AR och VR – the visual learning aids of the future

AR och VR – the visual learning aids of the future

Staffan Hagberg, Chief Marketing Officer
Staffan Hagberg, Chief Marketing Officer

“Extended Reality” is a term used to collectively describe real and virtual combined environments. It consists of augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Industry experts believe that, together, these immersive technologies will disrupt the way businesses and even whole industries will operate in the future. Healthcare, entertainment, automotive and education are four industries predicted to be most affected by this powerful technology.

Education is a key field when it comes to XR, particularly VR and AR. The way we learn has not evolved greatly for decades. While the formats have varied to a degree, the main methods are still largely the same. The use of XR can vastly overhaul and improve the way that we learn, not just in schools, but in the workplace too. XR has already begun to catch the attention of higher educational institutions as they seek new ways to attract students, cut costs, and compete in a crowded field.

What is VR?

VR stands for virtual reality, and is a computer technology that enables the user to enter a rendered 3D world. This simulated environment has infinite conditions and can therefore be designed to be grounded in reality or completely fictional.

What is AR?

AR stands for augmented reality, which means that technology enters our everyday lives and complements what we see with the help of computerized images. This form of technology does not have as large an interface as VR technology, but should be seen as an addition to what we see as well as experience.

New technology, but still not

The technology that offers VR/AR has developed at a rapid pace in recent years and has thus become more “mainstream”. The fact is that this technique has existed for a long time. Already in 1962 the first VR experience was test-run by filmmaker Morton Heillig, but then the phenomenon was called Sensorama. In this scenario, the user drove a motorcycle through the streets of Brooklyn, with the help of several aids such as vibrating seat, stereo sound and fan, the first VR experience was created.

The first AR aid was launched significantly later in 1992 and was developed for the U.S. Air Force by Louis Rosenberg. This was primarily for training pilots and was used for a training purpose.

Already here we can see that these two forms of technology were cemented into different areas – VR towards a more entertainment goal as well as AR with a focus on education. However, the rapidly evolving technology within these two forms of experience has resulted in the original uses being mixed among themselves.

Attitude of the school system towards digitalisation and the impact of the pandemic

In today’s digitized age, people at a young age are taking part in technology. Despite this, the school system has lagged behind with more proven analogue methods of learning. As society becomes increasingly digitized and reaches more socially important functions, the school system is also affected.

When the Covid-19 pandemic sounded the alarm around the world, physical classrooms were quickly converted to digital meeting places using services such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. This forced the school system to take advantage of digital methods in order for daily teaching to continue. The result of this was that digital methods of learning got a real boost and where the school system began to observe alternative methods of learning. The younger generation is already familiar with technology and therefore very receptive to VR and AR’s implementation within an educational purpose.

The use of VR and AR technology in special education has proven to be very broad. This is mainly for students who have ADHD, difficulty concentrating, autism or motivation problems1. The technology enables to stage various situations from everyday life and thus de-dramatize these. The result of this is that the student should be better prepared and thus experience less stress when dealing with these scenarios.

The technology's applications for other segments of the public sector

The technology’s applications can also be applied in, for example, the police, the Armed Forces or the prison service. With the help of technology, it is possible for the training leader to tailor situations for people in these professions. Professions like these are heavily based on unforeseen scenarios and where technology can play a vital role in prevention and training. The user learns decision-making, action based on the situation and the emotional experience that can come under high stress.

In the prison service, the technology can be used to acclimatize inmates who have been detained for a long time. This can include such banal situations as going shopping in a store, riding public transport or similar everyday situations.

The technique is currently used as a form of therapy for inmates with aggression problems. The concept originated in the Netherlands under the name Vrapt, which stands for viritual reality aggression prevention training. The concept is based on three different parts, a system that runs the VR experience itself, a tablet controlled by staff and a VR headset.

The concept of Metaverse and the part of technology in this

When Mark Zuckerberg coined the term Metaverse 3, it quickly became a major talking point in tech circles. The idea of the Metaverse should not be seen as a new platform but more as a fiefdom of the internet as we know it today. The Metaverse will presumptively consist of different 3D-resistant worlds where users can meet without being tied to the same geographical point.

VR and AR’s technology will be a big part of how the Metaverse is used and experienced. The question to ask is how far the development of VR/AR has come once the Metaverse becomes a reality. At present, the technology is not sufficiently well developed for it to succeed in being produced cheaply and where the common man has the opportunity to use the full potential of the Metaverse.

The cost of AR and VR

The cost of a VR/AR experience can differ greatly. Occulus Rift and similar quality-assured VR products can cost you 6000 to 8000 SEK, however, there are cheaper alternatives. The Oculus Quest 2 is one of the affordable substitutes on the market, with a cost of 3000 SEK.

For those who do not want to break the piggy bank further, there are low-cost applications as well as free versions that allow for virtual visits to other countries, such as Rome and Tokyo. There are also applications for experiencing historical events as well as eras, something that can be implemented within the study system for a small sum.

How is the technology used today?

Today, VR technology has established itself and become more commercially oriented towards games and experiences. This is mainly based on the fact that the technology of creating a rendered world is cheaper than creating an interface for ours, which AR does. A lot has to do with companies like Occulus Rift and HTC that have managed to create a product that is cost-effective enough for tech enthusiasts to jump on the VR bandwagon.

AR technology created a huge trend when Pokemon Go was launched in 20163. With 250 million monthly users, the public got to experience a free version of what AR can accomplish. In fact, this launch put AR on the map and has contributed to the technology continuing to evolve at a rapid pace.

Google also tried to launch its own version of AR technology, which unfortunately flopped properly3. The $1500 price tag, a battery life of 3 to 5 hours and a very ugly design resulted in the product never really breaking through as intended. The launch of the product’s uses was also not established, this was a product that would be used throughout the waking hours of the day or solely for specific functions. Would it be a fashion statement or would it be used in a company’s day-to-day operations.

Final words

There are several companies that have embraced the technology around VR/AR and enabled consumers to take advantage of this in alternative forms. Animech is a company that offers businesses digital visualization of its products. This enables the consumer to take part in a 3D representation of the product and where the interfaces for design are deep. With the explosive growth of e-commerce, this is an important tool for the consumer where the physical preview of the product is missing.

Animech’s collaboration with Volkswagen is a good example of this. Volkswagen Sweden needed to entice potential buyers to pre-book their new flagship model Arteon, without the prospects test-driving the car. To enable this, Animech used its proprietary software
Aniconfigurator and with its solid in-house knowledge of 3D.

With in-house expertise and an HTC Vive headset, Animech managed to create a complete experience that was used in showrooms around the country. The result was a real-time car configuration where the customer was given the opportunity to explore the car externally as well as internally and where configuration and design were at the customer’s disposal.

Animech is a pioneer in VR/AR technology and will continue to expand and spread its expertise in new areas where the service can be implemented. Thus, we are a name to remember as knowledge and the technology’s areas of application expand.

Do you want more information about how VR/AR can be implemented in your business? Book a free demo with one of our experts today.