A whole new world of augmented and virtual reality

Photo by Wilson Teresi

Photo by Wilson Teresi

Barry Po, Director of Product Management at NGRAIN, the leading company in providing interactive 3D experiences in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), will be doing a tech talk on Living and Working with Augmented and Virtual Reality on Oct. 19. 

The talk, which will take place in the West Vancouver Public Library’s Welsh Hall West from 6:00–7:30 p.m. will cover the different applications of AR and VR, both current and future.

The future is here

Po believes that AR and VR are the future and not just a passing fad. “With this technology, there are a couple of different types of experiences that mix the digital world with the real world. On one side you have virtual reality where everything is digital; you put on a headset and everything around you is computer generated. Then there’s augmented reality where you’re bringing in some components of the digital world into the real world and mixing them together,” says Po.

From its use in video games, to movies, to shorts, the possibilities are endless with AR and VR. It’s not just the entertainment business that has taken a shine to this seemingly new and exciting technology. Po went on to describe such benefits and real world applications for business as being able to have 3D perspective on intricate machinery without needing to be on-site.

He also explained how the technology, although making waves in the last few years, has been around a lot longer than that. Originally developed in the 1980s, the technology has only now become commercially available and widely used with a huge surge in VR and AR content creation, especially in Vancouver.

Real world applications

 Barry Po, director of product management at NGRAIN. | Photo by Carlos Taylhardat, Art of Headshots

Barry Po, director of product management at NGRAIN. | Photo by Carlos Taylhardat, Art of Headshots

Always surrounded by controversy, the use of VR and AR in video games is a hot topic with concerns that full immersion in video games could cause some negative and violent behaviour.

“They [VR and AR] have the ability to change the way we look at things like violence in video games. There’s increasing understanding that violence is not necessary for a game to be fun and entertaining, but I think there is an opportunity for the medium to be able to create a sense of empathy for certain conditions that we might not otherwise be able to experience. I think it’s a tremendous teaching opportunity as the technology gets more mature,” says Po.

There are also many medical applications that can have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“There are certainly therapeutic healthcare applications for VR. There are stories now of people using the technology to overcome phobias like fear of heights and spiders. They’re overcoming these fears with the tools in the AR and VR space,” Po explains.

Po is excited about this possibility for people to connect with others around the world.

“Imagine being able to be in the same location as a loved one even though you might be separated by ten thousand miles of distance. That’s one of the powerful opportunities for AR and VR to perhaps bridge and connect people in ways that traditional technologies may not have been able to,” he says.

For more information, please visit www.westvanlibrary.ca and click on “Events.”