VR/AR Set To Disrupt The Last Strand Of Reality?
In many malls in Lagos, you will recognise the virtual reality (VR) stand as the little space where an individual in a Cyclops-like eye gadget is screaming and shifting for dear life in terror.
As far as augmented reality (AR) is concerned, we have the many Snapchat filters and apps that can alter your image from a young person to an old one or even completely alter your gender with the touch of a button. The difference with both terms is that while virtual reality demands a full immersion of your senses, augmented reality only influences a part of it.
Much like many of the technologically advanced tools, these new technology components first found their home in the entertainment, film making, and video games industry. With the excitement that has emanated from these industries, there is no gainsaying the fact that VR and AR are set to change the digital space as we know it.
The advent of the internet and social media brought about a trend that seemingly facilitated the human experience. However, it didn’t take long before it became a virus that altered our reality as far as social interactions go, altering the very fabric of our human experience.
A recent report by Global Web Index ranked Nigeria as the second country in the world that spends most of its time on social media, ranking only after the Philippines.
The same is evident in the shift in the communication and advertising industries which have all taken steps to change the direction of their advertisements to the digital space because people are no longer looking up but down at their phones. Many have since taken steps to reduce this immersion into a world that is becoming more real than ours.
Much like social media, we are excited about the benefits AR and VR will come with; however, we are also concerned as to whether this tool will completely break what’s left of our already detached world. When we have nightmares, we wake up panting because our dreams can be as vivid as reality.
However, today, filmmakers have mimicked the same experience. You scream while watching a horror movie because your brain is not completely capable of separating reality from fiction. Thanks to VR, this distinction will become increasingly harder to make. Although it’s still relatively new, it is already being considered by many as the biggest form of digital disruption since the smartphone and the internet.
The ups are undoubtedly good. VR/AR is set to change the ways things are done in a myriad of industries. Apps already exist that help architects and interior decorators simulate their homes. One of such is Wayfair app that gives consumers the ability to visualise furniture in their homes or offices by just holding their smartphones up.
In the educational and tourism sector, there are no limitations to how far you can go in breaking all barriers of time and space.
In healthcare, doctors-in-learning can now literally take excursions into the human body. Of course, the economic benefits are nothing short of amazing as well. The global virtual and augmented reality market is expected to exceed more than $117 billion (N4.2 trillion) by 2024 according to a report by Market Research Engine.
However, its downs are already evident. While getting lost in your VR fantasy like many sci-fi movies show is probably all too extreme, we have started witnessing the demerits of the adoption of both future technologies. We all had a taste of it when Pokémon GO became the sensation of the entire world. In the peak of its proliferation, we saw many Nigerians in the middle of busy streets trying to track the yellow monster to a point of complete obsession.
In truth, VR is not yet at a place where it can replace reality as we know it. Its total adoption will at least take another decade for reasons ranging from its highly expensive hardware to a lack of commercial skillset, and even the heaviness of the device that serves as a stark reminder of the difference between reality and the virtual space. However, a wave is coming.
The future of VR/AR will be as advanced as taking large computers and fitting them into a phone. In just a few years, there will be glasses that could serve as alternatives to smartphones. This time, they will invoke all of our senses, blurring the lines of reality and fiction.
The dystopian future was evident with the controversial picture which had a room full of people who were so immersed in the VR experience that they didn’t see Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walk on stage. In reaction to the panic on social media, as a result of the image he, however, explained that since “humans are fundamentally social, technology will only help us catch up and understand each other better. Just like the internet, it wouldn’t take away the core of reality but only augment it.
As the wave of super technological advancement beckons, we can only sit back and witness the effect of its changes on our world. What we do know for sure is that whatever comes out of it will become our new normal in a short matter of time.”