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How SLAM works with Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a matter of perspective: many see it as a mere gaming-related technology, and the remaining part of the mass audience sees VR as an impactful, powerful technology which is going to change the technological sphere as we know it. In the past five years, VR has reached and peaked its processing, computing and algorithmic power, with more sophisticated hardware and software to process what is gathered from the sensors/peripherals. In this article, we’re going to dissect a piece of VR technology which has been impacting the entire sphere: SLAM.

What Is SLAM?

Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (or SLAM, as above) is an application which relies on transposing data gathered via peripherals into the digital world and vice-versa. SLAM works by combining three different programming language, which is stating to us how focused the entire matter is towards automation, machine learning and floor analysis.

SLAM is usually connected to technological spheres such as Robotics, Reality Augmentation, Deep Learning and related. SLAM, in simpler terms, could be considered as an Internal Development Environment (IDE) where data gathered from the real world can be translated, processed and modified independently and with (almost) no latency as from when it is gathered. 

How Does It Work?

As said above, SLAM is an architectural build-related technology which translates data from the real world into a digital environment. To better understand this process, the best example would be analysing the most advanced SLAM-related algorithm currently available on the market: TESLA’s autopilot.

Elon Musk’s company has always been ahead of competitors, within the automotive sector and its technological state. SLAM is used within the central computer which regulates the entire vehicle and is the one application which tells the car where and when there are dangers nearby/updates the surroundings’ map by cross-referencing data gathered by sensors with data provided by Google Maps/TOMtom. The difference between usual sensors and SLAM-based ones is the (as said above) almost total latency absence. 

What is the value of SLAM with VR?

Aside from the automotive sector, SLAM is rapidly moving towards spheres such as surgery training, as it is very likely to improve the already very advanced VR-based surgery simulations, by giving more detail and a better “human” response to the surgeon’s movements.

This single application has already created multi-million dollars projections, in terms of investments from more prominent medical companies and pharma-related technology suppliers. This states how powerful the piece of technology is: if its performances (in the future, clearly) in a very niche sector are incredibly groundbreaking, the likeness of its applications in something more “mainstream” such as gaming and mobile is very high.

Why mobile is the next big peripheral

As stated above, this specific technology is very likely to impact a variety of business spheres, and its mobile implementation is, of course, one of the first which comes to mind, given the signals which have been noticed within the industry.

The UK, which has recently been elected as the European technological powerhouse, has seen a net increase in mobile development investments, with app developers opening VR-based branches and applying their builds to SLAM, VR in general and AR (Augmented reality is, in fact, still a significant factor within the VRoT, Virtual Reality of Things). Of course, mobile as a whole has peaked its maximum when it comes to hardware power and we will see VR being applied to this sphere more and more in the future.

Concluding remarks

SLAM is one of the most exciting branches of VR as a whole, with dozens of possible applications being impacted by this matter. Being extremely interesting from both a technological and development point of view, this could also be a fantastic opportunity for machine learning developers who want to embrace other business fields.


Paul Matthews


Paul Matthews is a Manchester-based business and tech writer who writes in order to better inform business owners on how to run a successful business. You can usually find him at the local library or browsing Forbes’ latest pieces.