The experiential factor in augmented and virtual reality leads to a more vivid sense of presence and immersion, when compared to other media like television or radio. This makes AR and VR powerful platforms for social engagement, education and adventure.

As part of Innovation Policy Day at SXSW, I took part in a panel discussion led by the Consumer Technology Association’s Michael Hayes on what AR and VR will revolution next. Joining me were Tim Hwang, Google’s public policy counsel, and James Hairston, head of public policy for Oculus. You can see the full video below:

Imagining what AR and VR will revolutionize is no small task. Entrepr are trying to make the next “killer app,” which may be as simple as viewing your two-dimensional computer screen in virtual or as complicated as exploring a vast, immersive, open virtual world reminiscent of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Augmented and virtual reality can aid in job training by simulating flight or manufacturing processes. VR can help paraplegics learn to walk again by retraining the brain to recognize limbs.

AR and VR will also change how we will communicate. While video games often are viewed as antisocial, in VR, this does not have to be the case. Users can interact with artificially intelligent non-player characters or hang out with friends in virtual spaces. By practicing in VR, people can overcome social anxiety in public speaking or other social experiences.

Imagining these good applications for VR and AR is best left to entrepreneurs. According to economist Israel Kirzner, entrepreneurs rely on local knowledge—their own relevant experiences—to envision opportunities for profit. For example, a local Austin resident suggested that an AR headset that could display true north would be helpful to individuals who set up antennae for telecommunications infrastructure. The role of policymakers should be to let these entrepreneurs experiment.

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