AI and AR/VR: A Perfect Fit?First, let’s define what we mean by AR/VR: Augmented reality – A blend of the physical and digital environments; refers to the technology in which data is overlaid on the physical reality using a fusion of sensor data from cameras, accelerometers, etc. Pokémon Go is a popular example. Virtual reality – A computer-generated simulation of a 3D image that enables the person to interact with a digital environment. The AR/VR field has traditionally leveraged techniques like computer vision (not AI-powered) to advance innovation. But many businesses are discovering that these technologies and AI have a deep, complementary connection. AI excels at many actions that are beneficial to AR/VR: it can track objects, create detailed models of the 3D world, understand what features are in these models, and make judgments about them. Deep learning models in AI are particularly useful here, as they can identify vertical and horizontal planes; track an object’s movements and position; and estimate object depths, among other AR/VR synchronicities. Deep learning models can, in other words, help an AR/VR system interpret complex environments. An auto mechanic could, theoretically, use an AI-powered AR system to view a vehicle’s engine and be told by the system which parts need to be fixed and how. As a result of these complementary characteristics, AI is starting to replace traditional computer vision methods in AR/VR, with a number of industry leaders projecting that AI will help drive immersive technology adoption in consumer and business segments. Specifically, AI can enhance AR/VR experiences through the application of more realistic models as well as giving people greater ability to interact with the scenes. This powerful partnership of AR/VR and AI is due in part to advances in deep learning that apply to 3D model building, increased availability of data and data storage options like the cloud, and increasing levels of computing power. Regardless of the reasons, the integration is expected to provide exciting opportunities across many industries.
How Companies Are Already Using AI and AR/VRAI enhances AR/VR technologies in numerous ways: through improving the quality of the content, advancing and personalizing the user experience, and fostering more efficient interaction between the user and the technology. It’s for these reasons that many startups and tech companies are already making use of AI-powered immersive technologies. Here are a few exciting examples to watch for:
AerospaceUsing image recognition deep learning technologies, AI with AV can help engineers handle maintenance issues in aviation by pinpointing which components of the airplane need improvements and providing detailed instructions on how to make them.
RetailMany applications of AI-powered AR/VR exist in retail. These include, for example:
- Pop-up coupons that could appear in a digital environment while a shopper is navigating the aisles of a store.
- Virtual showrooms that display products customized to the shopper’s interests or needs.
- Virtual fitting rooms that enable a customer to try on clothes in the comfort of their home.
- AR that shows the customer pieces of furniture placed inside their own home.