Paul Milgram was the first to formulate the spectrum of existing realities more than 20 years ago – from the physical environment where the person can touch all the objects and feel their physical aspects, to virtual reality where all the objects look like real, but they are computer generated.

At the end of the ‘60s, American CG artist Myron Krueger formulated the term “virtual reality” or VR.  The computer simulation of the environment completely plugs the user into it with the help of realistic graphics. With a system that allows feedback, an imitation of physical sensations occurs.

The term “augmented reality” was coined at Boeing in 1990 by researcher Tom Caudell. He and his colleague David Mizell came up with a solution to replace the large plywood boards, which contained individually designed wiring instructions for each plane, with a head-mounted apparatus that would display a plane’s specific schematics through high-tech eyewear and project them onto multipurpose, reusable boards. Another example popularized by movies is Iron Man’s helmet equipped with AR technology.

Hype Cycle of VR and AR

In 1995, the research company Gartner introduced the concept of “hype cycle”. Technologies go through certain stages of this cycle.

“Innovation Trigger” is the first stage. A potential technology comes things out, but no usable products exist yet and commercial viability is unproven.

The second stage is “Peak of Inflated Expectations”. More and more people study up on the technology and their interest in it expand. In the mid-‘90s, Nintendo released gadgets for virtual reality. It sold only 700 pieces because the content quality and screen resolutions weren’t enough to generate massive interest.

That is why people were disappointed in hype of VR and waited for what would happen next. So there was the third stage, “Trough of Disillusionment”. Augmented reality is now in this stage.

Virtual Reality is now on the fourth stage called “Slope of Enlightenment”. The main issues have been ironed out, and there is a lot of quality content.

Now VR is approaching to the fifth stage — the Plateau of Productivity”, when the use of technology becomes a part of everyday life.

Scope of VR/AR applications

The market of virtual and augmented reality is gain momentum rapidly, and every year brings us more upgrades in this area. Here the list where they can be used:

  1. Entertainment. For now, the most popular use of VR is virtual reality gaming. A person gets involved in a three-dimensional environment and interacts with it. His/her presence is detected via bio-sensing. Small sensors attach to a data glove, suit or even the body and records all of his movements. These movements are then interpreted by the computer in a variety of replies within that space.

3D internet. Programmers are pushing the idea of a three-dimensional internet with dynamic exploration of websites. Instead of clicking on a link and scanning the information on it, a person could touch physically the webpage and manipulate it. Webpage will become a location where you could learn something new in active way.

  1. Design & Engineering. There are solutions that allow engineers from different countries to work simultaneously on one project in real-time, which increases the production process and solves communication problems. VR technologies can also be used in prototyping and modeling.
  2. Sport. Using VR helmets, athletes can prepare for the match and developing strategy in virtual space. Spectators can also use them to view the action from the athlete’s perspective.
  3. Military. The military simulates warfare to work through the strategy, or demining to reduce errors in the real-life with help of VR and AR helmets technologies.
  4. Medicine. There are many ways to use VR technologies in this field, from training future doctors in surgical operations to rehabilitating patients after a major illness.

Market forecasts

Nowadays, the revenue from the sale of VR content and devices is several billion dollars. By 2020, analysts predict the market volume of virtual and augmented reality will be more than $150 billion.

Investors and start-ups must seize this opportunity and invest in these technologies. For now, the main revenue is generated by content for VR, but the picture might change soon. Specialists expect that the driving force in this industry is going to be the augmented reality.