Future of communication with AR & VR
Let’s start this article off with a retrospect on how digital communication has evolved until today, then imagine how sharing information and interacting with digital content could look like in the upcoming 30 years…
First digital signals were already transferred more than two centuries ago by using telegraphs. Before that, all communication signals were either acoustic or optical. It’s only two to three decades ago when first computers, cell phones, cameras and other digital devices started to integrate into our everyday lives. Today already we can’t imagine being without our electronic helpers. The more importance these technologies gain, as more effort they attract – which progressively results in an even faster development. On one side they lead to a so called digital intoxication with an increasing addiction to our digital devices. On the other, these technologies make our lives easier by helping us to communicate or managing tasks in a more easy way.
VR & AR
In Virtual Reality (VR) the user experience is happening within a closed virtual space, totally immersive and isolated from it’s surrounding world.
VR has been around since the 90s, but has just experienced a breakthrough-boom in 2016 with consumer consumer devices like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. VR will be seen increasingly in the coming years, especially in cinematic, gaming or educational applications – where communication with the surrounding world isn’t crucial.
Augmented Reality (AR) on the other hand will evolute into a total game-changing technology, to the way humans communicate and interact with digital data in near future. In AR, digital content such as interfaces, media or graphs are displayed in to the users real-world-view trough a transparent screen. Another definition is Mixed Reality (MR), what defines a very similar but even more advanced integral technology – by mapping virtual interactive objects in to the physical world. So, generally we can claim, that AR or MR enable way more use-oriented, real life based and socially connected scenarios than VR does – which is why especially MR will gain more importance and impact over VR. Same as with the revolution of the internet 20 years ago, or the smartphone 10 years ago – from todays perspective it’s difficult to understand that MR-devices will sooner or later be implemented in our everyday life and maybe even replace most digital devices we have nowadays on the long run.
A short prospect on how future communication could look:
Within 5 to 10 years from now mobile computing technology will have advanced enough, that a simple headset like a regular looking glasses (or sunglasses) will contain all necessary sensors, displays and other electronic components to enable a high-end and flawless MR experience. These headsets, produced by companies such as Magic Leap, Oculus or Apple will virtually display all information that we have today on our Phones, computer screens and TV’s in to the 3D-spaces surrounding us. The internet and other medial content will no longer only be consumed two dimensional – which will be a huge revolution! In the following couple of years WebVR and WebAR will project the web into our physical space. While browsing IKEAS online-shop you’ll be able to place the Sideboard virtually in to your living room to see how it fits.
Further technologies will join the party and enable a wider range of possibilities. To make an example: Face- and object recognition will enable us to extend or even replace physical objects with virtual interfaces and let us communicate with them in a totally new and “hopefully” intuitive way – for example by using simple hand gestures or our voice. Even later – let’s say 50 years from now, this entire technology will be integrated into transparent eye-lenses. What seems more horrifying from todays point of view is the fact that scientists are even working on solutions on how to implant the technology to trigger parts of our brain directly to create “digital illusions”, so it won’t longer be necessary to wear a headset, nor to carry any mobile device in order to use digital communication and interact with other technical devices.
The integration of AR/MR can be beneficial in countless fields of everyday life. For some people though, all this seems terrifying. I personally am interested and curious in what new possibilities will emerge from it – but with a grain of skepticism.
One thing is for sure… especially AR will most likely play an very important, game changing role in the future of communication and our way of interacting with virtual content!