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How VR and AR Trends Are Impacting Data Centers

By: Kayla Matthews on February 17, 2020

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two technologies that respond to real-time changes shown by a person or in an environment.  When a person straps on a VR headset, the things they see in front of them could change depending on how they move.

Similarly, AR apps often make virtual objects, like furniture or apparel, appear in a person's room, and allow them to move the objects.

As people continue to show curiosity towards AR and virtual reality uses, increased adoption will impact data centers. Thus, providers must ensure their infrastructure is ready for increased traffic levels and the overall data transmission rise caused by these two technologies. 

More AR Applications May Require Storing Historical Data to Pull Up Later

Augmented reality data is not necessarily the kind that users need to retrieve later. Many user experiences happen in the moment and are not stored for the person to pull up again, although the company that offers the AR experience may store the data. However, things may change. 

A recently released AR app called ReplayAR allows a person to capture a moment in time at a particular location, then return to the same place later and see the previous AR image overlaid on the same spot. For example, a parent who wants to see how much their child grows in a year might use that app to compare the differences

So, the AR data could encompass dozens or even hundreds of photos for a user who wants to retrieve them later. If more AR apps have this kind of historical storage feature, the demands placed on data centers will go up. 

VR Headsets Are on the Rise in the Gaming Community

Gaming marketplace Steam carries out a monthly opt-in hardware survey so that its users can indicate which setups they have. The January 2020 statistics showed that 1.31% of all surveyed had VR headsets, whereas only 1.09% of users reported having them during the previous month.

That's still a small percentage overall. What's significant about it, though, is that the December-January jump is the largest reported since VR data among Steam users started getting tracked as of 2016. Using VR for gaming is exceptionally intensive regarding the demands placed on data centers. Headsets react instantly to decisions people make during gameplay, all of which appear to the user with almost no latency. 

It's too early to say yet whether the gaming community's uptick in VR headset use is part of a wider trend. But, gamers alone will affect the amount of information processed at data centers as they embrace VR. 

AR Is Becoming More Widely Used in the Retail Sector

Retailers are fascinated by the potential of using AR to help sell products. What if the technology could remove a consumer's doubt before a purchase? Some brands are using AR chat to engage with customers. A shopper could talk to a customer service agent who sends an AR version of a garment to that person to see if it complements a piece of jewelry held in their hand. 

Other companies are rolling out AR sneaker apps that make the shoes appear on a person's feet even if they're not available to buy yet. Wannaby is one of the companies specializing in such applications. A Wannaby representative says each digital representation of a shoe requires 100-150 photographs of the footwear, with each shot showing a different angle.

So, if a company has hundreds or even thousands of shoes available for a person to "try on" digitally, it's easy to see how the data center requirements stack up. This approach works well, though, with people saying the results look shockingly realistic and not always distinguishable from the real thing.

VR May Soon Become More Prominent in Health Care

A company called XRHealth recently launched the first VR telehealth solution. It's currently available in eight U.S. states and the District of Colombia. Once a patient gets set up with a telehealth provider, they'll receive a VR headset through the mail if they don't currently have one. Next, the telehealth practitioner will give them VR-driven therapies to do. 

The types of conditions and ailments suited for this approach vary from neurological disorders to night sweats. All patient activity gets tracked in real-time, then the providers receive updated information about treatment plans.

Although it's not clear how many people will choose to integrate VR into health care like this, or whether other brands will emerge, this is another trend that could make data centers even more necessary.

Virtual and Augmented Reality Data Is Increasing

These trends show that virtual and augmented reality data amounts are not likely to decrease. They're ramping up, and data centers must be ready for the changes.

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