With the need to rethink physical experiences in the post-pandemic world, immersive technologies inducing virtual environments have unprecedented scope to achieve an everlasting place in the future of mankind.
An interesting analogy from Professor Todd Richmond, Director, Tech & Narrative Lab at Pardee RAND Graduate School, Santa Monica, CA, USA effectively describes the situation of the day. It’s like playing the PAC-MAN, as per Prof. Richmond. “I turn down a row, see people, turn back around, and immediately head for another aisle.”
While pandemics may not be new, but the scale of coronavirus is unprecedented in the age of information and technology. That obviously changes humanity’s response to the calamity. As countries try to navigate through the labyrinth of challenges set forth by this rapidly exploding disease, the role of immersive technologies and their scope needs to be understood by us all to prosper again in the post-pandemic world.
Watch: AR and VR – The New Normal
So, the virtual environment, as technologists call it is a big part of the transformational phase of all of us, knowingly or unknowingly – from virtual clinical appointments, consultations, lectures, business meetings, and even parties. Perhaps its impact in the frontline domain of healthcare best describes how AR/VR is shaping the future.
Immersive tech in Covid-19 Healthcare
As we fundamentally evolve in the way we live and operate on a day to day basis, VR will increasingly come into the fold. For example, with the immediate medical response to Covid-19, healthcare providers and researchers have increasingly taken the support of AR/VR technologies to expedite treatment and in finding a cure.
Compared to other viruses attacking the respiratory system, the damage that Covid-19 causes to lungs in unparalleled. Technologies like VR and 3D imaging help medical experts spot unique characteristics associated with the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, data from lung imagery helps in estimating the impact of the virus on a patient, helping in appropriate and timely treatment.
The new augmented Normal
The future is bound to be heavily created by augmented reality. As we return to our normal efficiency post-pandemic, immersive technologies will find the scope of influencing virtually all walks of life. In such a future, socializing also may happen mostly in virtual environments.
Todd Richmond, who is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), explains about a future where augmented reality apps help people deal with physical distancing while socializing.
“In theory, such an app would essentially map out where a user is in relation to where other users are – it would pull data on higher risk areas based on population density and other factors, enabling the user to navigate around a particular area more safely.”Professor Todd Richmond, Director, Tech & Narrative Lab at Pardee RAND Graduate School, Santa Monica, CA, USA and IEEE Member
This makes education of the public crucial to achieve such a virtual socialization environment. AR/VR techniques are also helping to improve the general behavior that leads to the spread of infection among the public in case of unknown highly contagious diseases. Virtual reality can also be effective in training the average global citizen who has no professional medical training or knowledge. Instead of placing people in actual threatening scenarios, VR can help safely transfer knowledge. Beyond healthcare, AR/VR technologies are also widely being ideated for activities like virtual travel, optimized social gatherings, and cleaner supply chains.