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AR or VR? GlobalData says one will offer far greater opportunities

12 Dec 17

Virtual reality (VR) is often touted as one of the most important technologies of the near future and constantly features in headlines as a ‘game changer’.

GlobalData however, says while VR may be interesting for consumers, it is a niche brand of technology that has very limited applications for the wider business community.

Technology analyst at GlobalData, Josh Hewer says it’s actually VR’s sibling, augmented reality (AR), that offers greater opportunities for businesses and consequently the technology that is more worthy of investment.

“VR is the total emersion within a virtual space that can often be sold as a form of escapism. However, the future will not be about escaping reality, but rather augmenting the existing space within the digital world,” says Hewer.

“Unlike VR, AR does not retreat into a purely digitally-created world – instead it overlaps the real world with data and images visible through actual human sight.”

Hewer says the AR’s role outside of consumer devices will encompass more dynamic tasks such as proof of concepts for architects, or enhanced awareness for drone operators. Another example is the potential to provide operational visual displays of unit history – rather than storing massive amounts of paperwork on computers.

“AR could be the game changer for businesses. It is impossible to sell a digital space completely removed from reality of the workplace,” says Hewer.

“AR has a tangible benefit versus the more abstract concept of VR, offering companies a more pragmatic digital solution.”

GlobalData’s research shows the markets have reflected the success of fusing traditional operations with smart capabilities, aka the Internet of Things (IoT). The data and analytics company’s annual survey of more than 1,000 IoT project managers revealed that 80 percent of these deployments are bought exclusively by IT specialists and technology-focused consumers.

“In 2016 Pokémon Go dominated headlines in specialist and mainstream press. Downloaded over 650 million times, it is the poster child of AR. It will be the companies able to replicate Pokemon’s success that will succeed in the race to combine the virtual world with the one we are used to,” Hewer concludes.