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How virtual reality and augmented reality can change the economy after the covid-19

article source : WIRED  

From fashion to ecommerce, from industry to smart working, here’s how augmented and virtual reality can transform traditional businesses (and they are already doing it)

Fashion shows with avatars, 3Dcommerce, blue collar smartworking and school in virtual reality: ever closer borders, from marketing to entertainment, from real estate to the world of education. The rules of social distancing imposed by the coronavirus emergency make it impossible to meet in the physical world but visors, smartglasses and holographic supports can recreate communications and personal relationships, with immersive virtual reality (Vr), augmented (Ar) and mixed (Mr) technologies. If in the United States Virtualitics already allows you to view 3D big data in virtual environments, creating a scenario with the Minority Report, the Italian software houses are also at work. Already before the Covid-19 crisis, the consultancy Pricewaterhouse Cooper predicted that the sector will bring 1,500 billion dollars and 23.3 million new jobs to the world economy by 2030. The estimate of the contribution to the global GDP is $ 360 billion in manufacturing, 351 in medicine, 294.2 in training, 275 in maintenance, 204 in retail. These technologies have so far been considered more of a ‘nice to have’ than an investment in productivity and personal efficiency ”, observes Lorenzo Montagna, president of the VR / Ar Association, an association of the Milan sector. “The coronavirus crisis will accelerate a strategic adoption that no one will be able to do without in the future, to reproduce the buyer-seller relationship, recreate the opportunities for meeting around products and all those situations in which a presence of people as a sport is useful, entertainment and culture. This is also why VR is already working well in training “.

Training and manufacturing

So much so that in Bologna the Municipality launched the Classroom 3.0 project for the Aldini Valeriani industrial technical institute, with Eon Reality, Corazza Foundation and Fav. From September, 300 students of the last year will take lessons in Ar / Vr, to simulate the activities they will carry out in the workplace in a digital ecosystem. A bridge between school and the professional world, created thanks to a user-generated content platform based on the Creator Avr software. Teachers will use 360 ​​° models and photos to create lessons by accessing CgTrader, the world’s largest 3D model repository , or by uploading the 3D assets produced by the students, starting from a web page in the backend. All without having to write a line of code, while in the frontend just download an app available for iOS and Android.The same can be done for employee training and remote assistance on safety procedures, assembly and operation of machinery, aimed at ensuring the production continuity of companies in any scenario. “Applications range from gas pressurization to welding, from DNA sequencers to courses for making crepes, through new experiential training and muscle memory paradigms that allow you to learn almost double the traditional methods and increase capacity by 70% to memorize, ” they explain from Eon Reality.

On the maintenance front

This is confirmed by Marco Zanuttini, CEO of OverIt, a Friulian company of the Engineering group, with customers among the multiutilities of the energy, infrastructure and telecommunications sector (Eni, Enel, Italgas, Open Fiber …). Augmented reality devices have often been perceived as a ‘scenographic’ element among the solutions available to a company,” notes Zanuttini. “The coronavirus crisis could, however, accelerate the experiments as already happened in Spain, where a company asked us for the urgent installation of the software and the immediate sending of the smartglasses, for the maintenance of its systems, in the absence of staff”. It is the smartworking of blue-collar workers, with wearable visors intended to overcome tablets and smartphones as a support to display a digital twin and communicate with the remote assistant. “AR devices are useful when staff cannot travel away, to ensure the transfer of know-how from a senior employee to a junior one and to remotely guide non-technical personnel“, explains Zanottini. “The use of a virtual environment is ‘transparent’ to the problem, when a plant itself allows remote operations. It is different when it is necessary to make use of the presence of staff, even non-specialized ones, on whom the AR can guarantee extended maintenance. ” Sharing virtual objects on the user’s visual field for smart assistance in the field is the way in which Joinpad supports the maintenance of Alstom trains in Sesto San Giovanni, while Uqido has created virtual environments to train Nokia technicians to repair the antennas at 40 meters high. “Cases in which if you make a mistake in real life you don’t have a second chance”, observes Pier Mattia Avesani, CEO of Uqido (Padua). “Virtual reality allows you to track movements and evaluate them without having to rebuild the workstation for each apprentice, with great potential in medicine”.

In medicine

The first augmented reality surgery in the world took place recently at the Sant’Orsola hospital in Bologna. The maxillofacial specialist wore the Vostars visor, created as part of a European project coordinated by the University of Pisa. In the visual field he could visualize a virtual 3D line along the path to follow with the surgical instrument. The viewer has allowed for the first time a coherent focus between virtual and real image, therefore the right eye-hand coordination in the surgical act. In Milan, however, the immersive videos of Impersive allow to reconstruct the experience of the technician of laboratory for testing genomic samples of cancer cells. The trainee who must obtain the training with ECM credits can thus repeat the experience without having to personally attend the procedure, recorded from the technician’s point of view at the Federico II University of Naples. “Thanks to the ultrasound scans it is possible to reproduce images in Ar of organs and pathologies, but the same goes with objects for fashion and manufacturing “– observes Avesani –” when commercial agents cannot move or go to trade fairs it is possible to recreate a 3D object with millions of polygons thanks to photogrammetry “.

The retail sector

“The lockdown has given a strong acceleration to ecommerce but the next frontier is the new ‘3DCommerce’ standard that the American association Khronos Group is developing, with the support of about 90 companies in the sector, from Amazon to Shopify, from CgTrader to Sketchfab, developing an evolution of the gLtf format, used for the transmission of photorealistic 3D assets “. The forecast is by Matteo Esposito, CEO of Invrsion in Milan, who creates virtual supermarkets for the marketing studies of brands such as Nestlé, Ferrero, Pepsi, Mondelez and Esselunga. “The fashion world has budgets already allocated for the fashion shows currently blocked , but it could be the first to benefit from virtual reality to bring the showroom to the buyer and not vice versa “- explains Esposito -“ the problem will be the conversion of some fashion houses that still design the models by hand, up to a few days before going to production”. Invrsion has rebuilt an entire Miami neighborhood in VR to allow a local real estate agency to invite potential buyers to purchase apartments with designer furnishings. “I doubt that the future of VR is hyper-realistic, haptic, olfactory and multisensory” – Esposito observes – “Facebook has already sold several million Oculus and I believe it will go increasingly towards standalone devices, with the computing power of the cloud in high resolution 5G. We work on an ecommerce product so that the retailer connects their platform on this type of support. “” Until recently we were an ‘effective gadget’ for large industry, but now this experience can become strategic. However, to wear a viewer you need to create a reason: live an immersive experience and a convincing interaction “, concludes Guido Geminiani of Impersive, who for six years has produced 300 commercial VR projects for X-Factor, Sony and several Serie teams A. “We are developing fashion demos, virtual rooms to allow buyers to interact through avatars and see the new collection presented during the fashion week.” “It is a paradox, many companies are not ready to seize the opportunities that technology already allow to address consumers, ”concludes Montagna, author of the book Virtual and Augmented Reality. New media for new business scenarios (Hoepli). “Yet one of the advantages of AR is that a smartphone is enough, there are projects already implemented in culture and sport, such as the virtual tour of the museum” Ara Pacis as it was “and the NBA finals seen with Oculus. So far, the ‘reason why’ has been lacking in business, but in hindsight, we already have this technology in our pocket. “A first step? Surely thousands of nerds from all over the world have already done so, becoming unsuspected marathon runners thanks to Pokemon Go, since 2016. While waiting (at home) for further developments, all that remains is to delight with the 3D animals made with the Arcor Google Search.

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