Startimes

Virtual Reality- A Billion Dollar Year

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People have wild imaginations and some would even call them dreams. In the last few days, Kenyans have been talking about a lady who had a dream to go to China and see places. She shared the picture of her posing just a few minute before boarding a plane to China, and then the pics of several other places she went to including the great Wall of China. Unfortunately, it turned out that all the pictures were photo-shopped and she became the joke of Social Media. But in the end some friends including Sam Gichuru, the CEO of Nailab came together to help her realize her dream.

This story is interesting to me because of my experience with Virtual Reality at the Mobile World Congress. Virtual Reality technology gained more prominent following Mark Zuckerberg’s Appearance at Samsung Galaxy S7 to Unpacked event. My observation at the MWC was that every major tech company in one way or another was trying to show case VR technology. Deloitte recently gave a report that clearly explain what the VR technology is about.

“Virtual reality hardware offers visual (and sometimes audio) immersion via a head-amounted display that shows a stereo image in 3D. Sensors in the headset track the user’s movements and change the user’s view accordingly. A VR version of scuba diving allows you to feel as if real fish are swimming toward you. If you look up, you see a realistically rendered sky. When you glance down, you are shown the ocean floor. The sound track adjusts accordingly, enhancing the perception of being elsewhere. All other things being equal, the higher the screen resolutions, and the faster the screen refresh, the more convincing the simulation”

 

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From the above description, it is possible to see that some of the experiences like what the lady was imagining could be achieved without traveling. It is great that lady got a chance to go China but if that was not the case, she would have been advised to try virtual reality.

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At the Mobile World Congress, I had a chance to interact with Ford VR experience device. A simple start and then boom. I found myself being driven in their coolest latest connected car, Kuga  (Check my story on connected cars here ). From there, straight to a party and then to the golf course (Well, let me just say I am not there yet). So I moved fast to a swimming pool, to a self-driven taxi and to finally trying to tame wild lions. Each of those places was just too awesome, out of this world.

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When I came back to the real world we had a chat with a number of Ford Executives and I discovered that Ford has a clearer vision on how to utilize VR technology than any other company I visited at MWC. That is more so because they have been using VR technology to develop their designs for a while. For them, it is just a continuation but they welcome the new race to get the mass usage of VR technology. Deloitte Global sees a big year for VR in 2016, predicting a billion dollar sales in both headsets and content

So, how does it work for Ford Motors Company? Using the VR, the designers look at the perceived quality of the cars as the clients would see them. Practically they use employees to wear the VR headset and walk around looking at the car while others are watching on the big screen. They take experience of different employees to come up with the best design possible.

To a more important question, can VR technology be best utilized especially in Africa? This is a question that has been bothering me in the last few days. Could agriculture for example benefit from it? I think the answer is a big yes. Most farmers already imagine in their minds getting a bumper harvest every season. That imagination could be used through VR to come up with the best way to grow the crops. Irrigation schemes like Galana in Kenya could really benefit from the VR technology. The debate about Galana draining tax payer’s money and not getting the desired outcome could be put to rest with proper use of technology.

Jua kali sector, is another area that I feel could benefit from the VR technology. I am thinking about the guys like the one from Bungoma Kenya who designed his home made washing machine. Such a guy would improve their imagination with VR technology. The same goes to Gikomba and Kariobangi guys.

And now that we are talking of laptops in school, Teaching via a virtual classroom is something we need to start considering. This could easily solve the issue of shortage of teachers in schools.

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Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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