The New Realities

DR. Makarand Sawant, Senior General Manager IT, Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals Corporation Limited | Friday, 18 December 2020, 08:37 IST

DR. Makarand Sawant, Senior General Manager IT, Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals Corporation Limited

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality (AR) has already reached the right maturity level to be used in a production environment like smart factories. Proven to increase people and process performances by up to 50%, augmented reality significantly decreases costs emerging from human error or inefficiency. A few of the application areas for AR in Industry 4.0 include Operations, Maintenance & Remote Assistance, Training, Quality Control as well as Safety Management.

Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Augmented has already become a buzzword, but this technology is still a mystery for many people. AR is the overlay of digital content on the real-world environment. Virtual objects can be in various forms: images, videos, or interactive data. In other words, if you see the real world supplemented with digital objects, that is AR. Imagine you want to buy a piece of furniture – a chair, for example. Augmented reality technology can help you check how different chairs will look in your room and pick the one that fits best.

So how can you bring AR experiences to life? There are two main ways:

Portable devices - AR is the most accessible reality technology, as people can use their smartphones or tablets to run augmented reality applications. AR apps use a phone camera to capture the real world; virtual objects are then overlaid, and users can see them on their smartphone screen.

Smart glasses and AR headsets - Another way to create AR experiences is to use special smart glasses or headsets. Unlike VR headsets, these AR glasses and headsets do not immerse users into a fully virtual environment but just add digital objects to the real world. With Glass, for example, digital data is projected right in front of the user’s eyes.

Use of Augmented Reality Technology - Now that you know what AR is and how it works, try to guess what industries this technology can be used in. And no, gaming does not count. AR, in fact, proves useful in a variety of spheres, from advertising to medicine. Let us have a look at some of the use cases in different fields.

Advertising - Augmented reality helps marketers and advertisers reach out to their audiences more efficiently. Unlike conventional ads, AR ads are interactive and engaging so they not only promote sales but increase brand awareness as well.

Manufacturing - Manufacturing is an industry where new technologies can give a competitive advantage. Augmented reality helps companies improve productivity and quality. How? Manufacturing workers can get assistance from AR gadgets to reduce human error, save time, and increase efficiency. For example, upskill offers an augmented reality platform for industrial applications. Some of the world’s biggest corporations, such as General Electric and Boeing, are already using AR in their manufacturing processes. For Maintenance and Repairs Imagine you need to repair something, and you do not know how. No doubt you would either spend a lot of time watching DIY videos on the internet or simply ask a professional to do it for you. There is now a third option, however – you can use a special augmented reality application to help you perform a repair. Businesses and individuals can use augmented reality solutions to carry out maintenance and repairs today.

Retail - Millions of people prefer making purchases on the internet. Online shopping is convenient, timesaving, and money-saving. But what if an item isn’t exactly what the buyer expected when it arrives? AR apps are a great solution to this problem, as they allow customers to virtually view or even try on products sold online. Augmented reality is particularly useful for navigation. Virtual objects overlapping the real world can show directions and guide people to locations. Many businesses use AR to attract people to their stores.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality (VR) implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. Using VR devices, users can be transported into several real-world and imagined environments. There are lots of definitions of the term Virtual Reality, and some are quite long and complicated. Let us be brief and clear: virtual reality is an artificial digital environment that completely replaces the real world. With VR, users experience artificial sounds and sights and feel as if they are in a digital world. Imagine opening your eyes and seeing a computer generated world all around you; you can move in this environment and even interact with it. That is what virtual reality is like. Special VR headsets are used to immerse users in virtual reality. There are two main types of VR headsets:

“Augmented has already become a buzzword, but this technology is still a mystery for many people”

Use of Virtual Reality - Let us have a look at some of the use cases in different fields.

Education - VR learning content can revolutionize education, making learning immersive and more engaging. And apart from schools and universities, virtual experiences can also help businesses train their staff.

Real Estate - Photos have been used by real estate agents to showcase properties for decades. But now, agents can use virtual reality for this purpose. Unlike photos, VR is immersive, so potential buyers can take three-dimensional walkthroughs and better understand what each property has to offer before visiting in person. Moreover, VR can help architects show their projects to clients as virtual reality enables clients to see what their future property will look like.

Healthcare - Being immersive, virtual reality can give an in-depth look into human anatomy, helping doctors better understand their patients’ needs. VR technology also comes in handy for surgical training.

Marketing - Thanks to virtual reality, businesses can reach out to their audiences by launching immersive and engaging marketing campaigns. This is particularly important in the age of online shopping, as VR experiences help people get a feel for products without leaving their homes.

Travel - The travel industry has always been quick to adopt new technologies, and it’s not surprising – people want to know what they’re paying for. Virtual tours can help travel businesses promote destinations and attract tourists. VR is also a great way for people who have a harder time getting around to explore the world.

Mixed Reality (MR)

In a Mixed Reality (MR) experience, which combines elements of both AR and VR, real-world and digital objects interact. Mixed reality technology is just now starting to take off. There can be, however, a different form of mixed reality – when users see and interact with a completely virtual environment overlaid on the real world around them. If this sounds confusing, think about it this way: imagine you are interacting with a completely digital environment but you’re still in your room. What if you trip over a physical object in your room? To avoid this problem, a headset must be able to track the real world and adjust the virtual environment accordingly. This kind of mixed reality is closer to VR than AR; in fact, some VR headsets have sensors to track the physical environment too. Different types of devices are required to experience these two forms of mixed reality:

Holographic devices - These headsets have translucent glasses that allow you to perfectly see your surroundings. Virtual experiences are created with the help of holograms.

Immersive devices - These headsets have non-translucent displays that completely block out the real world (just like VR headsets) and use cameras for tracking.

Extended Reality (XR)

Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term that covers all the various technologies that enhance our senses, whether they’re providing additional information about the actual world or creating totally unreal, simulated worlds for us to experience. It includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies.

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