Augmented Reality – Pioneering the Metaverse in Scotland

As suggested in a previous blog, Scotland could greatly accelerate their digital economy success through concentrating investment into key, very high growth niche sectors, like the intersection between Cloud Gaming and Augmented Reality.

That’s just one niche that a general expertise in AR would make possible, building capacity in this sector would yield multiple industry opportunities.

Mozenix, one of Scotland’s leading experts in the field, describe how it is set to be a booming £170 billion market by 2022, with growth being driven across a wide range of industry verticals including entertainment, retail, construction, health and care, utilities and oil and gas.

The inspiring vision for where all this leads is captured by Marko Balabanovic in his article Who Will Own the Metaverse.

Describing ‘the Metaverse‘, a “collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet”, Marko explores the background, industry applications and technology stack that makes up this exciting evolution.

It’s also called the ‘AR Cloud‘, “a persistent 3D digital copy of the real world to enable sharing of AR experiences across multiple users and devices” that will ‘infuse meaning into every object in the real world’. VentureBeat offers this primer, describing it as the next version of the Internet, with massive implications for every industry such as movies.

Business and Govt applications

For Scotland the opportunity is that this futuristic vision offers real-world application now, and in areas that offer considerable strategic benefit and market advantage.

For example leveraging our Oil and Gas sector to develop new solutions for their needs could then be parlayed into an offering with global export potential. As reported in Energy Voice, Mozenix is doing exactly that, developing a mobile app that uses the camera on a smartphone or tablet to recognise oil and gas structures and then bring up identification tags and information about them on screen.

Waracle, owners of Mozenix, describe how this will enable a broader transformation of the sector. An article by Kumulos cites this case study as part of explaining how AR will be utilized across many industrial sectors.

Telemedicine is another keynote scenario, such as the MOD taking on AR for military use. With Scotland being such a highly distributed rural country, with an active program to role out remote telecare, there is great potential to enrich these services with AR. This Mozenix video reports on how this type of innovation is being developed at Ninewells in Dundee.

Digital Tourism

Another high impact sector is tourism. Enhancing the experience with these types of exciting innovations will draw in even greater visitor numbers and continue the massive economic success of this industry. This Conversation article comments on the details of this economic success and the critical role immersive experiences can play in facilitating this boost.

Simple examples include AR tourism guides, such as this one for Inverness Castle, and for Loch Lomond they inserted ‘Zapcodes’ into the local guide magazine, to trigger AR links that enhance the printed word with a virtual experience.

You can discover Fife and discover the Highlands via AR:

Virtual Treasure Hunts

For more advanced and engaging experience the technology can be combined with features like ‘Gamification’, to enable super fun activities like Virtual Treasure Hunts. As the Conversation article highlights:

It’s the sort of immersive experience that many tourist attractions want to have these days. At the Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire, dedicated to Robert Burns, visitors can download an app aimed at children called the Mighty Mission Trail. It sends them on a virtual treasure hunt throughout the site and surroundings.

This highlights the other types of technologies that can be called into play. For example Google Maps Gaming provides a capability for making more use of location data in mobile games, the Pokemon Go type, that can ‘can unlock augmented reality and social gameplay, can increase engagement and retention, and can help bring new life to games that were originally designed without a location component.’

This is complimented by their general capabilities for improving navigation, such as AR Navigation and harnessing AI for Global Navigation, helping you to better navigate cities.

These various innovations provide the building blocks for creating any type of highly immersive, highly engaging experience, that better enables visitors to explore and enjoy attractions, with the ability to ‘gamify’ the experience of particular value for those looking to attract children and young families.

In general this barely scratches the surface of the staggering scale of opportunity this technology trend offers Scotland. From Oil & Gas through Telemedicine and Digital Tourism, Augmented Reality can enable a myriad of transformative industry solutions, each with valuable local application and also huge global export potential.

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