$6 billion reasons to make your life unreal

December 14, 2017 5:31 pm

One minute you’re in the office. The next, you’re inspecting a villa you may wish to buy, switching on the lights, looking at furniture, inspecting HVAC systems. You don’t like a sofa; you change its location in the room. You touch the wall and make the blue paint turn green, and while you’re at it, might as well knock a few walls down and build new ones in seconds.

If you’re saying to yourself: “This can’t be real” you would be right.

It’s what Virtual Reality (VR), or possibly Augmented Reality (AR), can do.

According to Goldman Sachs Research, by 2025, this will be an $80 billion (AED294bn) market.

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The Middle East and Africa market for virtual reality technologies is anticipated to jump to $6 billion by 2020, as more applications in the enterprise space become mainstream, including those in education, real estate, automotive, cultural, and logistics industries.

According to a report titled The Arab World Online 2017, virtual reality was viewed as something half of the report’s respondents are willing to use if made available at reasonable costs.

Recently Dubai billionaire Majid Al Futtaim invested in Dreamscape Immersive, a Los Angeles based company developing virtual-reality arcades for shopping malls. It would be a good guess to see the technology soon in his malls.

But how is this developing in the UAE?

Tour your future house!

Many businesses in the UAE have resorted to VR in a bid to give their clients 360 degree experiences of a potential product and increase their sales.

According to Property Finder, a real estate company, property companies in the UAE are rushing to incorporate VR for promotional purposes.

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“It is becoming rather common for these companies to create virtual tours of their listings and seek help from visual effects companies to accomplish that,” it said.

Forbes cites media company PearlQuest Interactive in the UAE which created an application allowing users to take a picture of a real estate project in order to create an augmented reality scale model of the project that outlines dimensions of a property both inside and out.

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS.

“This can enable potential buyers and investors to visualize the property they wish to invest in,” it said.

GDNOnline, a new platform, states that Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, the agency that provides Emirati housing, has launched the My Virtual Home App, which uses AR to allow users to virtually tour readymade 3D housing models.

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Want to burn some unreal calories?

Fitness operator Les Mills International introduced Tech-savvy concepts such as virtual reality exercise classes to boost the UAE’s exercise levels, according to AB Lifestyle, a news platform in the Middle East.
“The New Zealand-based firm offers consumers choreographed fitness classes, where they partake in high intensity interval training (HIIT) – that claims to burn up to 900 calories an hour – in an immersive 3D environment,” it said.
Les Mills Middle East Manager Glen Stollery claims the classes’ futuristic appeal can motivate UAE residents to exercise.

Virtual dangers!

A year ago, UAE students started learning through VR under a pilot project of the Ministry of Education.

“They are using VR headsets to explore worlds and scenarios too difficult or dangerous to experience in real life — such as the destructive effects of climate change or a tour of the International Space Station,” according to a media statement.

The project was rolled out in 17 “elite science-stream public schools” in the UAE, said Gemma Escott, Education Specialist, Ministry of Education, in the statement.

“Students using VR are more engaged and eager to learn,” said Escott.

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 Cloud nine virtually within reach

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has stepped up into the realm of virtual reality to showcase the A380 experience.

Launched in May 2016, the “Etihad A380 Virtual Reality experience featuring Nicole Kidman” takes advantage of YouTube’s 360° video capabilities to embed a virtual reality experience directly into a web or mobile-based player, according to Forbes.

“Viewers without VR headsets can simply click and drag the video through the desktop environment or rotate a mobile player to experience the full immersive video,” it said.

Seriously, this is not a game to take lightly.

Growing scope of applications

Financial analysts Goldman Sachs (GS) said it was anticipated that the gaming sector will still account for the lion’s share of AR and VR usage in 2025 and property and interior-design sectors count among the main users for this technology.

“Healthcare, retail, engineering and education are all set to be shaken up by these emerging technologies,” said GS.


Dana Halawi
By Dana Halawi
Senior Journalist
Dana Halawi has over seven years of experience in Journalism with articles published in multiple magazines and a newspaper in Lebanon. She specialized in Banking and Finance at the Lebanese American University and has a Master’s degree in International Affairs.