Virtual and Augmented Reality Use Cases

By Paul Mealy

Part of Virtual & Augmented Reality For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have a large number of use cases spread across any number of industries. VR lends itself readily to the entertainment industry.

VR has very strong roots in gaming. Gamers tend to be early technology adopters. Plus, they often have the powerful computer systems needed to run the highest-end VR headsets. But VR is not limited to gaming and entertainment. VR has made inroads into the education market. Classrooms have utilized VR applications such as Google Expeditions to facilitate virtual field trips or applications such as Clouds Over Sidra to educate on events as far ranging as the Syrian refugee crisis. VR has found inroads in the art world as a tool to create and educate, the healthcare industry to train surgeons and treat psychological issues, and the retail industry to advertise and shop in new ways. Name an industry, and VR likely has an applicable use case.

AR is similar, though the maturity level of the technology means consumer use cases are a bit fewer and further between as AR focuses on enterprise-level executions. These enterprise-level executions cover a gamut of uses:

  • Industrial applications for training workers on the factory floor for steps to utilize equipment or display via digital holograms where to find various parts in a physical warehouse
  • Entertainment applications where users battle digital holograms projected into real-world space
  • Utility applications for connecting users and allowing them to work in a shared virtual 3D space projected into a real-world environment

That’s not to say consumers are left out in the cold. Apple’s and Google’s release of ARKit and ARCore, respectively, mean mobile executions for retail (such as Ikea’s Place app, which allows you to preview full-size digital holograms of Ikea furniture) and utility applications such as Google Translate (which can translate images of more than 30 different languages on the fly through your mobile device’s camera) can be utilized by anyone with a supported mobile device.