Virtual & Augmented Reality (posted 13th January 2017)

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are capturing our imaginations at the moment as the world undergoes a technological revolution. You don’t need me to tell you how lost we’d all be without our smart phones (something we couldn’t envision just over 10 years ago when we just had ‘plain’ mobile phones.) These phones are now used to run our lives and keep us amused. Slot your device into Google Cardboard and you’ve got yourself your very own VR headset!

As the big names in the industry develop and hone their technologies, we’re still waiting for one of the biggest to announce what direction they’ll be going in: Apple.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Facebook bought Oculus Rift, probably the best known headset. Samsung has Gear VR which has been designed with Oculus and is used in conjunction with your Samsung phone. Google has Google Cardboard, designed for using VR apps. Sony has PlayStation VR, a headset to enhance your gaming experience. Microsoft has HoloLens a wireless, self-contained headset with a “holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you”. Metaio develops software products for visual interactive solutions between the real and virtual worlds. While Layar with Blippar enables you to unlock a world of information by simply scanning items around you.  

Virtual & Augmented Reality
Oculus Rift

Virtual & Augmented Reality
Samsung's Gear VR

Virtual & Augmented Reality
Google Cardboard

Virtual & Augmented Reality
Sony's PlayStation VR

Virtual & Augmented Reality
Microsoft's HoloLens

And now there are rumours that Apple has partnered with Carl Zeiss to create iWear, smart glasses that will superimpose information info the wearer’s glasses by connecting to the user’s iPhone, creating an augmented reality.

So what are the differences between VR & AR? Virtual Reality is, as defined by Google “the computer-generated simulation of a three dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.”

Augmented reality is, as defined by Wikipedia “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data…” Another way to understand this would be to reference SnapChat where you can take a photo of yourself with superimposed filters, such as puppy ears, creating an augmented reality.

For another explanation VISR VR explain each very well.

Now, how will these two technologies influence and mould our lives in the future? Well the sectors in which they are currently being harnessed and explored include Events, Property (this is where our ears prick up), Medical, Travel, Retail, Education and Entertainment, amongst others. For Suna Interior Design VR and AR are a world that we’re very interested in and are exploring. VR and AR experiences are being developed and bespoked for property developers in order to aid them giving their clients the best understanding of the homes and to ultimately sell their developments. After all why would you not want to give your clients the best sales experience possible? Enable potential purchasers to wander and explore their potential new home before it’s built. To choose the specification, from the tile colours to the taps, to personalise the paint colour on the walls (imagine if you could move into your new home, and it was finished and decorated exactly to your liking, without any additional hassle!) Possibly one of the most interesting and captivating aspects will be to be able to show potential purchasers what the views from their new home/apartment will be! For developers this technology has the potential to greatly enhance off-plan sales.

Today our lives are decidedly interactive as we demand instant access to information and media through technology, all of which speaks and interacts with each other. For example, in the ‘olden days’ we would have organised a meeting to discuss the design of a new restaurant, by picking up the landline phone and making a plan to meet. You would then meet at the appointed time and place, on time and without having to check and confirm that you were all still able to make it. Maybe you wrote up the appointment in your Filofax or diary. Today we email, then send out a calendar invite which is synced to both the calendar on our computers/laptops as well as to the calendar on our phones and even watches. If we’re running late (because we didn’t really know where we were going, we just googled it enroute) we’ll text the other party. Then instead of pouring over the plans and drawings of the new restaurant, each person puts on their headset, immersing themselves in the potential world of the new restaurant. The client confirms that they’re happy with the layout (that they’ve maximised the space), wall colour and artworks, but isn’t loving the lighting. So we change that. We ask the chef (who’s visiting Italy at the time of the meeting, but had a headset and was able to join the meeting remotely) for their opinion. Is the pass the correct height, size and in the best location? It is, but the pastry section needs to be slightly bigger (this restaurant plans on specialising in several show-stopping desserts). Changes are made. The whole potential space is explored and understood in the same way that potential homeowners explore and personalise their potential new homes. All of this before any ground is broken and any bricks are laid.

So what remains to be seen is how both VR and AR will continue to evolve into our everyday lives. One thing you can be sure of though, is that there are exciting and interesting technologies coming our way!

Microsoft HoloLens – Transform your world with holograms 

Have a great weekend,