Technology & Innovation

Harnessing the power of virtual and augmented reality


19 Oct 2022

New tech words and acronyms keep popping up with new discoveries and inventions in this era of the fourth industrial revolution also known as 4.0. While many eagerly keep up with new trends and words, others lag behind.

There’s the AI (Artificial Intelligence), GCS (Google Cloud Storage), VPC (Virtual Private Cloud), PPC (Pay Per Click), CPC (Cost Per Click), PR or Page Rank, GA (Google Analytics), ML for Machine Learning, DMS for Data Migration Service, FIFO (First In, First Out), IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) and so on.

Virtual Reality or VR was first mentioned in the 1950s contrary to the popular impression that it was discovered along with video games. In the 1960s, VR was commonly used for training and simulation in the US military and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In the early 1990s, mass production of VR systems began, led by Virtuality, which opened dedicated VR arcades.

Artificial Reality or AR, on the other hand, was developed in 1968 at Harvard University when computer scientist and “father of computer graphics,” Ivan Sutherland, created an head-mounted AR display system. In the decades that followed, national agencies, lab universities and companies, further advanced AR for wearables and digital displays. Early AR products were mainly used for simulations in aviation, military and industrial purposes.

In 2008, AR’s application changed overnight when BMW Mini used the technology on its ad to allow users to control the car on the screen and move it around to view different angles. This ad in Munich, Germany was among the first marketing campaigns to use the AR digital model.

In the years that followed, other major brands worldwide used the same technique to promote their products to engage customers at events or in public spaces.

So, what’s the major difference between AR and VR? 

AR uses real-world setting with only about 25% being virtual and AR users can control their presence in the real world, according to experts. In contrast, VR is 75% virtual and 25% real.
VR users are controlled by the system in a fictional or virtual reality settings. VR users must also use a headset device.

In today’s digital age, both AR and VR are utilised but the future appears to be using these technologies for applications with the “Metaverse” slowly gaining momentum.

In a 2016 Harvard Business Review article titled “The Mainstreaming of Augmented Reality: A Brief History,” author Ana Javornik pointed out that “AR has distinctly evolved to complement and transform the way users experience products and their surroundings. And it will continue to advance as people come to expect more from it.”

Research Javornik conducted with Dr. Chris Brauer of Goldsmiths, University of London, explored how this new generation of digital technologies are changing consumer experiences. Wearables and the Internet of Things have made consumers expect highly customised solutions and instant access to detailed personal data. And AR is reinforcing consumers’ appetite for compelling and creative visualisations of content.

VR is forecast to have more of a role in the evolving “metaverse” which is defined as a virtual world where people can live, work and play via an avatar. While this world doesn't actually exist yet, many tech companies, including Facebook (now known as META), are investing billions of dollars into developing the technology. 

The metaverse is a virtual-reality space where users interact with computer-generated environments and other users. It combines elements of social media, augmented reality, virtual reality, video games, cryptocurrencies, and other advanced technologies. And all these must be powered and backed up by etisalat by e&.

Dubai seeks to be the world’s best city in the virtual space with innovative services and an advanced regulatory and legislative framework for the sector. Current estimates expect business revenues from the metaverse could grow from US$180 billion to US$400 billion by 2025. Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) said it had entered the metaverse with the establishment of its Metaverse HQ, making it the first regulator to have a presence in the emerging digital space. 

The Dubai Metaverse Strategy aims to increase the contribution of the metaverse sector to US$4 billion by 2030 to Dubai’s economy and increase its contribution to Dubai’s GDP to 1 percent. A committee had since been created to track the latest developments in Dubai’s digital economy as the emirate plans to become a key player in the virtual world and is developing a regulatory and legislative framework for the sector.

Brace yourself for a blended world of virtual reality.