SSDs Helping Make Augmented Reality… A Reality

Augmented reality, or simply AR, has garnered a lot of attention in recent consumer and industry publications, and while you may have caught some of the buzz, what exactly can it add to your organization’s innovation equation?

By definition, AR refers to a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.  This has already demonstrated the power to create an entertainment gaming craze (think about the Pokémon GO phenomenon), but its impact on IT objectives and business outcomes can be even more far-reaching.

Augmented reality and virtual reality products are expected to drastically increase from 2.5 million units sold in 2015 up to 24 million units in 2018.1

Just like any other technology, the hype eventually becomes an expectation of users and consumers, but organizations that leverage AR sooner rather than later can realize a competitive advantage, not to mention positioning their brand as a forward-thinking leader.

Businesses across various industries will benefit from AR, but let’s take a look at four big ones:

Education: Because AR enhances the information that can be perceived with senses, like a virtual dinosaur sprouting out of text on the Mesozoic Era, it often immerses users into the experience in a way that makes learning more meaningful and memorable.    This type of motivation can make a big difference when you consider that teachers already feel it is a challenge to keep students engaged in curriculum, even with existing classroom technology. If you think about how kids can so easily become engrossed in their phones and tablets, you can imagine how introducing AR into the classroom can be a valuable tool by providing a much more immersive and engaging learning experience.

Healthcare: The possibilities with AR in the medical field seem limitless right now, so this is really just the tip of the iceberg.  Of course healthcare starts with education itself, and AR provides rich contextual learning for medical students to aid in achieving core competencies, and augmented brochures can keep doctors abreast of new therapies and drugs.  As for patients, AR can enable them to scan packaging or printed materials to quickly discover a prescribed drug’s benefits and mode of action.  Step-by-step instructions and guidelines are presented more accurately via AR on a mobile device screen.  In addition, AR can help patients better understand their symptoms and actual medical state.

Retail: AR allows retailers to take things to the next level, creating unique experiences that blend digital and physical shopping.  The virtual layer can provide a platform that supports improved communication, deeper engagement, and better personalization.  Imagine you are a looking to redesign your home or office, and therefore scoping out new furniture.  Before buying expensive, large items, AR can be used to help consumers visualize what those pieces would actually look like in personal environments before making costly and time-consuming color, size, and arrangement decisions.  By deploying AR effectively, companies and brands will be able to provide differentiated interactions with physical products and customer experiences that seem richer than the ones provided by their online competitors.

Transportation: While automated cars are on the horizon, AR is already being built into mobile device and cars to aid everyday commuters and drivers with navigation. This can be expanded to provide real-time news alerts, updates on ever-changing road conditions, and even re-routing of traffic to avoid disaster areas.  Some car manufacturers are trying to make this more seamless by implementing AR into windshields that will enable drivers to benefit from this information without ever having to take their eyes of the road.

AR made possible with Flash and SSDs: Many companies may currently have AR on their IT roadmap, and clearly, with good reason.  The right storage solution plays a critical role in the success of such a strategy, and enables companies to more quickly realize the business-differentiating outcomes like the ones mentioned above.

Today’s AR devices can include your smartphone and tablet, but future ones will fit on your head and are untethered, allowing users to interact with information and objects superimposed over real life environments.  For a truly on-the-go experience, these devices will need to basically be wearable computers, and will require adequate processing power, graphics capabilities, and a compact and low power storage solution, which is exactly where devices like single-package ball grid array (BGA) SSDs come into play.  Designed to fuel the future of mobile devices, Toshiba’s BG Series SSDs can deliver the performance and low power requirements these next-gen AR devices require, all in a tiny footprint with no moving parts that can be embedded in everything from an untethered wearable to a car’s smart windshield.

Next generation devices are just part of the equation.  AR happens in real-time and the storage, access, and sharing of that data also need to happen quickly for a truly interactive and useful mixed reality experience.  Flash and ultra-low latency Solid State Drives (SSDs) will enable AR efforts to take off in terms of supporting the necessary real time data, graphics, and analytics that reside within the data center and need to stream to devices and AR users.

AR represents a unique opportunity to provide a new level of human and computing interaction, providing entertainment, learning, transportation, and business benefits.  Capitalizing on this opportunity requires understanding of how to leverage flash and SSDs to create the next generation of more user-friendly devices and power the datacenters that are critical to providing access to the analytics and content in real-time.  We are at a unique time where SSDs designed with the latest 3D flash technology, like those from Toshiba, deliver the performance, density, latency, small footprint, and low power consumption required to help drive your own innovation strategy – one to back anything from the next wearable consumer device to the modern datacenter, and in the process, meeting today’s AR demands.



The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of KIOXIA America, Inc.