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Virtual & Augmented Reality

From games & entertainment to Industry 4.0

Virtual reality and augmented reality are rapidly evolving to an integrated standard. They are now being used in development processes such as prototype optimisation or plant planning, production processes such as assembly optimisation and predictive maintenance, operating processes such as employee qualification, occupational safety, and service and maintenance.

Virtual & augmented reality is making a strong push to jump the games industry to industrial companies in an effort to create innovative potential for the long term.

The advantages are obvious:

  • Efficient & sustainable process design
  • Intuitive operation
  • Making expert knowledge accessible
  • Breaking down complexity with transparency

Short, interactive 3-D visualisations support understanding. With today's technology, it is possible to take the next step and to make information and knowledge tangible and interact with it.

Definition

Due to the fast pace and rapid technological development of this field of innovation, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) serve as generic terms for 360° videos, mixed reality (MR), and extended reality (XR).

Virtual Reality (VR)
A computer-generated, immersive 360° world into which users are completely immersed, move, and interact with, depending on the application. They no longer perceive their physical environment. This "reality" can be both the image of the real world and a created environment.

The focus is on the individual's immersive experience of the virtual world from their own perspective. This is particularly stimulated by optical and acoustic stimuli, but also haptic or olfactory feedback. In contrast to VR, users in an augmented reality scenario remain in their physical reality and use it as a basis for exploration.

Augmented Reality (AR)
An enrichment or extension of the physical reality with digital information. This information is laid over the real world in real time in a way appropriate to the situation; it thus augments the experience of the real world. This information can include 3-D elements, texts, images, or even videos.

Thanks to their individual application potentials, VR and AR are not competing products and are already used in a versatile and successful manner, proving to be business-ready technologies. Both technologies rely on end devices, ranging from smartphones and tablets to special glasses and headsets.
 

VR & AR in Berlin

With Berlin as the leading creative media location in Germany close to the Babelsberg film studios, the region has developed strengths in narrative and content production. For example, games and entertainment are the VR/AR applications earning the highest revenues for the region.

In particular, VR is still strongly located in the entertainment sector. The computer games industry continues to be an essential driver of VR, but concepts such as gamification (intuitive and motivational processes) are increasingly being transferred to industry.

However, as a cross-sectional technology, the application potential extends across a variety of industries. In particular, Berlin-based medical technology has already begun to integrate a large number of VR/AR applications.

Other industries that use these immersive technologies include

The areas of application are just as varied:

  • Training & education
  • Product development
  • Service, maintenance, & repairs
  • Therapy & diagnosis
  • Usability & ergonomics
  • Sales & distribution
  • Cooperation & remote collaboration

What's next?

The interest in AR and VR is tremendous, but users are still wary of initial integration into their companies and reluctant to budget large sums of money. And yet, there are pioneers who are already developing company-specific VR/AR-based solutions.

The rapid advancement of the technology will encourage this development while reducing lingering reticence. Production costs are falling thanks to increasingly affordable devices, while the number of applications continues to multiply through high-resolution cameras, higher-performance processors and graphics cards, and, in particular, the advances in sensor technology and object recognition, an exciting development especially for industrial production.

These processes are driven by the strong scientific focus on immersive media at such institutions as the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the training of highly-qualified developers at HTW Berlin, and Berlin's innovative entrepreneurial landscape with innovation labs, accelerators, etc.