Virtual & Augmented Reality: 6 Trends That Will Be Huge in 2018

vr trends 2018

Virtual & Augmented Reality: 6 Trends That Will Be Huge in 2018

2017 already saw Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality changing the way we work and live.

As technology continues warp speed ahead, VR and AR will continue to integrate ever more seamlessly into our environments.

Here are 6 AR and VR Trends we see as game changers in 2018.

VR/AR Social Media

One common criticism of VR is that it isolates the viewer from the outside world.

But where one sees isolation, we see the possibility of meeting up, talking, and exchanging information and ideas in whole new way. These types of interactions will be memorable if just for the places it allows us to play in.

Vr trends 2018

Right now, the two major players in social VR are Facebook and AltSpaceVR – but both currently live in the VR space and AR social has yet to be fully worked out (also worth mentioning is UK-based vTime).

For a glimpse of what Facebook is up to in the Social VR space, check out this short video.

“VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want,” Mark Zuckerberg said during a speech at MWC. “Right now, it is mostly used for gaming. But that’s evolving, and that’s why Facebook is investing so much in VR, so we can deliver these new social experiences. VR is going to be the next social platform.”

Vr trends 2018

As the move toward more video-centric social media continues (Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, Snapchat), VR/AR just seems like the next logical step.

As headsets become smaller, less expensive, and more integrated over the next year, we’ll begin to see more and more consumers adopting the tech. Here, Augmented Reality can bridge the gap – consumers can use their existing smartphone technologies to enhance their worlds, without the need to use a headset.

Currently, Social VR is more like IRC in the early days – fairly basic avatars operated by early pioneers in the space. However, as mixed and augmented reality offer a way to be present in ‘both’ worlds at the same time, we may see a social future in which our offices are simultaneously serving as our virtual clubs and coffee shops.

Want to take social one step further? Check out the video below for Hypatia – the world’s first Virtual Reality city or take a more in-depth dive of what it’s like to go out in in Social VR.

VR/AR Museums

One of the most transformative applications for VR and AR is education.

Recent reports from the National Endowment for the Arts recorded an 8% drop in US adults who visited art musems in the past 2 decades. What’s more is that millenials are on a sharp decline when it comes to museum-going outings.

What happens when there is too much competition for leisure? How can educational foundations such as museums keep up?

It’s time for 20,000 year-old artifacts to catch up to 21st century tech.

Vr trends 2018

Imagine walking into The Louvre, holding up your phone to snap a photo of the Mona Lisa, and through your screen she is waving back at you with the latest Ray-bans on.

Too much? Maybe. But museums must find new ways to engage and excite visitors.

Vr trends 2018

Intel recently teamed up with The Smithsonian to recreate one wing of the museum at room scale VR (meaning you can walk around as if you were there).

What’s more is that you can have additional experiences within each painting or exhibit.

Looking at a photo of the Aurora Borealis? Now you can jump into the picture and view a 360-degree video of the aurora in Iceland.

Love Salavdor Dali? Take a trippy trip through his artwork and experience surrealism first hand.

Of course, these concepts can work in Augmented Reality, as well. See that giant Mammoth skeleton in the Grand Hall? Hold up that tablet of yours and watch as it animates into a living creature surrounded by it’s natural habitat.

“I feel that digital is not something that sits to the side,” says Catherine Devine, chief digital officer at the American Museum of Natural History. “It has to be really integrated into the physical experience. It has to augment it and add a layer that you don’t have with the physical space.”

Vr trends 2018

VR Cinemas (Location-Based Experiences)

The world’s first Virtual Reality Cinema is opening in the Netherlands this year, Samsung and Six Flags are creating VR roller coasters, and IMAX just invested millions in VR Arcades.

The time for immersive, location-based experiences is upon us!

Vr trends 2018

So what can you expect from location-based experiences and VR cinema?

Well, for starters, don’t expect to be seated in a darkened room all facing the same direction. Instead, imagine a theater packed with swivel chairs, each donned with the latest Samsung Gear tech. You are no longer third-party to the movie, you’re in it.

For example, The Mummy VR experience and the film were intentionally launched simultaneously so people could watch Tom Cruise battle against armies of mummies and then reenact an actual scene from the movie and test out his moves themselves.

While traditional movie nights focus on the social experience of seeing the same movie at the same time and then discussing the good and bad, VR Cinema seems to be directed more toward the tech and experience currently. As content creators and directors find unique ways to tell stories in the virtual reality space, we see this trend shifting over the next year.

“When the first cinematic show took place at the end of the 19th century, nobody could imagine that film would grow into one of today’s most important ways of communication and entertainment,” VR Cinema founder Jip Samhoud told VentureBeat. “I predict that virtual reality has the same future in the offing.”

Enterprise Training

Enterprise VR/AR have already proven to be one of the most readily adaptable applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality.

This is largely due to capability and desire of large organizations to make large up-front investments in technology that will drastically reduce costs and defects down the line. Additionally, VR/AR offers the opportunity to provide tightly controlled and meticulously crafted experiential education and training for employees; improving performance and morale and decreasing the rate of employee turnover.

Vr trends 2018

Beyond training and education, other major VR/AR applications within the enterprise sector include Modeling; which is exceptionally valuable to those companies using or looking to implement more of an iterative design process, thus reducing overall waste and shortening the length of the design cycle by giving designers the ability to view, test and alter design elements in real time.

Another more obvious application is in sales; VR/AR gives consumers the ability to “try” before they buy, do side by side virtual comparisons of similar products, and eventually will allow consumers to “bring” products into their homes for virtual shopping experiences. In manufacturing Virtual and Augmented reality technology can help manufacturers get an idea of how their processes are performing, as it can help them spot problems and areas ripe for improvement.

Vr trends 2018

Within corporate travel and communications VR/AR will give executives from around the world the ability to meet one another’s avatars or holograms in virtual conference rooms…”help me Obi Wan Kenobi…” Field service improvements can be made seamlessly as experts and see what on-site technicians see and be able to offer recommendations and support in real time. Data visualization capabilities will give analysts the ability to bring large data sets to life and the ability to interact with the data in ways that will yield deeper insights.

Finally, and perhaps the most eagerly anticipated is the truly immersive holographic experience where people will be able to project “virtual offices” into any space, truly transforming the notion of working from home or working nomadically; what’s more is that for companies this would drastically reduce overhead property, fixture and personnel costs over time.

AR/VR Retail & Shopping Experiences

Virtual and Augmented Reality can be seen simultaneously the cherry picker savior within the retail industry.

Vr trends 2018

Brick and mortar retail has steadily been on the decline since the invention of the internet and online shopping. Storefronts and malls are closing their doors rapidly as retail giants like Amazon out-complete in nearly every category from Customer Service to Selection.

Additionally, many organizations are opting for their own online businesses to reduce costs and overhead.

Vr trends 2018

Where Virtual and Augmented Reality come in will truly revolutionize the shopping experience, by creating what many would consider to be the “ideal” retail experience; bringing an actual “store” with all its products into your own home, complete with artificially intelligent and customizable (or perhaps even mute-able) “sales associates.”

Imagine being able to project different styles of couches into your living room, or paint your entire walls with the color of your choice or “trying” on an outfit thanks to the help of digital avatars and/or holograms. VR/AR will create the ultimate ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience.

Vr trends 2018

VR Therapy & Medicine

Perhaps one of the most exciting and anticipated trends and applications for Virtual and Augmented Reality is that within the therapeutic and health care/medicinal fields.

Humanity has long been on the journey of self-discovery and self-actualization. Most if not all people would agree that improving their lives would be at the top of the list of their priorities.

Vr trends 2018

VR/AR technologies will enable the democratization of high cost health and wellness services like therapy, while also bridging the gap between mainstream consumers and more esoteric forms of wellness like meditation, by making them more asessable.

Vr trends 2018

What’s even more exciting are the possibilities within medicine as VR/AR tech will make it possible for doctors and technicians to “see inside” the human body, in real time holographic models; thus making diagnostics, prognosis and surgical procedures drastically more precise. Imagine being a cardiothoracic surgeon operating on a mass on a patient’s heart while having a live holograph of that very patient’s heart projected life size right next to the operating table.

Thus far, VR/AR technology has proven to be a viable alternative treatment for addictions, depression, phobias, PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Currently, the primary limiting factor to this application currently, is our still limited (and growing) understanding of our bodies and particularly our brains.

Vr trends 2018

However, through the collection of new data through VR/AR technologies and the ability to work with that data in new and compelling ways using that same technology, VR/AR will actually help us arrive at deeper insights faster and more efficiently. Looking ahead to most promising applications of AR/VR technology in the fields of Therapy and Medicine are training and education, surgical planning, telementoring, patient experience (e.g. pain management alternative to anesthesia), therapy and AR enhanced surgical procedures.

The new wave of human-optimization is here!

Did we miss any trends you think should be mentioned? Leave your 2018 AR and VR trends in the comments below!

Kris Kish
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