It’s not so long ago that virtual reality (VR) was some unfathomably advanced future technology seen on the silver screen and augmented reality (AR) was a term that many of us were yet to learn.
Now, however, AR and VR are almost commonplace, used by companies large and small across a range of industries. These technologies have become such a staple in business practices that the consultancy firm, Gartner, has gone so far as to remove both from its famous Hype Cycle.
But while the world is becoming more accustomed to these technologies, many of us are still left asking – what’s the difference between AR and VR? And are they here to stay or just a fad that will soon pass?
Augmented Reality Explained
What is AR?
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes computer-generated images on top of a user’s surroundings. In this way, computer-generated information is combined with physical objects to create a composite view.
The layer of digital content displayed by AR technology may include text, images, video, audio, or other forms of media. AR can provide additional information about the environment and allow users to interact with virtual objects. Correspondingly, an augmented reality definition might sound something like this:
“A technology that overlays digital content or information onto the physical world without separating the user from their physical surroundings.”
What does augmented reality mean for modern enterprises?
AR is used in a variety of applications, from gaming to education.
- AR can be used to create immersive gaming experiences, allowing players to interact with virtual objects in the physical world.
- It can also be used in the classroom to help students learn and understand complex concepts.
AR is also helping a variety of industries improve efficiency and safety in the workplace.
- For example, AR can be used to provide workers with real-time information on objects around them, helping them make better decisions.
Industries of all kinds are moving into the next stage of their digital journey. AR is an integral part of that, both for those in the boardroom and on the frontline. TeamViewer offers AR solutions to help companies support their equipment and machines, assist customers, and access information in a more efficient and meaningful way.
By providing frontline workers with AR tools that support their day-to-day tasks, TeamViewer ensures the inclusion of all workers in a business’s digitalization.
Examples of AR for remote assistance
TeamViewer’s Assist AR solution gives countless manufacturers a much faster and more efficient means of providing support.
Take Leitner Ropeways, for instance. With over 2,500 ropeways installed all around the world, it can take a considerable amount of time for a technician to reach a site to fix an issue. Long wait times like this can be a big problem, particularly for ski resorts who rely on ski lifts to safely transport guests. Regardless of businesses like this being situated in remote locations and experiencing extreme winter weather, when an issue occurs, a rapid response from Leitner is expected.
Enter Frontline, TeamViewer’s fully integrated augmented reality solution. When a ropeway system is not functioning as expected, a visual inspection is usually required. Frontline’s Assist AR allows a Leitner expert to see the equipment through the camera of an on-site staff member’s smartphone.
Remote Leitner technicians can take care of many things remotely.
- They can mark particular components on the ski resort employee’s screen while they view the equipment together. This makes it possible to diagnose the problem and, in many cases, even conduct the repair.
- The technician can also do things like mark the specific relay that needs to be replaced on the operator’s screen and guide them through the process.
This is just one example of how TeamViewer’s AR solutions can be put to work.
To find out how our tools could help excel your business, visit TeamViewer Frontline.
AR for industrial applications
Although AR is extremely useful in field service and remote support, that’s not the only way this technology adds value to industry.
Workers at Airbus Helicopters in Dallas must perform a number of tasks repeatedly.
- Measure and document large numbers of aircraft parts in SAP
- Create images of the parts while performing maintenance procedures
This previously required stopping their work to sit down at a PC and perform data entry. Airbus needed a way to get visually led instructions into the field of vision of the worker hands free. To do this, a high-resolution camera was needed to create images of components.
They found exactly what they were looking for in TeamViewer Frontline’s xInspect solution together with the RealWear HMT-1 head-mounted AR visor. The xInspect solution uses a high-resolution camera to create images and measure the dimensions of aircraft part components. Using its voice control functionality, workers can document their findings, eliminating the need to perform manual data entry. The solution is underpinned by clear guidance for the worker through the maintenance workflow, making the worker’s role more effective and efficient.
And that’s only one example of how industrial AR can dramatically improve efficiency in an industrial setting. Many more companies are empowering their workers with TeamViewer Frontline across a broad range of industries.
Frontline improves manual work processes by leveraging the latest wearable computing technologies tied into TeamViewer’s secure and reliable software and infrastructure.
Virtual Reality Explained
What is virtual reality?
VR is a fascinating technology that allows users to experience a computer-generated environment in a completely immersive way.
- With the help of a headset, users can move around this virtual world, seeing, hearing, and interacting with things that aren’t present in their immediate physical surroundings.
- The headset typically houses a display for each eye as well as sensors for tracking head movements.
- Many VR headsets also include built-in headphones.
The software component of VR is essential in creating a realistic 3D environment that can respond to the user’s movements and make them feel like they’re truly present within the simulation.
- It creates a virtual world with 3D modeling, animation, physics simulation, and sound design.
- The software tracks head and hand movements using the headset sensors and maps these movements to the virtual environment, which changes accordingly in the headset displays.
The simulation has to be rendered in real time and high resolution to maintain the illusion of reality. Users can look around, move through a space, and interact with virtual objects. This interaction and responsiveness of the technology creates a sense of presence that makes you feel as if you’re actually inside the virtual world.
The purpose of virtual reality
Virtual reality has been gaining in popularity since the introduction of the Oculus Rift and other head-mounted displays. As more companies explore the potential of these technologies, they’re finding that VR can be used for many purposes, including to improve communication, collaboration, and productivity.
VR is also being used to revolutionize the way we interact with technology. It is being used to create more natural user interfaces and make complex tasks easier to perform.
- For example, VR can be used to help surgeons plan and practice complex medical procedures.
- Architects and engineers can also don the headsets and use them to visualize structures in three-dimensional space.
Finally, VR is being used to create more engaging and interactive experiences.
- The experience of watching a movie or playing a game is transformed when wearing a VR headset.
- The technology can also be used to create more realistic simulations for military training and simulations for scientific research.
Ultimately, virtual reality is here to create more immersive, interactive, and engaging experiences that cannot be easily orchestrated in normal physical reality.
Virtual reality pros and cons
Virtual reality can create a unique, immersive experience for customers, provide training simulations, and enhance product presentations. Despite the potential benefits, there are also some pitfalls that businesses should be aware of when considering VR technology.
- Immersive customer experience
- Increased safety during training programs
- Connects people across great distances
- 3D interaction with models to aid hands-on learning
- Expense of user hardware and backend
- Expense of generating 3D content
- VR-induced motion sickness
- Hardware/software incompatibilities Security vulnerabilities
One of the biggest advantages of virtual reality for businesses is its potential to improve customer experience.
- By creating an immersive virtual environment, businesses can give customers the feeling of being in the store or office while they shop or receive services.
- This can help to create an engaging and memorable experience that customers will appreciate.
But what if your company is, for example, an industrial equipment manufacturer? Or a medical device maker?
- VR can also make training simulations for employees or customers.
- By creating a virtual environment, users can learn new skills and procedures in a safe, controlled environment before applying them in real-world situations.
But there are many potential downsides to using virtual reality in the enterprise.
- This tech can be expensive to deploy, consuming significant time and resources.
- Hardware and software compatibility can also be an issue.
- VR technology can also create experiences that are so immersive that they are overstimulating, which can be distracting or even harmful to users.
- When sensitive data is accessed via VR, a new attack surface is created. Security vulnerabilities can result.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to virtual reality technology is the nausea many users experience after a certain amount of use. There are strategies to limit the effects, but once you experience VR-induced nausea, you can actually become more likely to experience it the next time you put on your headset. Although it is possible to become acclimated to the experience, some people are more sensitive than others. Certain individuals may never be able to use the technology for any meaningful amount of time.
Another cost-related issue with VR is that, not only can the headsets and equipment be quite expensive, but the virtual world itself must also be created by someone. With VR games, that gets financed by the purchase price of the game. For enterprises, however, this often means generating considerable dynamic 3-D content customized for the particular application. Creating this kind of content can involve considerable cost, both at the outset and on an ongoing basis. Augmented reality, in contrast, simply overlays information on top of the real world. There is no additional expense for creating a separate reality.
The future of AR and VR
The adoption of AR and VR is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the coming years. Already valued at nearly $30 billion, the market is forecast to reach $200 billion as soon as 2030. Sure, much of this growth will be due to the rising popularity of VR for gaming. But it will also translate to greater adoption at businesses. For AR and VR this is only the beginning.
If you’re curious about taking the first step toward utilizing AR for your business, why not try the technology yourself? Visit TeamViewer Frontline to request a demo today.
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