Top 5 trends in AR and VR for 2019

Published 07 February 2019, 11:02

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been touted as technologies likely to change our lives. Over the next year, both VR and AR applications will become increasingly sophisticated. 

Here are 5 trends in AR and VR for 2019:

  1. VR and AR will be used in training and teaching

Both technologies have obvious use cases in education. Virtual environments allow students to practice anything from construction to flight to surgery without the risks associated with real-world training. While augmented environments mean, information can be passed to the student in real time on objectives, hazards or best-practice.

Walmart recently announced that it is using 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to train its employees in skills ranging from compliance to customer service. Staff will learn to use the new Pickup Tower automated vending units in virtual environments before they are deployed in stores.

Also, the US Army has announced a deal with Microsoft to use its HoloLens technology in military training, meaning soldiers will get real-time readings on their environment. Currently, this includes readouts to provide real-time metrics on soldier performance such as data about heart and breathing rates, but research objectives are to develop pathfinding, target acquisition and mission planning.

As VR and AR both continue to prove their worth at reducing risk and cost associated with training, it is likely we will see an increasingly rapid pace of adoption in industries involving work with expensive tools and equipment, or hazardous conditions, throughout 2019.

  1. AR use in vehicles increases

Two of the most significant trends in new vehicles in 2019 will be voice assistants – with most major manufacturers implementing their takes on Alexa and Siri – and in-car AR.

Powered by machine learning, Nvidia’s DriveAR platform uses a dashboard-mounted display overlaying graphics on camera footage from around the car, pointing out hazards and historic landmarks along the road. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, and Volvo have all signed up to work with DriveAR.

Alibaba-backed startup WayRay projects AR data directly onto the car windshield, giving navigation prompts, rlane identification, and hazard detection.

In-car AR has the potential to improve safety – bas well as increase comfort and driver convenience. In a few years, we will wonder how we ever lived without it.


  1. Rise of Social VR and AR 

Social AR startups such as Spatial are leading the way with AR tools for the boardroom and office, where users can see virtual whiteboards and pin boards, as well as working collaboratively on documents overlaid on real-world objects.

This year, Facebook’s VR Spaces platform, might move out of beta, and Tencent has announced that it is looking into adding VR to its WeChat messaging service.

2019 might be the year we experience meeting and interacting with realistic representations of our friends and family in VR, for the first time.

  1. Consumer Entertainment VR hits the mainstream

VR adoption in homes has been growing steadily, but hardware and application developers haven’t come close to creating the VR “killer app.”

Previous generations of VR headsets have been limited by either by the user having to be tethered to a big computer to power the experience, hence limiting our mobility and therefore the sense of immersion, or by relying on relatively low-powered mobile tech to control stand-alone headsets, meaning graphics quality is low.

This year, stand-alone headsets incorporating powerful computer technology will be sold from both Vive and Oculus. VR developers will create more realistic and accurate simulations of our real world within their virtual worlds. This will mean more immersive experiences and an unprecedented level of realism in VR.

As well as being mobile, the new generation of headsets will improve the technology by including eyeball-tracking and increased field-of-view. Again, this will help users feel they can interact and explore in more natural ways.

Amazon lists over 200 different VR headsets available to buy, many of them being created by startups promising new features and functionality that could end up being game-changers.


  1. AI with AR & VR 

Computer vision – an AI (artificial intelligence) technology which allows computers to understand what they are “seeing” through cameras, is essential to the operation of AR, allowing objects in the user's field of vision to be identified and labeled. We can expect the machine learning algorithms that enable these features to become increasingly sophisticated and capable.

Snapchat and Instagram filters are a very consumer-facing application of AI tech combined with AR. Their popularity in these and various other applications of image enhancement functionality isn’t likely to dwindle in 2019.

Google’s machine learning-enabled microscope can highlight tissue which it suspects could be a cancerous tumor growth as a pathologist is looking at samples through the viewfinder.

Virtual environments are likely to become increasingly intelligent over the next year to include more voice control stemming from AI natural language processing, increasing immersion by reducing the reliance on icons and menus intruding into the virtual world. VR games will also become more challenging as computer-controlled opponents will also more effectively react and adapt to individual play styles.


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