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Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence: The Now and The Future

12th June 2018

Categories: Latest News

Mark Bridgeman

Chief Operating Officer and UK Managing Director, EON Reality

Acronyms rule the world. VR, AR, SLAM, MR, XR, AVR, AI, ML, PL, PA: no business is complete without its tools and toys. These letters are both the tools and toys responsible for the last five or so years of an onslaught of rapid change across computing, interaction and knowledge transfer as we know it.

Commentators usually evoke the so-called “death of the mobile”, or the “death of the desktop” when making slightly mystified projections about these acronyms. And while there are nuggets of truth in the hype, the idea of a mobile is simply changing into something mobile-wearable. Nonetheless, the way in which we interact with digital information daily – is evolving. However, that evolution is galloping at a faster pace than many have ever imagined.

We can take two key examples of this digital transformation in tandem: Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence.

Powered together, there are still huge leaps in research to be achieved globally. Naturally this is something we’re achieving in Manchester already at EON Reality, but our R&D very much competes in a global race for how VR + AI are already transforming the way many industries and educational institutions operate.

How are Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence working together right now?

VR + AI: Serious Games, Serious Industry Training

The operations which take on VR with AI are typically in advanced scenario training, procedure training, and health/safety/security/environment simulation training. What we’re finding at EON Reality is manufacturing, aerospace, healthcare, energy, security and defence industries are all utilising virtual reality for “serious games”. We call it ‘Virtual Trainer’ and Virtual Training – developed in Manchester – because real learning and muscle memory takes place in these environments. This is a sea change from linear, 2D video learning and slide presentations typified in workplace learning, providing companies with cost effective, always adapting virtual learning, interacting with real objects and automated lesson plans, that can be done anywhere in the world, at any time from a Virtual Reality headset.

VR + AI = click and bricks marketing

VR has been the nice to have in marketing for long time, and there’s been some confusion in this world around what is VR, and what is just a set of 360 videos: please note, they are not the same.

True Virtual Reality (True VR) determines immersion beyond the ‘watcher’, and demands the attention and interaction of the actor, or the person experiencing the environment. This means user input and decision making: using handheld controllers, armbands, biosensors, steering wheels, gloves, and even ‘second skin’ suits; talking, listening for auditory and visual – even olfactory – cues. VR is moving towards generative environments that an AI can determine itself. Using full body, real-time avatars which we have already developed, with this means True VR is as challenging, as interactive and as convincing as the real-world environment. Everyone wants to do their driving exam practice lesson before the real thing: so let’s apply that to how we learn across the board.

VR + AI = Healthcare Futurism

Just to give a small example of this in one key global industry sector: Artificial Intelligence is a leading driver of growth in healthcare and medicine. Frost & Sullivan, a major U.S. analyst firm, predicts that AI will generate £5B in healthcare by 2021, and the numbers from peer researchers largely concur. 

And why are these numbers so big? The potential for patient information – for a start, to be better categorised, securely stored and utilised to generate appointments, prescriptions and recommend intelligent hospital scheduling has the potential to save millions.

As for the expertise of AI: personalised, always learning and always connected information is driving the kind of research which is opening doors for personalised, precision diagnostics and personalised, precision medicine. We know there’s no such thing as a silver bullet, and this is exactly what artificial intelligence is primed for: evolving, always learning, clever systems which take on data lakes of information to create, facilitate and communicate valuable, life-changing solutions.

Imagine this. You want to be at optimum health for a marathon next year. So, you consult your personal AI healthcare assistant in your Google Glass or from your smart watch (as examples), and your AI takes on the form of an autonomous Virtual Assistant available in VR or AR, recommending the best formula for a series of serums, based only on your own biochemistry and from your health sensors on your phones and wearable devices.

The serums have a guaranteed 99% effectiveness.

You say yes, and the AI orders them to be 3D printed, delivered for a 12-month course, along with a completely personalised exercise programme. Your AI assigns a human personal trainer to work with itself. The personal trainer works with you in the real world, while your AI generates Augmented Virtual Reality environments for you to stretch and weight train it at home, and in your breaks. This entire service is delivered and timed to perfection around your life.

That’s imaginable, isn’t it? And this is the kind of very-near reality we are starting to already enjoy.

But before we reach the heady heights – there’s work to be done.

Want to meet Mark at CEBIT in Hannover? Attend his session on Tuesday 12 June.

If you’re attending CEBIT 2018, click here for more information and to book a meeting with Rachel Eyre, Business Development Manager, MIDAS and find out how Manchester, the UK’s emerging cyber security hub, can help you.

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