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PwC believes AR will beat out VR in the end

Aug 19
Tags: PwC
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Both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been around for a while, but in recent years more and more attention has been given to them. While they have been highly publicised in the entertainment sector, management consultants are also paying close attention to the technologies for their potential use in a variety of industries.

For this reason, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has employed a head of AR and VR, Jeremy Dalton, as part of the firm’s role to advise companies on the technologies’ business applications. He stated in a recent interview with Information Age that he believes AR will be of most use in the long term.

Currently, VR is on top due to its many potential applications. For example, the technology has advanced enough that businesses can now use it for training purposes, especially when it comes to location-based training. If someone is learning how to work on a hard-to-reach location such as an oil rig, it is cheaper to do that through VR than to ship them out there.

The potential applications in the future are even more impressive. Mr Dalton pointed out that telepresence is not far away, with VR being used to virtually place people in a room with their colleagues. This can be useful for meetings, or even to allow people to visit potentially dangerous locations at greatly reduced risk.

So if the technology can be used for all of this, what hope does AR have of overtaking it? Mr Dalton believes that the applications of AR are soon likely to become more reachable than those of VR, saying: “It’s just a matter of time until we see AR supersede the revenues that VR has in business currently.”

His argument is that practically any task that requires prior knowledge can be assisted by an AR interface. One example for businesses is a worker in a warehouse needing to find the correct area to pick up or deposit an item. An AR interface could help them navigate the warehouse easily.

The main barrier to this currently is cost. Implementing the technology would require users to wear AR headsets, which could be a prohibitive cost for many businesses. However, the price could come down as manufacturers develop more efficient techniques. There’s a cultural barrier as well, with many businesses not understanding the potential of AR.

Of course, that doesn’t mean VR is going to be a dying industry; far from it. PwC have been using it in new ways. For example, Mr Dalton said: “Somewhat unexpectedly, financial services have been very interested in virtual reality. We’ve used VR at a global bank to help their leadership adopt more positive behaviours.”

Whatever the future may bring, it’s clear that both AR and VR have significant advantages to offer businesses, but also come with costs. Management consultants will need to bear these pros and cons in mind to make sure they are offering clients the best solutions, while also not neglecting potential technological benefits.

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