If you imagine gamers with bulky headsets attached to a large screen TV in a dark room when you think of virtual reality, you are not alone – but you are incorrect. Virtual reality and augmented reality have come a long way from being isolated to gamers and headsets.
The incredible technology, which tracks a user’s head and eye motions to correspondingly adjust the images to appear three-dimensional and life-sized to the perspective of the user, is growing in several new applications.
Virtual reality is typically achieved by wearing an Oculus headset that covers the eyes and peripheral vision, while augmented reality can be achieved with the use of a smartphone. Augmented reality consists of overlaying digital images on top of a live stream of the real world.
This article will name some advances in the beauty, healthcare, and grocery industries and describe how both VR and AR have applications far outside gaming.
Augmented Reality in Beauty
Most people don’t even know that they already have access to AR at their fingertips. Virtual reality / augmented reality is used on a daily basis by anyone and everyone who uses the Snapchat filter. After the filter was developed in 2015, beauty giant L’Oréal was sure not to miss an opportunity. By June 2016, the company had created their very own, and a first of its kind, Snapchat filter.
This filter promoted their newest Silkissime Eyeliner by allowing users to “try-on the product” before purchasing, by having a digital representation of the eyeliner filter on top of the user’s front-facing camera. Shortly after, in October 2016 L’Oréal released yet another filter. Since then, numerous brands and apps alike have launched filters with Snapchat, in which you can try or try-on their products.
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Sephora, the Frontrunner
L’Oréal may have been the first, but Sephora remains in the front. Sephora is changing the face of beauty and VR/AR. Original versions of the Sephora app used AR to allow its consumers to put on makeup via a tutorial mode that consisted of two steps: show the brush where to apply it, then apply it. Users were beyond amazed by this technology, but the truth is that using AR in the beauty industry is only as successful as it is useful.
The current Sephora app now features hundreds of makeup tutorials, which all provide step-by-step demonstrations of how to apply the product, and what it will look like on your face. The most important feature is that all of the products used in the tutorial can be added to your cart with the click of a button.
This makes the Sephora app useful because it is the first technology that allows individuals to try on makeup, without even going to the store. They can see exactly what a product will look like on their face before buying it, and therefore be confident about buying it.
How Does It Work?
The technology behind Sephora’s brilliant app is no different than a common Snapchat filter. The computer reads the image as pictorial data and then translates it into binary code where different parts of the face are darker, such as the eyelids, and cheekbones. This is the easy part, but applying makeup to that face changed the game.
Although all human faces are similar, there is no doubt that they are all different. The Sephora app uses what is known as the active shape model to give the computer an idea of what to refer to, such as where the nose, eyes, and mouth could be. This allows the app to create an image for the face without knowing exactly where it is at first.
Augmented Reality in Education
Virtual reality in education is taking the world by storm. It is said that ultimately VR can bring equity into the classroom. This might sound like an oxymoron considering most VR headsets are upwards of $500 a piece, but equity in the classroom is the name of the game.
Have you ever considered what education looks like for individuals with lower socioeconomic economic profiles? Even a simple field trip may not be affordable, which means these individuals lack the opportunity for education in these scenarios. VR can change that.
With VR, a field trip to the zoo that was otherwise too expensive or too far is now at reach for students. VR can make speaking with victims of the Holocaust possible or traveling back in time to some of the most historic events meaningful while becoming immersed in the experience like never before. VR in education may have some of the biggest future implications.
Augmented Reality in Healthcare
If you thought VR was all about the entertainment industry, then you haven’t heard much about its vast implications in healthcare. VR is improving the lives of both patients and doctors in a variety of ways.
The current opioid crisis has left doctors searching for new ways for pain management. When it comes to pain management, it is known that distraction can improve acute pain. Now with VR, it is known that this type of virtual distraction can also be used to treat chronic pain.
This works for two reasons. First, being fully immersed in a beautiful, relaxing, virtual world is the ideal way to take a patient’s mind off the pain, therefore lessening it. Second, VR can increase the effectiveness of other treatments – in this case meditation. Individuals are much more likely to meditate when they are in a peaceful state, such as in a virtual paradise.
- Mental Health
The benefits of virtual reality don’t stop with physical health and pain. One of the first uses in the medical field was with mental health patients. Those with conditions ranging from PTSD to schizophrenia have benefitted from VR. In a similar way to pain management, VR creates a place for these individuals to escape to.
These worlds are often less difficult, less depressing, and less anxiety-reducing, to help lessen their symptoms with the disorders. This is a much better alternative than anti-psychotic medications, or even going into rehab or therapy facilities, which can still cause anxiety.
Although assisted living is meant to assist the lives of those who need the most care, it can unintentionally have the opposite effect. Many individuals in assisted living experience the isolation-trap in which they spend significant time alone, in their rooms, without interacting with anyone. This is often due to feeling left out from the rest of the world, especially family when living in assisted care facilities.
The solution? Virtual reality. VR can bridge the gap between isolation and freedom. Individuals can visit scenes from their past, travel to destinations around the world, and experts believe that it may even be used as a platform for community building, in which other individuals can connect virtually. These experiences are far from isolating and can improve the quality of life for assisted living individuals.
Augmented Reality in Grocery
Most people aren’t aware that in some places, like France, you can already buy your groceries in a VR world and have them delivered to you, without ever leaving the comfort of your home. This is different from simply online shopping because VR allows you to virtually walk down the aisles and hand pick your food.
Also Read: Best VR Headsets for Pro Gamers in 2019
The technology has not been completed for produce yet since produce must be chosen individually based on the quality. Some places have experimented with the idea, which includes a virtual assistant informing buyers about the quality of the produce. All this can be done while the total appears on your screen.
Other Implications of VR
Virtual reality is quickly becoming a common reality in a variety of industries. Industries are noticing the potential benefits of VR and quickly capitalizing. Other industries that rely on AR and VR include space exploration, museums, courtrooms, and the military. Between education, shopping, and your health and beauty routines VR could be utilized in almost every part of your day.
That’s why investments in a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift are well worth the investment, so don’t let the sticker price shock you. We may not want to permanently live in a virtual world, but the benefits of VR are too good to ignore.