We are in the 21st century where technological transformations are most certainly creating a blurry line between fiction and reality. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) for decades have been hyped as technologies guaranteed to change the way we work and live.

These immersive technologies have paved the way for us to thoroughly explore computer-generated environments (in VR) and overlay computer graphics onto our actual environment (AR). While both of these technologies have increasingly been adopted in the entertainment industry in the past years, in the coming years, we expect these technologies to become more advanced and sophisticated as devices become upgraded and capable of generating higher quality visuals.

Virtual Reality

The AR and VR technology is widely used across industries, from education, to healthcare, tourism and sales. Most trade shows and exhibition stand designs are amplified with AR and VR technology. Instead of simply showcasing a product brochure, users can get to experience in real time how to use a product.

Below is a list of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality trends to look out for in 2019, according to Forbes:

1. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance AR and VR

AR and VR developers will incorporate smart, cognitive functionalities into their applications. For instance, AI technology such as computer vision which enables computers to comprehend and label objects seen through a camera is vital in the operations of AR—because objects in the user’s field of view can be identified and appropriately labeled. An excellent example of AI enhancing AR technology are the filters used on Snapchat or Instagram such as the cat whiskers, among other fun graphics on selfies. However, one of the most groundbreaking integrations of AI and AR is the machine learning-enabled microscope which can detect and highlight a cancerous tumor growth while a pathologist examines the samples through a viewfinder.

On the other hand, when it comes to VR, the virtual environments and its components will become more intellectual. Adoption of voice control will be the norm moving forward which will significantly decrease the use of icons and menus in a virtual environment. For example, in video games, computer-controlled players will become capable of reacting and adapting to a person’s playing style meaning that gamers will have a difficult time competing against their opponents.

2. Consumer entertainment VR will become mainstream

The introduction of consumer entertainment VR into households has been on a steady increase since consumer headsets were introduced in the market a few years back. However, hardware and application development which are still lacking may mean that VR is adopted more in homes this year.

In the past, VR headsets have had to rely on computers or mobile tech that either power the experience or provide low quality visuals. With the skyrocketing advancements in technology, key players and start-ups will develop headsets that come with a variety of features and functionality. Already, companies such as Oculus and Vive are planning to introduce stand-alone headsets that provide users with a more realistic and immersive environment.

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3. Use of AR and VR in training and teaching

These immersive technologies provide excellent virtual training environments for students. These environments enable students to practice whatever field they are interested in from surgery to construction to flight, without the risks involved in the real world.

Through AR, students can be presented with valuable information such as objectives, threats, and best practices. For instance, the US army is using Microsoft’s HoloLens tech in their military training to provide soldiers with real-time data about their environments. As technology advances, the objective is to give data on mission planning, target acquisition, and pathfinding.

4. VR and AR will be more collaborative and social

With the regular technology advancements and as more consumers purchase AR and VR headsets, 2019 may be the year we get to interact with realistic representations of family and friends through virtual reality. An excellent example of this integration is on WeChat which will incorporate VR to the mobile messaging system. Additionally, Facebook’s VR Spaces platform will allow individuals to meet and socialize in this environment.

Currently, Spatial has specialized in developing AR tools for offices and boardrooms that allow people to see and engage with virtual whiteboards, pin boards and even overlay real-world objects with designs.

5. AR in Vehicles

Incorporating AR in automobiles has the potential of improving safety which is otherwise affected by the use of Sat-nav and phone screens. Generally, AR in vehicles provides the driver with crucial information.

This technology is already in use in Nvidia’s Drive AR platform which uses a dashboard-mounted on display that overlays graphics on a camera footage from around the car. The information provided highlights useful details such as potential threats or historical landmarks found along the way. Another remarkable integration of AR into automobiles is the WayRay’s use of AR technology to directly project navigational directions, lane identification and hazard detection on a driver’s windshield.

In-car AR is centred on improving safety in cars by providing real-time feedback to the driver so that they can concentrate on the road as well as enhances the driver’s comfort and convenience.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies are here to stay, and as time goes by, these immersive technologies will only become better at transforming lives for the better. As the transformative technologies take effect in 2019, with improved hardware and software advancements of AR and VR technologies, we are yet to experience more effective solutions in a variety of fields. Right from enhancing the education sector to the healthcare sector to manufacturing to gaming, AR and VR technology trends are bound to transform the way we live and work.