By Audrey Chanakira
One of the joys of working in IT is seeing the future and knowing that although we may not have embraced it yet in Namibia, it will come. It’s what attracted me to study IT at the tertiary level and has always kept me curious. Where are we heading, what are the geniuses around the world developing and what can we use it for? Two of these innovative developments, which have actually been around for much longer than we realize are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
Most of us have heard of these technologies but may not be quite sure what they are. We’ve seen it in movies, and we’ve seen people wearing goggles and falling over in clips on TikTok and Instagram, but what are they really and how will they have real-world applications and implications, not just in Europe and America, but right here in Namibia.
Augmented Reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Examples of augmented reality experiences include Snapchat lenses and the exceedingly popular game Pokemon Go. Virtual reality (VR) implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. Using VR devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, users can be transported into a number of real-world and imagined environments such as the middle of a squawking penguin colony or even the back of a dragon. This is what we usually see in movies and clips. Social Media apps are the driving force behind these technologies and are an intrinsic part of what the Metaverse is purported to be.
Innovation has taken flight since the pandemic hit and more and more applications are being developed that let people be immersed and or experience products, places, and services without physically being there. Customer engagement is essential for the survival and long-term success of businesses, especially small businesses. By leveraging AR and VR’s interactive technologies to position products and services businesses can establish relationships that were previously limited by the pandemic. Imagine taking potential tourists on a virtual tour of Namibia, the Sossusvlei, Etosha, and the coast, it will certainly convince them to come and visit.
It is not just businesses that can thrive by implementing AR and VR, education and healthcare will become a whole new immersive and interactive experience. Imagine being able to do museum visits anywhere in the world, from any classroom in Namibia. Science classes can become interactive, imagine being able to visit volcanoes or journey through the human body enhances biology class like never before. It will bring knowledge to life for students, and this is already being done in other parts of the world. We need to make strides to offer this in Namibia as well.
The benefits have not even been explored yet, both AR and VR are still classified as emerging technologies, but it is exciting to see where they may go. Giving Namibians access to healthcare workshops, and interactive engagements with healthcare professionals are just the tip of the iceberg. As a young IT professional, I want to be part of embracing this new technology and ensuring the infrastructure is ready, capable, and accessible to all and for every Namibian. We can harness and utilize this technology for the benefit of our country.
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