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Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

25 October 2018

Modern information technologies have made available a potentially infinite amount of information within a few clicks. The interaction with all these data, however, is still made through desktops or devices which are not specifically designed for industrial usage. Although the spread of these terms is increasing, however, the two concepts are often confused. Thus, it could be useful to clarify.

Virtual Reality

The origin of the first VR visor dates back to 1968. The term Virtual Reality, however, was popularized by Jaron Lanier, one of the modern pioneers of the field, only in 1985. But what is virtual reality? It is an interactive experience taking place within a simulated and immersive environment totally alternative to the tangible one. This generally occurs thanks to a visor that completely isolates the user from its surroundings. VR is mainly used in entertainment applications such as gaming and 3D cinema. Compared to AR, it is more B2C oriented even if there are a lot of applications in the B2B too (an example could be a builder who, using virtual reality, can visualize the characteristics of a given building before starting work on it). According to the international Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Augmented e Virtual Reality Headset Tracker, worldwide sales of virtual reality visors decreased 33.7% in the second quarter of 2018. This decrease, however, would be due to a drop in sales of devices without displays that, being the least expensive, have initially attracted the attention of a large mass audience. This setback would however be temporary. IDC reveals in fact that by 2022 is expected a real increase in sales of both VR and AR devices.

Augmented Reality

AR technology is based on the enrichment of human sensory perception through information, generally conveyed electronically, which otherwise would not be perceived with the five senses.
Although AR and VR technologies have common origins (the first AR visor was in fact designed in 1968, again by Ivan Sutherland), augmented reality and virtual reality are based on completely different principles. In fact, the AR visors do not provide total isolation from the surroundings; on the contrary, they need the user to maintain visual contact with the reality, while information about the environment and its objects is overlaid on the real world. Interesting early applications of AR occurred in military field. In recent years, however, augmented reality has begun to spread among the general public, especially thanks to a great number of applications for smartphones.
In the B2B field, on the other hand, the use of augmented reality visors is growing also thanks to their hands-free logic which allows operators to work in complete safety. The main use case in B2B is that of maintenance of machines and plants.  Just think of the frequency of all those maintenance operations that require the reading of instruction manuals or even the intervention of expert technicians with the related expensive business trips. Augmented reality makes these procedures simpler and faster. And it is precisely for remote maintenance operations, that GlassUp has designed and launched on the market its GlassUp F4 goggles. F4 comes with a remote control dashboard that allows the user to share the point of view of any paired visor, to assist or monitor operators, manage voice call, and much more.
GlassUp’s goal is to optimize the production processes, especially of manufacturing companies. Market forecasts are excellent. According to the IDC, in 5 years, sales of AR and VR visors will be over 68 million.