information technology

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality

“Internet of Things”, “Artificial Intelligence”, and “Big Data” may seem like synonymous, buzzwords on the surface, but in reality, their stark differences allude to their similarities. These three concepts are re-writing how we interact, buy and sell, travel, and make things (Brody, 2016). Products such as 3D printers, smart lightbulbs, smart slow cookers, and smart houses are blurring the lines between the realms of virtual and reality. For example, smart slow cookers can be controlled by a smartphone application where the user can set the temperature and cook time and even see the inside of the appliance.

Spending on big data and analytics is not slowing down. IDC Research, Inc. thinks by 2020, revenue from business data and analytics will reach $210 billion. Some of the industries spending the most money on analytics include: banking, healthcare, and insurance (“Business Technology News”, 2017). Business Intelligence and Data Analytics are commonly used interchangeably. However, there is a subtle difference. Data Analytics is a broader category that Business Intelligence fits into: Business Intelligence is a type of Data Analytics (“Business Intelligence vs Data Analytics”, 2015). Business Intelligence seeks to answer business questions through analytics.

Augmented Reality (AR) seeks to blur the lines between the digital and physical worlds (Pretz, 2016a). The capabilities and applications of AR are vast. People with disabilities could use AR to restore their senses (ie: sight, hearing, touch, etc.) and increase their abilities. A disabled person could jump, see, and travel to places in AR that they couldn’t do in real life. This is gaining lots of attention in the medical community. American veterans commonly suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Rizzo, owner of an AR startup Bravemind, says that PTSD is “about confronting your past and moving past it” (Popescu, 2017). He believes that AR can be a form of prolonged exposure therapy for treating PTSD. The simple immersion can be used to help treat pain, addiction, phobias, sexual trauma, and Parkinson’s.

Critics of AR voice concerns over privacy, addiction, and ethics. Google Glass failed due to privacy concerns that consumers’ activities were being recorded (Pretz, 2016b). Like any other technology, the user can become addicted. Just like online video games, users can become so addicted that they can’t tell what’s real and what’s not. On the other hand, it can improve a person’s quality of life by providing a better, alternative, and virtual world that makes them happy. Lastly, there are concerns about enhancing performance. Similar to performance enhancing drugs, AR applications such as implants and prosthetics could give some competitors an unfair advantage (Pretz, 2016b).