Virtual Reality attempts to go commercial

LAS VEGAS – Virtual reality and augmented reality have certainly made their case in the gaming market, and have staked a claim in media and entertainment as well. But there remains a huge chasm between commercial grade VR and AR and consumer grade – and few companies have warmed up to VR or AR from a commercial perspective as a result.

According to Frank Azor, VP & GM of Alienware and Dell XPS, the goal is to hit 90 frames per second. At 90 frames per cent, he believes, commercial VR solutions will hit the mainstream.

“If you are looking for a house online. You will have gone through those 360 degree views which can make a broom closet look like a great room. VR needs that emotional connection to work commercially. With cars, VR can help you pick the colour, but also the upholstery inside,” he said.

Dell is creating VR centres of excellence for customers and channel partners to try out different VR and AR machines which can help them find the right equipment for the project. They are also working on a technology partner program for VR. “We don’t want people to over buy or under buy for VR,” he said.

Imaging a petrol chemical plant using immersive VR to see a day shift with a 360-degree perspective and then compare that with the night shift. “The best way to describe VR is to put them inside of it. Show them their particular vertical industry and in 10 minutes you’ll have a convert,” he said.

The market forecast for commercial VR/AR does look promising for commercial. ABI Research reported that by 2020 the top vertical for VR/AR will not be gaming or media and entertainment but industrial at 35.5 per cent followed by healthcare at 18.5 per cent.

Next up is military at 10 per cent. Gaming came in fourth at 8 per cent tied with retail. Other markets for VR/AR are education at 6.1 per cent, tourism at 5.7 per cent, transportation at 5.2 per cent. Coming in last is media & entertainment at three per cent.

“There is a new frontier for commercial VR in engineering, design, manufacturing, architectural visualization, simulation and military applications, medical research, diagnosis and therapy, legal with crime reconstruction, virtual workspace and collaboration, education and virtual travel. This is an exciting space for partners and we want partners to collaborate on joint ventures for the oil & gas sector and healthcare,” he added.

In Erik Day’s Direct2Dell blog, he wrote virtual reality dates to as early as 1838. However, in 1987, Jaron Lanier coined the term “Virtual Reality”. Lanier’s company, VPL, was the first to sell VR goggles, called the “Eyephone 1” and “Eyephone HRX.”

Day says that whole businesses are being built around VR.

For example, 30 Ninjas, a digital entertainment company that creates 360-degree VR content, deployed Dell Precision Workstations 7910 to shoot four jobs live on the Conan O’Brien show – running three major creative workflows through the machine without any breakdowns or crashes.

Day has learned that even small businesses are adopting virtual reality because VR can be a cost saving solution.

One example Day gave is in architecture and design. Architects and designers can use VR to show clients walk throughs before building their dream house.

The future of VR can be limitless. Day provided other examples in his blog such as online dating.

“Dating Web sites have traditionally used pictures and chats to allow people to interact. VR will revolutionize the business as users will be able to now have intriguing experiences in different environments to get to know each other.”

VR can also help save the planet. Day sited 3DLive, a small business, that uses Dell hardware and VR for the Lonely Whale Foundation.

3DL Live deployed Dell Precision and Alienware machines to produce an underwater VR expedition called Cry Out: The Lonely Whale Experience.

“Using AMD-powered Alienware Area 51 desktops and Dell Precision 7910 workstations, 3D Live was able to build an experience unlike any other – enabling users to swim with whales and truly gain an understanding of the crisis,” Day wrote in his May 2nd, blog post.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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