Reality Check: Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Realities
There’s been a lot of talk about AR and VR over the past few years. As always, technology is moving fast and these terms are no longer the focus of conversations about the future. So we figured it was time to take a dive into the ”what, why and how” of these technologies, also looking at how they can be implemented right here, right now.
AR vs VR: What’s the Difference (and what’s Mixed Reality?)
This is considered a “disruptive” technology, using a mobile device (camera) or purpose-built glasses, whilst imagery is augmented over the real world. Love it or hate it, as a very basic example, think Pokemon Go, released in 2016 and quick to take over the world, augmenting Pokemon over the real world based on geo location, no headset required. Here’s a nice roundup of some great use of Augumented Reality in marketing.
Described as an “immersive” technology, think PlayStationVR and Oculus Rift, which, when worn, transport the user to another world entirely, effectively shutting out the real world. Example: Mark Zuckerberg’s favourite from Oculus Studios, “Lone Echo”. Virtual Dream creates VR experiences for children in hospital who are unable to experience the outside world, transporting them into magical, virtual experiences from their hospital beds.
As the name suggests, this is a hybrid of both AR and VR. There is a more advanced application of the technology using sensors and advanced optics, amongst other technologies. By scanning the user’s surroundings and creating a 3D map, the device can place digital content in a realistic way: synthetic digital images are merged with real spaces. A high-end example is Microsoft’s HoloLens, which requires the user to wear glasses that don’t hinder peripheral vision, allowing free movement. An example of a mobile device version of this technology: the device can be placed in a VR headset, and using the camera, the real world is displayed with augmentations (AR) synthesised into view. The user can trigger a VR mode (switching the camera off), teleporting them into an immersive VR experience.
Who's the Boss?
The prediction is that, by 2020, Augmented Reality will eclipse its Virtual cousin, and some predict that Mixed Reality will overtake that. Already, augmented reality has many practical applications: Caterpillar, who manufacture construction and mining equipment, have enabled their Engineers to service machinery in the field using AR instead of referring to computers. Using a phone, tablet or wearing AR glasses, Caterpillar's Field Engineers are provided with virtual instructions on exactly how to perform tasks associated with repairing and maintaining their equipment, thereby streamlining the operation and increasing efficiency.
Organisations are quickly catching on to the benefits of VR for training purposes. Check out KFC's latest training video, which serves as not only an effective training tool but is great ammunition in their recruitment arsenal. Walmart uses this technology for particularly busy periods (think Black Friday). VR is also hugely beneficial for process and muscle memory training, outperforming standard video-based training.
We have the technology!
And yes, here at Terabyte we have the technology and the capability to create AR and VR experiences. Recently we produced an Android and iPhone VR app for Fairfax Media. This was NZ's first VR documentary to accompany a 6-part video investigation into a controversial battle in Afghanistan involving our soldiers. Check it out here.
We have also worked with a leading NZ manufacturer to bring their products to life in augmented reality. This resulted in a highly engaging and interactive tool for sales and training purposes.
The possibilities for both VR and AR are wide ranging: get in touch to talk about how you might adopt this technology for your business, and how it could ignite your sales and/or engage your team for training.