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Do you remember times before the World Wide Web? With technology being a central part of our daily lives– it feels like a fuzzy memory to recall a world without it. The Web made it possible for people to share information and connect from thousands of miles apart. It is easy to take it for granted now, as everything we need is right at our fingertips. 

What if I told you that we may have another revolutionary period coming our way. That is one of emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR)  and Virtual Reality (VR).  

You may think integrating such new technology is out of the question, at least in the near future. 

However, let’s dive into the story of the World Wide Web a little more. 

The World Wide Web marks the end of an era of frustrating incompatibilities between computer systems. According to Tim Berners Lee, it is defined as “ The universe of global network-accessible information”. The Web, put simply, is a shared information space where people can collaborate and communicate. 

Today, we are certain it has made our lives easier. I personally cannot imagine doing research before the Web. I could list an endless list of other tasks that are accelerated because of this information system. Yet, back then, people still doubted the power of the World Wide Web. In fact, Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the web, was first rejected when he presented his idea. There was also a great deal of resistance, as skeptics were worried about the adverse effects on the economy and society as a whole. 

In his article, Sergey Galyonkin, recalls trying to raise venture capital for the world’s first internet advertising company in 1995, and couldn’t find a single investor. Nobody believed it would take off, but in a matter of five years, that quickly changed. 

If we had a looking glass into the future we would see that emerging technologies will become an integral part of our lives– much like the Internet and Web are today. AR and VR will follow a similar trajectory to that of the World Wide Web.  

There are definitely skeptics in this space too, with distress over a plausible “hyper-reality” if we merge AR with our current world. Although it is important to take these potential issues into account, we will certainly develop ethics around interactive technology as we move forward. 

Emerging tech will transform industries across the globe. In particular, our education system, which has not radically changed in decades. Children thrive in an environment where they can tap into their creativity– and technology has the ability to customize experiences for each individual student and their learning needs. As computers and iPhones are strictly virtual, augmented reality combines both real and virtual content. Learning could be much more engaging if a student could put on a set of glasses and interact with a multi-dimensional image of the inside of a cell or a chemical element. 

Galyonkin reiterates that “Virtual Reality holds the promise to be even more transformative than the flat Web was — reaching into every segment of every market and remaking it to be virtually accessible”.  He mentions virtual reality touching industries like real estate, eCommerce, and entertainment.

Can we draw similarities to the rise of the World Wide Web and emerging technology? I like to think so. There will always be resistance to change and the unknown, but in the end, we will see how humans and technology can thrive together to create an exciting and transformative future.