicting The Future of VR and AR Technology

Written By Nikki McCaig
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Settling on one single topic when writing about the future of VR is a harder task than expected. There’s a lot of research already being conducted into the predictions of Virtual and Augmented Reality Technologies, with big name industries forecasting their various successes and avenues. The Motley Fool has published an article entitled ‘The Future of Virtual Reality: 5 Things to Know’, documenting the journey of an investor into the innovative gaming concept, Mashable has written up an extensive historical timeline of Augmented Reality, from invention to consumption, and even Facebook opened up a (marginally unsuccessful) Oculus movie studio for excited in-house film-goers.

So when it comes to writing about the future of technical evolutions like VR and AR, there are a lot of areas to cover.

So, which industries actually want to start using VR/AR?

Retail

Perhaps the biggest industry to utilise virtual and augmented reality this year is retail; with major stores, brands and designers linking fashion, beauty, shopping and consumer journeys to the faux-reality experience.

Topshop, for example, went as far as setting up a giant Virtual Reality waterslide through their flagship London store, with consumers enjoying the ride down Oxford Street whilst wearing customised VR headsets.

Inspired by this, IKEA then went onto to pilot an augmented reality app where customers can virtually style certain items of furniture in their homes as part of a ‘try before you buy’ scheme. This app became so successful, it was even trialled on gaming store Steam, further distributing the virtual reality seed to other big name brands and corporations.

For the future of VR and AR, we can only predict more and more instances of simulated tech shopping from domestic retailers, as the virtual reality portfolio becomes increasingly diverse and personalisable for its consumers.

Film  

At the most recent Comic Con, film auteur Steven Spielberg was quoted describing VR as the tech that will ‘rule the future’ of cinema. Whilst promoting his new augmented reality film ‘Ready, Player One’, the trailer of which reveals a dystopian America where almost every citizen exists only through their virtual reality headsets, Spielberg cited simulated reality technologies as ‘dangerous’ for audiences, as the watcher is given too much freedom over how to interpret a film narrative. But where he sees this as a problem, we believe it’s far more likely that many audiences and filmmakers alike will welcome this innovation as a new medium of storytelling – providing audiences with the ability to really live inside their favourite movies.

Social Media

As previously mentioned, Facebook has already gotten a headstart on the monopolization of virtual reality social sharing, but in the next five years, we predict that other social media and mobile platforms will be looking into adapting the tech for themselves.

In 2014, photography app Optonaut began combining social media platform Instagram with virtual reality, through panoramic shots and wide angled simulations.

In 2016, The Verge published an article discussing the fact that a high profile virtual reality company were holding private meetings at Twitter, with complete secrecy surrounding the potential project.

And less than a week ago, a Blockchain press release was outreached, describing how they plan to use virtual reality to improve business and professional networking in a similar fashion to industry site LinkedIn.

The combinations of social media and VR are happening as we speak, and it seems increasingly obvious that the future of simulation will be nothing but social.

Food

Food seems like perhaps the strangest technological hybrid in this list, but there have already been instances of a virtual reality dining experience in London.

At a small Nando’s pop up gallery event in Soho, a unique VR headset was incorporated into an art exhibition with the tagline ‘Feast Your Eyes’ summarising the simulated experience. Customers and attendees were invited to test out the kit to view the history and culture that shaped Nando’s spices, and to enjoy for themselves the process behind their favourite Nando’s menus.

But with more and more food festivals and pop up restaurants promising the attendance of augmented and virtual reality technology, we doubt it’ll  be long before the dynamics of dining are almost entirely blanketed by simulation.

Health

The incorporation of tech into the healthcare industry is one already documented and listed across the forecasts, but this doesn’t mean that future health problems and research won’t be accompanied by virtual reality and robotics. Diagnostic practices, digital mental health therapies and complex surgeries are all set to be upgraded into virtual and augmented realities, with some of the leading healthcare brands and industries leading the charge.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are incredibly lucrative pieces of tech in many predicted industries right now, and it’s open to discussion just which one they could be found in next.

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