In the world of technology, convergence is the logical step. Do you remember how many gadgets we used to carry around? Pager, camcorder, handheld gaming devices, GPS tracker, Walkman (ah those were fun!)... We ended up merging all of them into one: our magical smartphone! It’s only normal to develop technologies and merge them later for a better result! Because honestly, what kind of bag is big enough to carry all of that?
Nowadays, our smartphones are not even perceived as a modern innovation anymore. When we talk about “modern innovation” we don’t directly think about our smartphones, we tend to think about technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). One aims to create an alternate reality for us and actually makes ours better. The other tries to equip computers with perception and insight of a sentient being. Over the years, both of these technologies have come a long way and combining them might unravel infinite possibilities. Both AI and VR are great technologies in their own right. However, further greatness lies in convergence. If different industries can come together, they can stitch together AI-powered virtual environments which won’t be much different from the reality. No wonder we are already calling it Extended Reality (ER).
The biggest names in the tech industry are battling to power the next generation of entertainment, education, and communication; Facebook, for instance, acquired Oculus to make the next social networking platform. Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) has in-built virtual spaces that allow AI researchers to train a model to understand digital spaces.
The technical complexity behind compelling VR/AR experiences will soon be boosted by AI and the progress this will drive is by no means artificial.. AI is definitely making VR more real and solving some of the challenges VR was facing.
All of this is possible due to the recent developments in AI, particularly deep learning, that foster real-time image and speech recognition, increased availability and reduced cost of local processing and storage, expanding network bandwidth, allowing richer data streams, and availability of AI in the cloud. Just like 5G and the impact, it will have on VR, AI promises a lot :
- Optimization and rendering issues related to VR, for example, will be a far-off memory.
- Our understanding of how we can navigate and interact in a VR environment will also evolve, making the experience more and more natural. Adoption of voice control will be the norm moving forward which will significantly decrease the use of icons and menus in a virtual environment making it more suitable for training and teaching as well as a more performant environment when it comes to collaboration platforms.
We can already witness some real use cases that have been implemented in the security sector to flag people for a security guard, for example, or also in the experimenting fields to reduce human error rates through AR and VR simulations of dangerous tasks.
MR powered by AI aka ER is an incredible technology that will make various experiences even more interactive and engaging and will help it open doors to thousands of new opportunities for both businesses and consumers.