Virtual reality and augmented reality are two of the biggest focuses within the development/technology industry, even outside the gaming world. Given the fact that such technology heavily intersects with others such as machine learning, procedural calculation and 4D mapping, we can easily say that the near future will indeed see VR and AR as two big trends in every single business avenue, either from a consumer’s point of view to a more tech-focused one. Let’s try and break down in a simpler way why companies are betting on these technologies, with a deep focus on SLAM.

What Is Simultaneous Localization And Mapping?

SLAM is an algorithmic technology and VR/AR application that permits to translate the real world’s data into a virtual environment and vice-versa. When this concept was developed a couple of years ago, it was quite obvious the fact that such technology had to be accompanied to a machine learning-ready brain, capable of instant translations in order to guarantee the best projections to deliver a better user experience. An embryonic version of a SLAM application is currently used on TESLA’s and Volvo’s autopilots: the central brain is indeed able, following the surrounding environmental projections, to instantly process all the risk factors in order to ensure the driver’s safety and comfort while driving. The same idea is also used when the summon feature is used: given the fact that the car is remotely controlled, the brain is able to automatically process all the possible solutions if needed, exclusively relying on environmental projections.

Here’s how a SLAM-based autopilot works:

– Environmental scan: this is usually done in a timeframe of 1-2 seconds, by analyzing all the objects within a mile radius (this is the current sensor’s limitation). The projection is, at the same time, processed by the brain.

– Virtual projection: in order for the brain to understand all the risks, the above mentioned virtual projection is usually following an instant split testing with third-party mapping providers (Google Maps is the most used for this, given the fact that it contains 3D recreations of the surrounding environment) in order to confront the results for a better picture.

– Data transmission and actions: given the fact that this process doesn’t follow a floor algorithm (the one, to reference, which is used in QWERTY codes and pictures scanning) the entire data elaboration is done within the second window of time, which makes the entire process almost instant.

Security, Training And Simulation: Where VR And SLAM Are Usually Working

Understanding which channels are the most beneficial when it comes to embryonic development is the winning point for the future of the market. Reading what business analysts are saying, the picture is clear enough for us to state the fact that a considerable part of the education market will use VR and AR-induced applications. A clear example that usually comes to mind is related to medical training, where trainee surgeons will be able to practice delicate procedures without any risk. Some companies are currently developing a full VR based training room, in which, by simply using Oculus, HTC Vive or any other peripheral, the student will be able to feel and practice an entire operating room.

We are also aware of the fact that pilots are trained by using very expensive simulators, which are indeed on their way to be replaced by fully VR-based rooms in which they will be able to experience the same thing. VR applications, on that side, are indeed the Volta key for simulation companies in order to significantly reduce the entire training budget. We can easily state the fact that, especially on this side, many companies will invest in a fully VR-ready training, which is faster and better in terms of results and quality.

The Mobile World: The Future Of VR Peripherals

The current limitation when it comes to Virtual and Augmented Reality lies within the mobile world. Since all the current VR peripherals are big and heavy, it’s kinda hard to translate high-end applications to the mobile world. In order to do so, companies like Apple and Google are heavily relying (on their development side) on producing applications that are really pushing the floor algorithm (the previously mentioned one who’s based on QWERTY codes’ analysis) in order to overcome this current hardware gap while still pushing the VR/AR world. Fair examples of this statement would be, of course, related to gaming, with applications like Pokemon GO and all the other Niantic ones. Niantic, in fact, is usually taken as the main reference by mobile app development companies who are trying to produce case studies on the matter, especially the ones based on the future of mobile VR peripherals. With many different applications currently developed by iOS and Android-focused companies, we can easily say that the future of VR is indeed pointing at mobile in its entirety, which is an exciting opportunity for many app developers and coding experts.

Efficient Mapping Systems Are On The Way!

The entire purpose of SLAM-based applications is indeed focused on creating better projections than the floor-based ones. Creating a VR-ready map could be a solution for travel planning, exploration and many other tasks, especially if the projection is actually showing a high-quality reproduction of the real world. In order to do so, the entire hardware should be optimised in order to fit into mobile devices, which is something that is likely to happen in the upcoming years. This was originally the entire goal of the infamous Google Glass, which were planned to do this and many other VR and SLAM-related features with a portable hardware. The highest quality sensors, within the consumers’ world, are the ones used by Volvo in their new XC90 model: with a calibration time which is breaking the second’s barrier, they are currently the fastest SLAM-ready triggers available on the market.

Processing Power and VR: Is It really A Consumer-Friendly Technology?

In order to better state the calculation power required to process high-level VR applications, we must go back to the gaming world for a moment: currently, a VR-ready gaming rig features a GTX 1060 graphics card (with 4/6 GB of dedicated ram) with at least 3.00 GHz of processing power (generally an i5 or equivalent processor). With that in mind, this raises the standards for the usage of such applications and software a lot. In fact, VR-ready rigs are currently fluctuating between £1500/2000, which truly limits the market of such applications. Even though the price is still a bit high, we can easily say that it fairly dropped compared to the price such pieces had two or three years ago, almost breaking the $4k line. Therefore, it’s possible that peripherals and overall PC components will drop their prices significantly in the upcoming months/years.

To Conclude

Virtual Reality is slowing moving towards consumers, mainstream market, which is indeed a source of interest either on a business point of view and from a development one. What we can expect in the near future is surely related to the Simultaneous Localization And Mapping technology, which, as said above, is the main focus for companies that are embracing the VR route. Passing through a mobile route, previously listed, it’s pretty clear, also, that many are the options when it comes to optimising the hardware in order to guarantee a better user experience. This is an exciting, embryonic time for the ones who are believing in the VR technology since this is just the beginning of the entire development. The next 4/5 years will be, in fact, crucial for the technology development, especially since titans like Apple, Google and Microsoft just started moving their steps within the business. With all that being said, there is just one simple statement we can make: the future is indeed focused on Virtual and Augmented reality.