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December 18, 2017

In the emerging technology arena, we are seeing a proliferation of Virtual and Augmented Reality devices. Virtual Reality (VR) immerses the user in a computer-simulated environment through the use of an oculus, and many of us have experienced VR through gaming. We also have an idea of what is possible when this technology is extended for other uses. For example, CSRA’s VirtualShip® maritime simulation software solution uses VR to train U.S. Navy, Army and Coast Guard captains to pilot ships. This real-world application shows how VR has evolved beyond gaming.

Now we are seeing Augmented Reality (AR) come out of the fringe, grabbing the attention of tech organizations that envision innovative applications. AR enhances real environments by layering on computer-generated enhancements that tap into the user’s senses. You can see AR in action in this Pepsi Max video and it’s pretty mind blowing.

This got me thinking: What are some of the ways that organizations can utilize AR to enhance their customer experiences? Here are a few ideas that come to mind if I put my imagination to work.

Here in the DC area, I can see some potential applications for the tourist industry. What if they employed AR so that tourists could have a fully immersive educational experience during their visit to the various museums and monuments?  Imagine, for example, the AR application that could be leveraged at the Air and Space Museum: Tourists could walk alongside the astronauts as they walked the surface of the moon.

AR could improve the patent application process. Inventors would likely welcome the reduced demonstration cost of patents, as they could submit their invention via AR showing in real time how their invention works. It would reduce the initial time and storage requirement for patents. A QR code on a patent application is a lot smaller than a 23-foot tall new wave Farm Combine that company A is trying to patent.

By using AR, drones, and infrared (IR) cameras, search and rescue missions can operate centrally and more effectively. The AR would allow users to virtually see the terrain of the quadrant they are evaluating. Areas with difficult to navigate terrain are better suited for drone deployments. Drones would expand the ability of the rescue team to search for missing people. Drones armed with IR cameras could search long after humans have to stop because of darkness. All of this would visible on a GPS-integrated map that shows the entire search area. A human can look at the map and quickly see grids that don't have search input. Drones could be deployed more quickly to remote areas than humans can. The AR map would allow the search team more flexibility and greater range of search management going forward.

It’s fun to think about what’s possible with VR and AR. At CSRA, we are focused on helping our government customers innovate, and so I’m particularly interested in the potential of AR in the federal space. We’ll be keeping our collective eye on this new technology. It’s all part of CSRA’s future-focused culture which encourages us to Think Next. Now!


Scott Andersen is a 27-year IT professional who has built and delivered solutions for US Government agencies and fortune 500 companies globally. Over the course of his career, Andersen has embarked on a number of new technology journeys and new solutions. Today, Andersen focuses on IT cloud solutions, but has an eye on what the future holds. Andersen lives in Maryland with his wonderful family.