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Virtual reality captivates the general public. No digital trade fair worth its salt around the world can do without them now. Not least because smart glasses are all the rage now: Many hardware manufacturers are launching innovative smart glasses this year.

The sector is predicted to grow strongly: In the next two years, revenue from AR and VR hardware and software is set to explode from from just under four billion to almost 20 billion Euros, estimates consultancy company Digi-Capital . Investment firm Goldman Sachs even forecasts that virtual and augmented reality will change the world just as much as the smartphones. By 2025, total annual revenue in this sector is to reach 80 billion US dollars. That would make the market as big as the desktop PC market today.

This growth could stem more from rapid development of the technology for industrial applications than the end consumer market. VR and AR have already been used successfully in many areas. Visualization of circuit boards or car bodies has been simplifying product development for years. CAD-based product design reduces development costs significantly, as fewer prototypes are needed. Virtual reality technology can be used to give a realistic experience of large buildings as early as the planning phase, making it easier for architects and statisticians to identify problems during a virtual walk-through, and allowing them to correct errors before construction starts.

Mixed reality for industry and health

Augmented reality helps the industrial sector, for example when maintaining large machines – if a mechanic has difficulty installing a component in the belly of a ship, a service technician from the manufacturing company can guide them through the troubleshooting process. It doesn’t matter whether the ship is still in the shipyard or in a dock on the other side of the world.

In the medical field, surgeons have been viewing computer tomographic images on smart glasses for some time now. The technology helps them operate more precisely. Software giant SAP links virtual reality and augmented reality for its in-memory data platform SAP HANA . The combined solution allows electricity masts to be maintained remotely, for example. Technicians can move virtually from mast to mast in seconds, without ever actually leaving their office.

More and more product properties can be combined to create digital models using augmented and virtual reality – and even optimized automatically through self-learning systems. Networking software tools better makes this easier, and allows the digital clone to depict reality more accurately. Accordingly, the boundaries between the digital and real worlds are becoming increasingly blurred .

3D visualization at HANNOVER MESSE

You could see how virtual reality and augmented reality will continue to change product development in corporations and medium-sized companies at HANNOVER MESSE in Halls 6, 7 and 8. Here was the place to be for experts, stakeholders and companies showcasing their latest innovations and many sample applications here. At the CAE Forum , experts from the industrial sector and universities also showed what simulation, additive manufacturing and 3D visualization can do in presentations.