VR & AR today are the technologies everybody talks about. Still, the end-user has had little interference with both. Products like the Oculus Rift are already in stores, but they’ve not yet become the next smartphones, while others like Google Glass are almost impossible to come by. But what are the VR and AR? Are they the next big thing or just an overhyped technology? Are they the leaders of a new digital revolution or just a new means of entertainment? That’s what we’ll try to answer.
VR (Virtual Reality) & AR (Augmented Reality) are two ways that tech can change the way you see the world around you.
VR is "the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment.” Meaning you are transported to an entirely new wholly digital world which has nothing to do with reality. The people, looking like some strange versions of Robocop, wearing tech helms, covering their eyes, these are the people who use VR!
On the other hand, AR is not some kind of competitor to VR. They’re in fact interconnected, and in the core, they both have two similar techs, but there’re some crucial differences. AR is an “enhanced version of reality” that overlays digital elements onto the real world. It uses the environment around us and builds on it.
Let me be honest, the first time I encountered VR & AR, I wasn’t impressed at all. I thought they’re far from practical and are created just for the sake of presenting something new. I didn’t believe they would’ve been able to change the world by a bit. Until I made my research …
I was blown away by the ways they’ve already been implemented all around us. And after I started thinking about all the possibilities they’re unlocking, I immediately wanted to make all my projects connected to VR or AR. Today they’re all around us more than we think. Let me present to you just some of the things these miraculous technologies have already changed irrevocably.
The first time I encountered VR at first hand was through the Oculus Rift. At that point, I was really under the impression VR presented extreme possibilities for the world of entertainment. It wasn’t about playing games or watching movies anymore; it was about living in the world they create, breathing in this world, experiencing it and its possibilities first-hand. That was the first time I felt like a superhero, literally. But that’s how the means outgrew its end:
The part I hate about trips is the preplanning. It takes an enormous amount of time to browse through hotels’ websites to pick the one that suits you and yet you might get your dreams destroyed when the time for accommodation comes. But today more and more hotels offer a virtual tour. You can roam around the lobby, SPA centers, restaurants, rooms, corridors, and facilities. Hotels like the Marriot have opened all their locations around the world for virtual touring. And such practices come with a queue of clients, some experiencing VR and getting to know your brand, while others are just hoping to find their desired place and book it as soon as possible.
If you are a geek when it comes to haute couture, you probably already know this, but fashion has always been among the trendsetters when it comes to marketing. And VR has made the world of bold ideas and exquisite taste even broader. It gives an enormous opportunity to present collections to a wide audience ubiquitously in a new and engaging way. Among the first to realize this was Topshop who’ve transported people to the front row of London Fashion Week 2014 through a VR experience This way the fashion campaign not only prolonged its life but outgrew its usual audience by miles.
Starting as an entertainment mechanics and later broadly used to help the business and marketing campaigns, VR became even a life-saving practice. The technology found its way to medicine and became a revolutionary treatment method for pre-operative anxiety, pain and stress, bipolar disorder, paraplegia (impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities), and memory loss. Stanford Medicine & Lighthouse Inc. also introduced a new way of diagnosing congenital heart defects and other heart-related issues through a 360 graphics display. This technology significantly decreases the risk of wrong diagnosing and makes the communication between patients and surgeons way more efficient.
VR gave investigators the ability to surmount some of the challenging conditions when examining a crime scene. Basically today some police forces can recreate a crime scene, giving them an unlimited amount of time to investigate. The technology significantly increases the effectiveness of crime investigation, and many companies have started developing various software products for the field.
Let us be honest – nobody imagines dying at the workplace. But in the near past, people who’ve been testing for the automotive industry were at least risking an injury. Today, thanks to VR, routine tests are easily made through virtual simulators, even professional drivers nowadays are practicing through those. If someone is honestly happy about the rise of VR, these people are for sure among the cheering.
Have you heard that a cancer surgeon trained more than 13 000 medical students through a 360° live video? He literally invited everyone in the operation room and showed them how practical education and VR go hand to hand. Just think about the countless possibilities that virtual reality presents to a more in-depth practically oriented video training. This could forever change the education system as we know it.
The buzz around AR has always been around, we’ve been watching movies about technologies that build digital layers onto the environment for years, and most of us craved for using them. The first real social blaster that the industry introduced though came a bit late, but as anticipated, it became not only a trend but a phenomenon. Pokemon GO introduced us to the countless possibilities of AR. I can remember the millions of people roaming the streets chasing and catching Pokemon. The in-game shop also let users buy and place lures. This quickly became a feature in real life as cafes and bars soon started using those marketing-wise to lure not only Pokemon but players who wanted to catch those and thus became everyday customers. What’s extraordinary about AR is that it’s a collaboration between the real and the digital and the options it presents to us are countless. Let’s take a look at how it actually boosted the experience many businesses offer their customers:
The old-day of browsing through catalogues and buying a lipstick you’re not quite sure will suit you, are over. Today retailers like Sephora offer clients virtual rooms where they can test how products actually look on them. You can put on makeup, lipstick, and even nail polish, to determine whether it’s your product or not. AR changed the way we shop forever; it made it an experience of buying through the heart, not through the shelf.
We live in a society which speaks about the healthy lifestyle more and more. With it, the QSR, which fit our quick-paced daily routine but usually do not offer the desired calorie standard, have to attract customers through more than just a service. This is why many of these restaurants are looking for the personal-touch for clients. AR gives them this incredible opportunity. Chains like Starbucks, who’ve always been the tech savvies in the industry, started presenting clients with various interactive surprises like the “Every Love on Every Cup” campaign. The marketing stunt around St. Valentine’s Day made coffee cups come to live once scanned via a smartphone and presented clients with various personal animations that made everyone eager to buy their next coffee.
One of the most tiresome and nerve-racking experiences in everybody’s life is the renovation. I remember how we use to walk around stores with a meter, pictures of the apartment or house we lived in and a bag of patience so you can measure everything and try fit it under the same roof. Thank god that retailers like Ikea started introducing their AR apps that let you choose a piece of furniture and see how it looks in the environment without ever leaving your home. Then you only add it to the basket and turn this dreadful experience into family fun. I personally just have to thank everyone involved in the development of such applications. It saves months!
Have you heard of the new AR browsers? They practically let you interfere with the environment on a whole new level. You have to just aim your camera at a particular building and information will start popping up on your screen. You’ll be able to see the building’s history, estimated value, offices of companies there, restaurants and anything you might want to know. The possibilities here have no end, so I suggest you just google Argon4, AR Browser SDK, or some of the others and give them a try!
Usually, a sign of a great campaign is one that manages to combine both offline and online experience for the audience. It shouldn’t be too complicated though as most people will ignore it unless there’s some great reward at the end of it. AR practically does all that and everything that the user needs is a smartphone, a thing that now almost everyone has. Marketing has leveraged on AR more than any other sector, to be honest. Now you only need to scan a movie poster and your phones instantly play you the trailer and suggest ways to buy tickets. There are campaigns against pollution that turn your head into a recycle bin, and you have to save the Earth from raining trash. Universal Studios offer a meeting with Jurasic Park’s dinosaurs and the US Postal Service let users scan mailboxes and be treated to a holiday animated card. AR helped shape the market to a place where consumers search for a more personal touch and buy with their hearts.
Although the Glass Project (originally known as “Google Glass”), did not turn out to be the next iPhone, it still looks promising, especially the Enterprise version, Google have promised on bringing to the market. These smart glasses use the environment overlaying it with contextual information and primarily serving as smartphones or even computers you carry on your eyes. The project is yet to be refined as now it’s available to a very limited few, but this is one of the things in the area you should be looking for. Personally, I am craving to lay my hands on those smart glasses for a few years now!
With all these things said and examples been given, just think about how AR and VR can change the way the society functions. They could revolutionize the education system, business, medicine, crime investigation, architecture, and our lifestyle! Are you thoughts already drifting towards a new invention that will shape the tomorrow? You don’t have to be a tech-savvy to have an idea that will change the world. You just have to find the right masters of technology that’ll help you pave the way towards a tomorrow we’ve been reading about for years. Be brave and start your digital revolution, Infoleven is here to craft you the tools of change!
Adrian is one of the Project & Account managers at Infoleven. He is also one of the initial team members that started the company and has been pushing forward with it ever since.
He specialises in working with Start Ups and building teams from the scratch.
A tech savvy person you can always find behind his laptop and a cup of tea.