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How Will New Developments in Virtual and Augmented Reality Technology Impact Smart Cities?

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Not so long ago, the perception of virtual and augmented reality technologies was confined to science fiction. Movies like Avatar, The Matrix, and Total Recall painted a picture of what could be possible. Today’s virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology is not quite as immersive as these examples, but it is advancing rapidly. Today, many businesses are recognizing the benefits of using augmented and virtual realities to improve their operations. AR and VR are now being used for everything from prototyping and design to marketing, customer service, training, and productivity. 

While experts are split about the evolution of a truly immersive “metaverse,” they do expect that augmented and mixed-reality enhancements will become more useful in people’s daily lives. This is especially true when it comes to smart cities that commonly use Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. However, according to Jamie Cameron, director of digital solutions at building security company Johnson Controls, “connectivity and technology are not the end goal for smart cities—they are the means to improving the quality of life for city residents.” And with virtual and augmented reality technologies, smart cities could be much smarter.

Making Smart Cities More Sustainable

With the UN projecting 68% of the world population to live in urban areas by 2050, the combined carbon footprint of the world’s different cities is only set to grow. Connected communities have an advantage because they can use IoT technology to understand the problem and then help solve it. 

Smart cities can collect a wealth of data by installing different sensors around the community. These sensors can range from measuring air quality, as used by the London Air Quality Network; or detecting leaking water pipes, as Vodafone has recently partnered with SES Water to do. After collecting the data, the smart cities can decide what to do with all that information. A model of a city known as a digital twin can be used to simulate how different policies may affect a city. It can also provide insight into progress being made towards sustainability targets.

Creating Safer Smart Cities

The infrastructure and systems needed to successfully collect, analyze, and transmit information across a city are complex and comprehensive. Smart cities may represent a better way to plan and manage urban living, but they also serve as attractive new targets for cyber criminals. Digital enhancement enhances digital risk. To keep a smart city running smoothly, governments need tech-enabled support desks to help resolve problems. Smart cities are built from data, but what information is collected, who has access to it, and how it may be used are all highly contentious areas impacting public trust.

Enhancing the Quality of Life in Smart Cities

To improve the quality of life in urban spaces, city councils, urban planners, and developers are exploring cutting-edge digital solutions that can potentially power smart cities. Augmented reality technology is a promising solution. AR works by overlaying digital information in real-world environments: all you need is a smartphone and AR can provide constant feedback within smart cities, allowing everyone to make informed decisions in their day-to-day life. AR can make urban spaces more people centered and improve urban mobility, public safety, public health, and tourism.

Keep up with AR/VR Technology

Information and communication technologies have made smart cities a reality. However, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies have shifted the smart city paradigm. Practical Applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Business and Society: The Case of Smart Cities will help keep you current with AR/VR technology.

Interested in the course? Visit the IEEE Learning Network.

Resources:

Anderson, Janna and Raine, Lee. (30 June 2022). The Metaverse in 2040. Pew Research Center. 

Dumbell, Katherine. (18 July 2022). How smart technology can make cities more sustainable? Verdict. 

Galil, Eran. (16 July 2022). Improving the customer experience with virtual and augmented reality. VentureBeat.

Imperial College London. (21 July 2022). About Londair. LondonAir.

Lee, Giacomo. (6 January 2022). Meet the tech CEO who survived a flood and built a digital twin of Earth. Verdict.

Manser, James. (5 June 2020). How IoT tech could save the UK three billion litres of water a dayVodafone.

Milewa, Gergana. (12 September 2021). How Smart Cities Can Use Augmented Reality Technology. AR Post. 

Rosenburg, Louis. (28 December 2021). Why AR, not VR, will be the heart of the metaverse. VentureBeat.

Open Access News. (15 November 2021). Connectivity: The fundamental ingredient of a successful smart city. Open Access Government.

Open Access News. (28 June 2022). The cities of the future are smart – but we must also make them secure. Open Access Government.

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