The term VR or AR already sounds familiar to the urban Homo sapiens, but its usefulness in daily life is limited. The exception to this rule was the Pokemon Go frenzy which gave us a sample of the impact that the Grail of digitization, virtual and augmented reality, may have on a social and economic level. In addition to VR or AR, XR (Extended Reality), Deepfakes and Al come strong from behind and promise to be part of our lives as soon as possible. If we still have no choice, let’s see what impact the realities of the future shall have on us.
By Ciprian Stanescu, Co-founder Social Innovation Solutions
VR shall be more popular than smartphones
According to Oxford Insights, in 20 years, virtual reality could be as used as smartphones today. The impact on society shall be one of the level of the technological Big Bang that the Internet has brought us.
The main fields in which Virtual and Augmented Reality are currently used are the military, medical, fashion, medical education, classical education, automotive, retail and real estate. Let’s imagine how we would feel when we want to buy a house and we can tour it as if we were in it, although it has not yet been built…
One of the most surprising applications of VR, fully used during the pandemic, is the one with a social role. Parties, birthdays, downtown outings? It can all happen now in virtual reality. Solutions like High Fidelity, vTime, AltspaceVR, Oculus Rooms and Parties, or VRChat have brought us closer, this year, to what networking events shall mean in the coming years.
How virtual reality can become
Experts in the field such as Ollie Rankin already see opportunities when it comes to interaction in virtual spaces: “We are addicted to our mobile phones. We use them in almost any daily activity: whenever we work, whenever we play, whenever we spend time with our family, whenever we watch TV. At this moment, the use of Virtual Reality does not allow us to have access to mobile phones at the same time. But what if that happens?”, Rankin says for Disrupt Magazine. What would it be like to be able to answer the phone in virtual reality or to have access to all applications on your personal phone? With more than 20 years of experience in VR, Ollie Rankin is an industry veteran, being known as a VR storyteller and special effects director for Lord of the Ring, Matrix Revolutions or X-Men. An active speaker in numerous international events, Ollie shall be present in Romania in the period between the 16th and the 20th of October, at Future Summit, to talk about realities of the future and how they shall be integrated into our daily lives.
“According to Statista, in the period during 2016 and 2019, investments in realities of the future have shifted their focus from the gaming industry to Health, Education, Retail and Marketing. A report published by the European Commission shows that the VR industry is valued at 34 billion dollars in Europe this year and is expected to produce between 225.000 and 480.000 new jobs,” says Ciprian Stanescu, a specialist in future trends and Co-founder of Social Innovation Solutions, an organization that provides consulting and facilitates strategic conversations for NGOs and corporations in social impact and innovation.
What is extended reality (XR) and when can we expect a boom
Extended reality refers to all real & virtual environments and to human-machine interactions generated by programs and algorithms. Extended reality includes all existing forms of technology such as Augmented Reality (RA), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR). The revolution of the XR industry leads to crossing the bridge of simulating reality directly to the creation of one from 0, completely virtual. “Physicists have been looking for parallel universes for many years. AR or VR are already extensive dimensions of our reality”, says Adrian Posteuca, one of the most important Romanian experts in XR.
The AI is the agent who changes the rules of the game. The application of intelligent algorithms in creating new virtual persons creates an intense debate on the cost that progress shall bring us. DeepFakes falls into the category of synthetic means of information generated by AI. Specifically, audiovisual information in a digital form that uses AI algorithms to create a completely new product, an exclusively digital reality.
Google is already generating extensive studies analyzing the predictability of human movements to provide enough data to replicate them. On the other hand, countries sufficiently aware of the business potential, such as South Korea, invest billions of dollars in AI and XR according to Techcrunch.
Economic boom – PwC estimates that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to deliver 1.4 trillion pounds to the global economy by 2030. The PwC analysis proves the potential to create more than 23 million jobs in innovative industries and training worldwide.
The medical sector could have the biggest boom, of more than 300 billion euros brought to the global GDP by 2030. Equally important is the application of VR / AR in training that shall provide an increase of more than 250 billion euros, supporting virtual education at an unprecedented rate.
Social impact – DeepFakes changes the perception we have of reality and creates a new threat to the stability of democracies. The Financial Times reveals how China and Russia are already using fake videos to create polarization and social tensions in the US. Their proliferation creates a reality in which social platforms become the main tool by the intermediary of which disinformation circulates with an unprecedented pace and a persuasion that is difficult to combat.
Who makes the law in Virtual Reality?
Beyond the mirage of new technologies, PwC UK draws attention also to the legal implications in their use. In addition to intellectual property, privacy and security assets, the biggest challenge that English experts draw attention to is the legislative framework in which Virtual Reality shall operate. For example, whenever experts from several countries form a team working in Virtual Reality, each of them refers to the legislation in his / her country when he / she does or does not do something.
Ciprian Stanescu is a specialist in future trends and Co-founder of Social Innovation Solutions, an organization that provides consulting and facilitates strategic conversations for NGOs and corporations in social impact and innovation.