Applications Of Immersive Technologies In Smart Cities


For a while now, there's been great interest in smart cities. While there is no universally accepted definition of a smart city, the ultimate aim is to provide improved citizen services and a better lifestyle to urban dwellers.

In the quest to transform this ambitious plan into reality, governments, urban planners, engineers and architects are collaboratively strategizing and leveraging new age, digital technologies. Big data, AI, IoT, and cloud are a few of the technologies that can contribute to make this initiative a success. While these technological tools help in accomplishing smart city success, augmented reality and virtual reality in smart cities can improve residents' self-reliance and decision-making. Immersive technologies that either immerse users into an altogether different, interactive and digital environment or superimpose digital content into a physical world, have unique and compelling uses in smart cities, like the ones discussed below:

Augmented Reality in Smart Cities

With the availability of high-speed, consistent network connectivity, AR technology has matured enough to impact cities in becoming smart, digital, and connected in the following ways:

Augmented Reality: Navigation, Disaster Response, Medical services   Virtual Reality: Education, Urban Planning, Police Training ALLERIN


Navigation apps are one of the most important tools for commuters in urban cities. These apps recommend the shortest routes, helping people to commute easily from one location to another in less time. However, AR promises to offer an even more compelling and unique experience for those in need of navigation help.

Today, if we get stuck while traveling to a new place, we take out our smartphones and open the navigation app for help. We have to look at our smartphone screen constantly so that we don't miss out on any directions. The approach we follow is inconvenient and unsafe. AR can play an important role here. Rather than presenting users with a complicated map, AR uses the phone camera to get information on the user's location, augment navigational content on the mobile display, and help them navigate while they walk, etc. Those using an AR-based navigation app just move their phone around and AR uses an indicator to point out the right direction. For instance, view this AR-based navigation app as it works, here. This way, AR can provide users with not only a novel navigation experience but also help in commuting safely.

Disaster Response

When a disaster hits, first responders should have seamless and clear communication with others, involving proper information about current conditions, and prompt decision-making capabilities to provide appropriate guidance and help. To carry out relief and safety operations, these officials should be given the right tools and support. AR tools can provide the best assistance and support for their needs.

Imagine when floods happen and people are stranded and need to be rescued. The rescue officers should be quickly and safely guided to the destination since wires that get submerged in water can pose serious risks to them. Scenarios like these can be handled well by AR. Just by wearing an AR-based smart glass, officers can obtain in-depth information about the location, the stranded people, and the safest route to reach them.

Further, AR can be used to train rescue officers with interactive visual effects, helping them to experience real threats. Training like this can boost the officers' confidence, which will help them carry out safe evacuation operations.

Medical Services

Along with maintaining the standard of living, smart cities also focus on improving the resident’s well-being and mental health. While digital technologies have always been impactful in the healthcare sector, AR’s potential in the medical sector is truly novel and innovative.

Nowadays, patients are becoming more and more health-conscious and are expecting to be constantly updated on their health conditions and complications. However, despite doctors explaining their health conditions to them, there sometimes remains communication gaps, which may later give rise to conflicts. AR can solve this issue for us. PatientAR, an AR app that is designed by an orthopaedic medical company, allows patients to better understand their knee condition, helping them, and their doctors to be on the same page.

Virtual Reality in Smart Cities

VR, a technology that immerses users into an altogether different world by showing them an illusory version of reality, has the following potential uses in smart cities


Traditional learning approaches are deemed boring by 60 percent of students. These approaches are not only boring but also ineffective. The use of VR provides an exceptional and innovative way to increase knowledge retention for students at affordable prices.

Imagine students getting an opportunity to travel to remote geographic locations or World War scenarios. Imagine them getting to touch a human organ in anatomy class or visiting some other planet in the solar system for physics lessons. That's only possible with the power of VR. VR technology can, thus, make learning so easy and understandable for students, helping them rapidly grow in their career.

Urban Planning

Smart cities incorporate sensors, cameras and actuators while building new structures or infrastructures. Smart cities focus on optimized use of space, making transportation easier, and emitting fewer greenhouse emissions from buildings. All of these require extensive planning before the development process. Construction and structural engineers today use 3D drawing models and other visualization tools and technologies to create flawless architectural models.

With the help of VR, city planners can effectively check whether the built model fits the existing infrastructural constraints and space. If not, then the engineers can make the required alterations to the model. The virtual avatar of the city, having all the required infrastructural designs, will give urban planners and engineers a clear understanding of what to build and where. And, residents may be allowed to provide suggestions as to how cities can be better transformed and developed.

Police Training

It is important to establish effective training programs for novice police officers. Exposing them to real-life high-stakes situations and allowing them to deal with the same will help officers to become more confident during an actual crisis. However, providing such a real-life training setup is not only expensive, but it is also time-consuming.

VR, on the other hand, can immerse the police officers into a training world, where they will be put into real-life locations and threat situations. Officers, when exposed to a realistic environment will learn to not only deal with catastrophes but also manage the post-incident responses. Officers who aren’t performing well can be identified and instructed on the spot. With VR, police officers will be trained for every foreseeable emergency and will be ready to take action in dangerous circumstances.

With the availability of affordable hardware and consistent Internet connectivity, augmented reality and virtual reality are becoming easily accessible for transforming city-related plans into reality. Having the potential to provide engaging experiences to users, augmented reality and virtual reality in smart cities have a tremendous ability to transform and revolutionize residents’ lifestyles.

Naveen Joshi is Founder and CEO of Allerin, which develops engineering and technology solutions focused on optimal customer experiences. Naveen works in AI, Big Data, IoT and Blockchain. An influencer with a half a million followers, he is a highly seasoned professional with more than 20 years of comprehensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment.