Here at Ayrmer Software we are passionate about keeping up with all the latest technology advances. This helps us ensure we are always on the cutting edge as well as being able to provide our clients with many possibilities when developing a solution. Recently there has been rapid growth in the industry that can be classed as Immersive Technology. Below we look at the different types of Immersive Technology being offered and how this could potentially be used over the next 5 years.
We will be the first to admit that there are strands of technology that never receive mainstream support or interest. It would be wrong of us to recommend a client to a technology that we did not believe would be widely supported in the mid-term. Certainly there is an initial caution within Immersive Technology as most applications historically have failed. However there is a growing consensus that the time is now right for these technologies to reach mainstream approval. It is estimated by DigiCapital that the AR/VR market (which can be classed as Immersive Technology) will be worth $150 billion by 2020 . Many of the larger companies including but not limited to Facebook, Google , HTC  and Microsoft  are assigning huge resources to push this technology forward.
Virtual Reality (VR)
The most recognisable example of Immersive Technology is the Virtual Reality headset. Things have progressed a long way from the bulky headsets that appeared in arcades in the 90's. Oculus VR have shown that cost effective, high defnition Virtual Reality is here to stay . Many other companies have now taken up the challenge including Samsung, HTC  and Google . There are also expected announcements from Apple. For those who are not familiar Virtual Reality is achieved by the user wearing a headset that covers their complete vision. This can then be replaced with a virtual world. Inside the world you head movements are replicated perfectly and an an ultra low latency to achieve the holy grail of VR, presence. When achieving presence the mind is completely fooled into believing that you are quite physically in this world. The potential of such a technology is completely wide ranging. Gaming, Virtual Tourism, Virtual Shopping, Military, Training, Education, Architecture, Design, Art are just some of the possible applications.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality is achieved by wearing a similar set of glasses, but instead of completely replacing your view it augments it with information. You see the real world combined with 3D objects that are added and shown through the glasses. Again your head movement is tracked so that the items paced in the world always appear in the correct place. The potential applications are wide ranging and not dissimilar to VR although can service industries that VR cannot (healthcare, advertising, video capture). Imagine a city planning company with 5 engineers surrounding a blank table. On the table is a plan of a new development. Each engineer has their own viewpoint to the model and can make adjustments in real time that are seen by all. AR has the advantage of being usable on the move. This opens up a whole new set of applications. Imagine getting lost and getting directions, but instead of trying to orient yourself on a map the direction arrows appear in the air above you guiding you to your destination.
Mixed reality (MR)
Mixed Reality (MR) is not dissimilar from AR in that the hardware is basically the same. However the difference is that it uses items in the real world to interact with the objects that are augmented. A simple example would be to use you hands. By monitoring the position of the hands, these can both control the placement of augmented objects as well as issuing commands. The most famous mixed reality device coming to market is Microsoft's Hololens. Microsoft are betting big that Hololens combined with their new Windows 10 operating system is the future of home and business computing.
Wearble Technology is a branch of all of the above three areas but is solely aimed at mobile and on-the-go applications. Google glass was one of the first applications of this type. Recently exercise equipment has become popular for monitoring heart rate, calories and GPS position.
We are well aware of fads when it comes to technology. We certainly wouldn't recommend a 3D television to a client as relevant for a solution. The new Immersive Technology industry is not a fad and is here to stay. Serious companies are spending serious money on bringing this to mainstream consumers and businesses. In a years time AR/VR will be on the high street. It is expected that the applications that spawn from this will be huge. Even as it stands now with most devices only available as development kits people can visit your website inside a virtual world.
This is only going to expand with many software applications targetting e-shopping where items can be viewed within a virtual shop. You can bet that the bigger players such as Amazon already have plans for this. At Ayrmer Software we can utilise Immersive technology for clients in one of 2 ways:
1) Use the technology in bespoke applications such as 3d visualisations. If you have a project that you think can benefit from Immersive Technology, feel free to give us a call and discuss what is possible.
2) Help prepare businesses for presenting their current offerings in new formats. This will expand over time, but could include adding VR / AR specific content to your website, preparing products for perusal in virtual shops and and creating custom VR/AR applications broadcasting your services.
As with any of our projects, no matter the eventual medium we pride ourselves on making complicated tasks easy. All of our team is passionate about technology and ensuring we are on the pulse of what is possible. Charlie Collins, our Managing Director, recently gave a radio interview regarding using technology within the education sector . At the start of September 2015 our Technical Director, Grant Bagwell, will be participating in a panel at the Immersed Europe 2015 event in Murcia, Spain .
Published: 04 August 2015