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What if Darwin wore VR glasses?

Roosmarijn Cornelissen | Published: June 21, 2019 21:15:07


Today most people think of gaming, virtual reality glasses and video when asked about virtual reality. The concepts of virtual reality in these areas have been around for some years, but what if we look beyond this media space. Do you realise that the egg you are eating will be created through virtual reality? Or quality of the meat will be derived by virtual reality?

Virtual reality is much more than gaming and video.  Increasingly, it is being powered by predictive analytics and creating virtual data points to create virtual environments to help us see a whole new future of possibilities. 

For instance, researchers from Oxford have applied genetics data to virtual reality, to visualise how genes and strings of DNA sit within the chromosomes. Their resulting 3-D presentation clearly showed how genes sit in relation to each other and how they interact with each other. And the purpose?  Visualising such interactions helps us better understand how DNA works and develops.

As Stephen Taylor (2017), Head of the Computational Biology Research Group at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, stated: 'being able to visualise such data is important because the human brain is very good at pattern recognition - we tend to think visually.'

While not all companies see the opportunity yet for virtual reality in their business model, most are engaging in data-driven strategies to enable the storage and analytics of data in the near future.  Little do they realise that this type of activity can lead them to a journey into virtual reality.

As a case in point, today companies in animal breeding are moving towards virtual breeding. In animal breeding, the creatures involved need to be continuously monitored so that a thorough understanding of their physiological and psychological conditions can be gained, given that what is desired are best in breed animals or dairy and meat products.

This can result in thousands of data points being continuously saved minute by minute, detailing room temperature, body size, body weight and the beast's vital statistics, such as heart rate.  Even in fish breeding, the fish are scanned by ultrasounds several times a day.

The explosive amount of data derived from the animals makes it possible to undertake advanced and predictive analytics. From the results, the breeding company can create virtual animals and breed them virtually, creating what if scenarios around changes in feed and environmental conditions.  By doing it virtually, they can create a far faster time to market as they no longer have to go through the process of raising the physical animals to see how they respond to different circumstances, processes that can take years.

Most importantly, it means far fewer real animals are needed and the ones that do 'come to life' experience less stress thanks to non-invasive appliances such as ultrasound. Additionally, the infrastructure to support such work in terms of breeding pens and laboratories, are reduced, resulting in a significant cost reduction on the research and development (R&D) side.

As you can see, by only considering how virtual reality can impact the animal world, a massive amount of opportunities can come to light for the agricultural sector, and related animal testing and fauna related educational sector.  So it would be of little surprise to increasingly find that the quality eggs and bacon will be enhanced via virtual reality.

What about business outside this area?  Although most companies might not see virtual reality fitting much into their business, most are looking to what drives it: machine learning and data. As such, the more creative and visual organisations out there should start to look to the virtual world, to see how it can help them speed up time to market, reduce cost, lower risk, increase sustainability and so on. The opportunity is all around us, you just need to see the virtual reality for your business.

Roosmarijn Cornelissen is Director, IT Strategy & Cloud Insight, Oracle Cloud Insight EMEA & JAPAC.
roosmarijn.cornelissen@oracle.com

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