A new way to fill the gaps
We have always been about filling the gap. See a need, fill a need. It has kept my small firm going for many years and the rewards have been wonderful as we have watched solutions created during the best and worst of times. Throughout the years, there has always been this nagging thought: “How do we do more?”.
I believe we have found it.
We are living in a different world. I still look back on my days as a young person watching Star Trek and laughing about how ridiculous the ideas were. I remember my father commenting on the impracticality and impossibility of having a handheld device that you could set to “stun” or “lethal”. I recall thinking how silly it was to think that there would be televisions with which we could communicate and see each other as we spoke to each other.
It has all come true. We live in the future and it is a scary and wondrous time, isn’t it?
In this digital age, technological advancements continuously are redefining how we interact with the world, with each other, and how we learn and discover.
Our children have been ahead of us the whole time. While we are just now figuring out how to teach and train, how to research and experience things using technology, our teenagers have been driving stolen cars and fighting wars for years inside of virtual worlds. For most of my life, I have watched as my own kids played games like Grand Theft Auto thinking it was a waste of time never dreaming that someday I would get caught up in another dimension and world myself.
But yet here I am, watching as my own company is redefined by the most transformative technologies of the 21st century; Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).
Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they represent distinct, albeit related, technologies. While VR immerses users in a fully digital environment, AR overlays digital information onto the real world. They serve a multitude of purposes across various industries, making them key players in the future of interactive technology.
As our company reaches deeper into the “other worlds” of realities, we have begun to create simulations like never before. This is a dream come true. For those of you that have worked with me for any length of time, you know that I have always been focused on education yet to provide realistic full-scale exercises took months and sometimes years to create. You know that once these exercises were executed, only a handful of responders were given the opportunity to experience the fruit of all that labor.
It was frustrating that after all the work, only a handful of agencies would participate in these massive efforts when the goal was to make the education available to everyone! Now, with the addition of Virtual Reality to our arsenal, we are re-creating those exercises in a form that can be shared, downloaded and experienced by any agency, any responder and any organization on demand!
Virtual Reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. By leveraging computer technology, VR creates an immersive environment where users can interact with 3D world using VR headsets or multi-projected setups. The purpose of VR is to allow a person to experience and manipulate the environment as if it is the real world.
As we have only begun to apply this technology to the emergency services industry, we are excited at the outcomes already. As we apply this technology to healthcare, we are looking forward to offering new simulations and scenarios for learning by the end of Q1 2024.
Augmented Reality is another animal altogether. Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. Unlike VR, which creates a completely artificial environment, AR overlays digital information on an existing environment, and in this case, one that we are purposely creating. AR can be experienced through devices like smartphones, tablets, AR glasses, and more. The digital enhancements to the physical world can be sound, video, graphics, or GPS data.
The concept of Virtual Reality (VR) has roots dating back to the 1960s, with Morton Heilig’s Sensorama machine, considered the earliest form of multi-sensory, immersive technology. However, it was Ivan Sutherland’s creation of the first VR/AR head-mounted display system, ‘The Sword of Damocles,’ that truly birthed the field. Augmented Reality (AR), on the other hand, found its origins in the 1990s with Louis Rosenberg’s Virtual Fixtures system, which overlay information in one’s visual field to assist in complex tasks. Both fields have experienced accelerated advancement in the 21st century, with household names like Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, and Google, each contributing innovative products and applications. This rapid growth continues to propel VR and AR technologies into an exciting and uncharted future. (Medium 2023).
Both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have transcended beyond just gaming and entertainment. It is no longer for the teen sitting on the couch. I am amazed watching our company transformed and given the ability to fill in more gaps than ever before as we create immersive training simulations for arenas like emergency services, disaster response, infectious disease control and more.
The future of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) looks promising, with continuous advancements broadening their potential uses and enhancing their capabilities. The advancements in VR could focus on creating more immersive and realistic experiences, while also addressing the associated health concerns. VR is projected to gain wider acceptance in sectors such as healthcare, education, and enterprise training.
AR is poised for significant growth, with its applications expanding beyond gaming and retail to fields such as healthcare, manufacturing, and remote collaboration. The evolution of AR glasses and improvements in AR cloud technology could propel this growth.
Stay tuned as we are spending much of the holiday season preparing for a new launch of old philosophy and methodology mixed with new technology. We are living in an exciting time and to not press forward would just…well, Captain, that would be illogical.