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Virtual and Augmented Reality

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TNGT 3856-801

Winter 2017

Virtual and Augmented Reality

February 9, 2017

The world in which society functions today is constantly changing and evolving.  New ideas and technology are making headway in helping to ease human day to day life, and improving upon the very foundation of society’s needs and wants.  Virtual and Augmented Reality (VAR) play an important and critical role in these improvements and advancements so much that human life would be impossible to cope without them.  VAR has many implications that affect the current and future of society, but mostly demonstrates future potential.

Virtual and Augmented Reality are similar but different.  Augmented Reality (AR) is a variation of Virtual Reality (VR) defined as taking synthetic information and implanting it into the real-life environment (Kipper, 2012).  VR on the flip side, is where a completely new environment envelopes a subject and there is no access to the real environment (Kipper, 2012).

The history of VAR stretches all the way back to the 1800s, when stereoscopes were used to provide depth perception in pictures (, n.d.).  Two cards were held in a glass reader then held to the face, which a person would look through and have a perception experience, similar to the 3D experiences had today.  They look very similar to the View Master Mattel toy that was released in the late 1930s (Hanlon, 2004).  These stereoscopes were the grandfather into the idea of VR in the sense that it offered the users an optical illusion, or another dimension into their everyday world.

Another invention in the 1800s that helped shape the VAR that one can see today involves the cyclorama, a 360-degree painting of a scene that is viewed from the inside (, n.d.).  These were able to give users the sense that they were in the painted scene as one would have to scan all around to experience the entire scene in a three-dimensional atmosphere (National Miliary Park Pennsylvania, n.d.).  These cycloramas were popular but expensive to build, as they required an entire building to house all of the panels of the 360-degree painting (National Miliary Park Pennsylvania, n.d.).  When motion pictures hit the scenes, these cycloramas faded out, and most of the painted scenes were lost (National Miliary Park Pennsylvania, n.d.).

In the 1980s, Hollywood was the first innovator of VAR, as it developed and released the movie TRON (Nelson, 2014).  After that movies release, VAR was seen again in Star Trek, with the holodeck (Nelson, 2014), which incorporated VAR and made it seem like a reality.  Since then, there have been many different sources of where VAR is displayed, and incorporated into daily functions.

VAR started to take off in the 1980’s, however, because the technology to build these devices wasn’t developed, VAR systems were too expensive to be sold to everyday consumers (Claasen, 2016).  This did not stop research and technology advances working towards today which was when technology got cheaper and cheaper to make, VAR has infiltrated different areas of societal life with positive outcomes.

        Today, VAR has been seen in many technology gadgets, from VAR headsets like the Oculus Rift (DINGMAN, 2016), to mobile games like Pokémon Go (Claasen, 2016).  All these different gadgets or apps have massive followings, and demands for improvements are on the rise as the market if full with enthusiasts and pioneer developers (Tribbey, 2016).  This means that even though the concept of VAR has been around for more than a century, the technology is still in the infancy stage and continues to grow.  

        More importantly, today, VAR is credited for enriching the lives of many medical patients, government projects including usage in the military, education, entertainment and throughout business.  Simulation labs for medical procedures, military drills and procedures, business procedures, presentations, training, educational training, movies, and games all use some form of VAR.   These are only some of the various methods in which VAR has impacted many different industries that humans rely on.  This reliance will be the deciding factor on whether VAR becomes something more essential to daily life.  These technologies can be habit forming and capture the imagination which can lead to an addiction.   This technology can benefit or interfere with general public safety, which is most concerning.  

The value that any firm would have with VAR is really unmeasurable at this point in time, as the technology is still developing.  It really depends on whether a company can incorporate and harness this type of technology, and implement it successfully throughout their supply chain.  VAR can help streamline costs and improve upon efficiency.  VAR can be used by the firm either internally or externally, or both.

Internal applications of VAR would impact training and retraining costs, and could significantly decrease these. A tool to decrease internal costs would be to use Simulation labs, where employees are trained to do their jobs in different situations.  This can lead to an effective and efficient workforce.  Research, technology, and even IS development could also benefit from VAR as it can be a very important tool to use when making decisions and planning for the future.  This can also be used when a firm is developing safety drills, like in the case of an Active Shooter or fire, as it done it many Canadian post-secondary institutions. The government also benefits from VAR, as this technology is used within the Military for training, drills, and use within equipment, and can be used in Urban and public development projects (Kipper, 2012).



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