More companies start recognizing the potential of augmented and virtual reality

Michał Duszczyk, "Rzeczpospolita", 12 September 2017 

INNOVATIONS | AR and VR technologies, which have so far been associated mainly with entertainment, will increasingly be used in business. The medical, real estate, logistics and tourism sectors have already invested in it. And this is just the beginning of the revolution.

By the year 2021, goggles used by the technologies of augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will reach 81 million to nearly 100 million buyers - predicts IDC and CCS Insight. The demand for these devices is expected to grow at an average of 56% annually. Experts have no doubt that the AR and VR market has a bright future ahead. Gartner analysts have no doubts: they are the key technologies of the coming years. And they listed them next to artificial intelligence or internet of things.

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Gremi Park - this is where the first center for the development of augmented and virtual reality technology is created in our country

Gigantic potential
Today's work on virtual reality is more advanced. The makers of video games are using this technology on a massive scale, and the segment is given momentum by Facebook, HTC or Sony, whose Oculus, Vive and PS VR goggles are getting under the roofs more frequently. There is still a barrier in the price of such devices, but, as George Jijiashvili, a CCS Insight analyst, says, manufacturers are starting to lower them, and soon VR will become widely used. And not just in the consumer market, but also in the business.
“VR is being used in the entertainment and education industries already, and due to the rapid growth we can expect that this technology will soon enter other industries,” said Rafał Suchożebrski, Sales Director at Onex Group.

Among others, the potential of this technology has recently been recognized by Steven Spielberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. The director invested in the startup of Dreamscape Immersive, which wants to introduce virtual technology to cinemas. The famous actor, in turn, became a shareholder in the company developing solutions for capturing real-time face mimics of the users of the VR goggles. Examples of such investments are rapidly increasing, also in our country. This is evidenced by the involvement of the Erne Ventures fund in the native VR Visio startup.
Many point out that even greater potential lies in the technologies of augmented reality. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook are involved in it. It is estimated that next year their AR platform (Apple ARKit, Google ARCore, Facebook Camera Effects) will have even 0.9 billion devices in their bases (including smartphones using AR technology). “Augmented reality has unlimited development potential,” comments Paweł Grzyb, an expert at Konica Minolta Business Solutions.

He argues that AR will increasingly be used in business, driving its development. “AR is already an element of the work of architects, machinery and devices designers and trainers training professional drivers, engineers or doctors. We anticipate that the so-called CPS (cyber-physical system), connecting the digital world to the physical world will be increasingly popular. Solutions based on augmented reality will be a step ahead of the competition,” he adds.
Konica Minolta develops its own AR glasses named Weareable Communicator. “If the factory equips its production line workers with these goggles, it can easily tell you how to assemble a device or verify that a component is installed correctly,” explains Pawel Grzyb.

New challenges
However, there are still many challenges to be tackled by not only engineers but also lawyers. Lena Marcinoska from Wardyński & Partners argues that the proliferation of AR and VR can spark controversy even with intellectual property rights and the principles of fair competition.
“We can imagine that a trademark of a particular company placed on the product, due to actions of a dishonest competitor, activates a digital overlay in the world of VR and AR, which obscures or distorts this sign or substitutes it for a completely different one, misleading the audience. The use of AR may also lead to generation of other content and information in the advertising message than the actual content,” explains Marcinoska.
In her opinion, given the enormous potential of practical application of AR in other areas, such as architecture and construction, it must be assumed that there will be more of these problems “It is possible that soon the matter of digital distortion, the build-up of reality will begin to be heard in courts,” she points out.
According to the attorney of Wardyński & Partners, as AR technology is becoming widely used we may also need to rethink certain economic agreements, such as the use of intellectual property rights. “These problems will probably have to be addressed by lawyers and entrepreneurs who commercialize their intellectual property,” adds Lena Marcinoska.

The Polish Center of AR and VR is born
There is no doubt that the augmented and virtual reality will soon become as obvious as everyday internet access. And our country can become an important point on the map of the development of these technologies. Their center in Poland is currently being built nearby Kraków - at the cost of around € 100 million. It is Gremi Park, the latest investment of Grzegorz Hajdarowicz, the main shareholder of KCI (owned by Gremi Media, publisher of "Rzeczpospolita"). He bought a futuristic Alvernia Studio’s complex, and in a facility previously associated with the most modern film studio in Poland he plans to create a center for education, development and entertainment in AR and VR technology.

What is the potential of new technologies?
This question will be asked by experts and practitioners of the augmented and virtual reality industry, who meet on 24 October in Nieporaz near Kraków. There, in Gremi Park complex, a “VR & AR Tech Summit”, where experts will discuss trends and future directions for developing these technologies and their impact on specific industries and sectors, will take place. There are three thematic paths planned: AR/VR in video games and in medicine, as well as a special section devoted to Polish startups creating solutions in the field of augmented and virtual reality.
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Daniel Dombach
Industry Solutions Director EMEA, Zebra Technologies
According to a survey by Bitkom AR, VR and the so-called mixed reality will translate into an additional € 88 million in B2B sector revenue by 2020. In case of deployments, updates and new applications this figure may exceed € 750 million. This may seem surprising as these technologies have not yet reached a breakthrough point in both commercial and industrial applications, but the first examples of AR applications in enterprise-class mobile computers have produced promising results. Logistic companies, instead of focusing on robots, should focus on how to support human work in more efficient task management. The technology that can help them is AR, which uses data streams and turns them into images that are displayed live. Head-mounted displays in conjunction with the sensor and camera system allow companies to optimize the loading process by pointing to the most efficient location of the package in the trailer, for example.

Lucjan Sosna
Director of Software Development, Saber Polska
AR and VR are already changing the landscape of the tourism industry. From cockpit simulators for pilots to the presentation of the hotel offer, to the extension of reality with a location-specific digital content. We explore new technologies to identify how they can be used in the travel industry and how to improve the experience of travelers. One of the most important aspects - from the point of view of users - is the development of AR tools on smartphones. They allow real-time language translation based on text images or voice. The applications may also overlap the sights seen, showing how they looked in the past. We expect that more tools will be created that use the AR content assigned to the location. They will be an additional attraction to hotels and museums. AR is one of the main trends in the coming years.

Anna Wesołowska
expert, Microsoft
VR and AR are storming the world of entertainment, marketing, construction and industry. Further development of these technologies is an unchecked card. Much depends on how quickly particular sectors, such as medicine or the military, will be inclined to their comprehensive implementation and use in a different way than today including broadly adapting the Big Data - data processing solutions or the internet of things. The business that is accelerating thanks to VR and AR is automotive industry. Thanks to the HoloLens goggles from Microsoft the Ford brand has moved up a gear. Car designers can visualize the project before they materialize it in a model. Up unil now the project has been subject to a labor- and cost-intensive process. It introduces previously unknown potential for quick response to change to the industry. Investments in VR and AR are on the list of Microsoft priorities. They have the potential to change business models and streamline processes within the organization. The only limit will be imagination.