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Friday, April 20, 2018, 01:27
Education, public-service sectors next fronts for VR
By Aska Cheong
Friday, April 20, 2018, 01:27 By Aska Cheong

HONG KONG - With virtual reality well-established in gaming and movies, high-tech industry insiders predict the technology is set to find its way into the education and public-service sectors.

Veteran VR developers shared their insights on the technology’s rapid development at a computer-altered-reality ecosystem summit during the Global Sources exhibition on Thursday.

Gabriel Guo Peng, staff manager of the Product Marketing Department in Qualcomm, a leading United States chip company, used firefighting as an example.

“If firemen wear VR glasses when entering a fire scene, they would see the indoor map and the temperature at real time,” he said. “The function will guide the firemen through thick smoke, better define the potential danger and shorten the rescue time.”

The VR glasses can also be used in the public security sector, Guo said. When patrolling police officers want to identity a suspect, they can now finish the checking process within a second with VR glasses, he added.

With camera, internet connection and broadcast system embedded, VR glasses will help give police the identity information of a pedestrian simply by looking at the face, Guo said.

Based on the latest technology, VR gives users an immersive experience in a computer-generated scenario.  

Experts also envisioned VR being widely used in the education sector.

In medical education, VR can clearly show the relative positions of organs in the human body, helping doctors understand the condition of patients and teaching surgical techniques to medical students, said Raymond Pao, general manager of North Asia for High Tech Computer Corp – Taiwan’s leading global consumer electronics company.

However, despite the rapid development, investment volume in VR peaked in 2016 and last year as big companies such as Sony, Samsung and Oculus launched newly developed VR headsets. But the industry experienced a downturn because of slow advances in the hardware and a cold market response; capital dried up.

Richard Shi Qing, co-founder of a high-tech and VR goggle production company Emdoor Group, believed bigger development will follow this slowdown. He described the situation in the industry as “darkness before dawn”.

Guo echoed this view. He noted today’s VR glasses resembled mobile phones 30 years ago. “Today is too far away to talk about smart glasses replacing the smartphone in consumer’s everyday life,” he reckoned.

Prospects for a boom in daily VR applications lie in potential technology breakthroughs, Guo stressed. “The optics, displays, CPU performance and battery life could not sustain a pair of smart glasses under 50 grams just like a pair of normal glasses, this is the most important issue for us to solve in the next five to 20 years.”

askacheong@chinadailyhk.com

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