Exploring Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Applications, Challenges and Outlooks

By: Eddie Metzger, Evan Bedwell, and Gannon Clifford


Introduction

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been emerging technologies for the last 50-years [1], [2]. However, with the more recent advancements in computer processing speeds and wireless networking, the opportunity to commercialize the technology has grown. Markets for augmented reality and virtual reality are appearing in many different industries but great strides have been addressed in manufacturing, healthcare and networking (including network engineering). Through the exploration of the industries and their latest applications, the opportunities and challenges for the future of AR and VR become clearer. This report examines growing trends in the aforementioned industries. In manufacturing, the growth and implementation of VR training programs to use in training and prototyping have become more prominent [3], [4]. Additionally, as a part of manufacturing, we specifically see utilizations in the design, simulation, and testing of different automobile and machine models.

Just like manufacturing, the healthcare industry is utilizing VR for training purposes. Like simulation in manufacturing, healthcare practitioners may be surgically trained in a virtual environment to save on resources. Other simulations include combining VR experiences with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to interact with a fictional dementia patient in order to train practitioners on how to successfully interact with real-world patients [5].

Finally, AR solutions have been utilized in the networking and network engineering roles. With so many different responsibilities in the industry, the opportunities to implement the technology have increased to facilitate a growing wage gap. For example, mobile augmented reality (MAR) technologies are being used in virtual redlining systems to enable in-the-field engineers to quickly see and understand the placement of their infrastructure. MAR technologies are also being used in the management of data centers across the country. In this scenario, a user my use their mobile device to discover and quickly address security concerns in a data center [6].

The future of VR and AR is growing as the implementation of new wireless networking technologies proposes to greatly reduce any latency and bandwidth errors that exist now. Fifth-generation wireless (5G) will introduce greater networking speeds and improved data transmissions, opening the door for many industries to truly take advantage of the technology. More so, entirely different protocols, such as “named data networking,” [7] have been proposed to create more robust AR and VR environments.