A few years ago, no one could have ever imagined that we would have been able to attend a virtual concert or meet virtual friends in another world. But nowadays, the line between the real and the digital world continues to blur…
VR, AR and MR: definitions
Using VR glasses, Virtual Reality immediately transports you to a different environment where you can enjoy not only the sights and sounds of this new world but also get adrenaline rushes and have full immersive experiences like feeling the speed in a rally.
Augmented Reality instead adds digital content to your real life: for example, while strolling down the street, AR technology might display useful information to make your journey go more smoothly, such as details on cafes, restaurants, or petrol stations.
Finally, Mixed Reality is the technology that combines both real and interactive virtual elements at once: wearing a headset, you can immediately walk on the other side of the world while drinking a real coffee on your sofa, but also drinking the same coffee while “walking”.
According to Mordor Intelligence, “the global mixed reality market was valued at USD 553.27 million in 2020 and expected to reach USD 5811.09 million by 2026”. VR, AR and MR technology is indeed being adopted in a wide range of sectors, including retail, architecture, healthcare, sport, maritime and military training, automotive, and the entertainment industries.
In the retail industry
The implementation of AR technology is more and more common in the retail industry, since customers don’t have to wait in lines for fitting rooms to try those clothes on. Timberland shows a mirror image of its clients to let them see how the new items would fit; Gucci gives you the possibility to try shoes virtually at home; and Asos allows you to try on multiple sizes and choose the one that feels more comfortable to you. As seen, businesses have adapted to these new technologies, ensuring a better customer experience at all levels, worldwide.
At the supermarket
AR technology will be soon integrated in your grocery shopping as well. First, you can digitally fill in a shopping list with all you need beforehand so that all you have to do at the store is follow virtual indicators, add products to your basket (which are automatically added also on your cart) and simply walk out when you’re done, as the check out procedure will be automated. Walmart, a huge American corporation, already developed an app, Me@Walmart, to embrace AR technology and make our grocery shopping easier. But there is still a lot to discuss!
In architecture and in the design industry
Being considered a good alternative to save time and money, MR is also used by architects and interior designers to exhibit virtual versions of objects or furnishings to the clients directly on site, giving a full, exact picture of the final result. For this reason, according to experts, this is very helpful especially in renovation projects and construction projects from scratch. IKEA, which is one of the pioneers in this field, have launched a new AR application with which users can test IKEA’s items from everywhere, giving the possibility to customers to test their products directly from home. IKEA is embracing Mixed Reality technology also from another perspective, letting customers enjoy immersive experiences that we could have never imagined 15 years ago. Using AR technology, the Swedish giant is developing a smart table which displays directions and suggestions for reducing food waste and preparing healthy, tasty meals.
The use of MR in medical applications is broad: doctors use it in surgical procedures, but also at class. Because students may not always have access to a human cadaver, researchers and institutions use Mixed Reality technology to create 3D images that can be dissected and inspected from multiple perspectives, allowing students to investigate obstructed or concealed organs without having to remove others (as it would be on a real body).
MR also helps the sport industry create more personalized experiences for all the fans around the world, improving the customer journey. For example, AR entertains supporters both inside and outside the stadium. MX can instead display a race or cycling path to let people experience all the challenges of a specific competition. But this technology can also help athletes during their training: AR creates 3D simulations on the field, allowing them to practice certain situations with specific speed and gestures.
In the maritime and military industry
Mixed Reality also helps soldiers prepare for high-risk missions by providing cost-effective training: it can simulate risky events that could occur on the battlefield but without the risk of getting injured for real.
In the automotive industry
Ford was one of the first companies to implement MR in the automotive industry, in particular to design new models and prototypes (same happens with Volvo). BMW uses AR and VR in the development and production of vehicles to double check whether there are any errors or not. Porsche adopts VR technology to develop an in-car virtual reality ride in a moving vehicle: at the Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, customers can drive a car while simultaneously traveling to space: passengers will wear a VR headset and be transported to space where sounds are even tailored to the car’s movements.
In the entertainment industry
In the entertainment sector, mixed reality technology is employed in several different occasions, for example when one of the main stars appears remotely in trailer launches, but it also plays an important role in gaming (as demonstrated by the large number of users worldwide). Pokemon Go, which debuted in 2016, helped popularize AR technology worldwide and is now working on a 3D scan of the entire globe for “planet-scale augmented reality experiences”.
As seen, mixed reality is becoming increasingly common in our everyday lives, from grocery shopping to buying a pair of shoes or playing a game in your free time. “Farmers are even using virtual reality to keep their cows happy”, said writer Bernard Marr.
These technologies are definitely becoming a substantial part of our routine, letting many people think that the metaverse may happen in the near future. Facebook just changed its name to Meta as “the metaverse is the next evolution of social connection”, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Indeed, according to experts, metaverse is the new virtual reality platform where you can meet new people and play with old friends, take part in professional meetings and workshops, but also attend social events and shop for new clothes. All you have to do is create a 3D avatar in your image and likeness… or maybe not!
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Keep an eye out for our next article *HINT HINT* It’s something to do with Innovation management ;)
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- Lungwitz, C. (2022) “Porsche and holoride launch in-car virtual reality attraction in a moving vehicle”, The Media Portal by Porsche, 31 March.
- Marr, B. (2022) “How close are we to the metaverse?”, Bernardmarr.com, 29 March.
- Mileva, G. (2022) “50+ metaverse Statistics | Market Size & Growth (2022)”, Influencer Marketing Hub, 28 March.
- Moore, S. (2021) “Walmart’s Augmented Reality App is Perfectly Low-Key”, Debugger, 10 June.
- Mordor Intelligence (2022) “MIXED REALITY MARKET - GROWTH, TRENDS, COVID-19 IMPACT, AND FORECASTS (2022 - 2027)”, Mordor Intelligence.
- Naveen, J. (2019) “8 Future Mixed Reality Applications To Watch Out For”, Forbes, 3 November.
- Shyu, M., Mai, I., Xie, F. (2018) “A New Design Paradigm in Mixed Reality: Using HoloLens for Architectural Design”, Autodesk University, 13 April.