Futurists have long predicted that augmented reality (AR)—and, ultimately, virtual reality (VR)—will be part of our everyday world in the not-so-distant future. And it appears the future is now, as the past couple years have seen the arrival of apps that leverage this new technology. Mobile apps are using virtual and augmented reality to create applications with the power to transform how we interact with devices, technology and the world as a whole.
Simply put, augmented reality integrates reality with virtual elements. The now-iconic Pokémon GO app is a wonderful example of augmented reality mobile app development. Pokémon GO contains aspects you’d encounter in the real world, combined with digital components, being those Pokémon characters who pop up in various locations as the player navigates his/her world.
Virtual reality goes a step further. Instead of blending reality with virtual components, VR creates a completely virtual environment. In a VR world, your imagination is the only limit. And while most think of gaming when they think of AR and VR, games account for just one potential use. So how are mobile app developers using this technology?
Merging Mobile App Development, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Creative developers are finding clever ways to utilize virtual and augmented reality in mobile apps for multiple industries, including:
- Map and touring apps: Apps like Wikitude allow you to walk through a live version of Google Maps by holding up your phone and using the camera/video input. The app includes overlays from Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and other sites fully integrated into the user interface. For instance, you might see a pin in front of a local restaurant with their latest Yelp reviews. Or you can pan over to view two hotels across the street and you’ll instantly see information on their amenities, rates and ratings. This same concept can be used for self-guided tours and real estate showings, where the individual would hold up their mobile device and using the camera input and GPS data, the app will display virtual pins and signposts.
- Real estate listing and touring apps: AR is leveraged in many real estate home tour apps such as Smart2VR and Realvision, as the property’s interior or exterior is digitally edited in a practice called “virtual staging.” Staging can include decorative elements, furniture and plantings. This allows the prospective buyer to see what’s possible for a property that may otherwise be challenging to sell due to outdated décor or a lack of furnishings.
- Home decor apps: Decor apps use augmented reality to merge digital elements with real-life elements in an image, video or even a live-streaming video. For instance, you might take a video of a room and swap out cabinetry and furnishings with new and improved digital versions. Then, you can virtually navigate through the room to view it from different angles.
- Astronomy apps: The learning potential with AR technology is tremendous! Star Walk is an an app that uses a device’s video input and GPS (amongst other hardware) to create a constellation overlay on your live-streaming video of the night sky. This way, you can see the precise location of each constellation, star and planet.
- Anatomy apps: Another educational app, the Anatomy 4D Augmented Reality App, allows you to point your device at any standard anatomical drawing. That’s when the magic begins, as you’ll be provided with a 3D view of the organ. Students can change perspective, zoom, pan and learn more about how each organ system works.
The educational niche is amongst the most rapidly-developing arenas for augmented reality mobile app development. There are more advanced virtual reality apps in development that would let you point your device at a body part then delve into a VR tour, zooming through the flesh, muscle, bone, vascular system, nervous system and organs. Meanwhile, apps like InCell VR take a microscopic view of biology, allowing players to zip through cells and viruses.
Other Developments Spurring App Innovation
Advances in natural language processing (NLP) are accelerating the rate at which AR and VR technology progresses. Natural language processing refers to mobile apps and devices that respond to voice commands. While digital virtual assistants such as Siri or Alexa are perhaps the best-known examples of natural language processing technology, the potential in other areas is remarkable. For instance, consider how virtual language processing could transform the life of a disabled individual who is unable to type.
NLP can enable more natural, hands-free interaction, and many surmise that this more effortless mode of interaction will become increasingly common in the apps of tomorrow. Using a mobile app won’t necessarily involve picking up a device, launching an app and tapping away until you complete a task. Instead, app usage could take the form of simply stating a command, or the application could passively monitor your activities and take action without human input.
The future of mobile technology is exciting and chances are we can’t even conceive of what the future holds just a decade down the road. 7T has been hard at work integrating such technology into our mobile app development projects, including native and hybrid apps that fall in the B2B or B2C realm.
Based in Dallas, 7T mobile app developers serve local clients throughout the Texas Triangle, which is comprised of Austin, DFW and Houston. Our clientele spans the nation, though, and we work with customers in many different industries, including healthcare, the finance industry and the energy sector. So if you’re in search of an innovative development team to take on your next project, contact 7T today.