Technology has always found a way to throw surprises, in a way we least expect it to. Mind-boggling inventions have changed the way of our lives since time immemorial. The realms of Immersive Technology, which is rapidly on the rise, is set to transform the way people work, live, and consume entertainment across the globe. It would in such a way that our interaction with content would never be the same again.
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR) define the two spectrums of immersive technology that could replace mobile computing. Though widely known for its gaming applications, the potential of AR/VR cannot be restricted to this. Now, let’s dive in and understand the scope of AR/VR applications.
The scope of applicability of AR/VR in the real-estate domain is multifarious. The technology enables designers to have a thorough understanding of the project through a 3D depiction of how it would look upon completion, even before the very foundation is laid. It is also an effective marketing solution, using which the designers could provide prospective customers with a virtual experience that gives them an idea of how the project will look upon its completion.
The most marked utility of the technology in this sector would be in the ambit of safety training. It is implicit that construction sites are riddled with accidents. Reports of workers falling from heights are so commonplace, that it has become an unavoidable facet of construction sites. Traditional training has evidently not been effective in this regard, thanks to our distraction-prone minds. Statistics suggest that VR experiences have led to a retention rate of 80% after a year of training, whilst traditional training showed a retention rate of only 20% after a week of training. The technology is increasingly being adopted by major construction companies, showing signs of a much-needed revolution.
While AR helps customers experience homes directly through interactive 3D visualizations, VR takes them out of the physical world, momentarily transporting them to their virtual home.
Traditionally, the marketing of interior design was done using oral explanations and 2D drawings. Effective as it may be, the method has room for clarity. A virtual depiction of a living space rather provides customers with a clear idea of the layout, thereby reducing any miscommunication between the consumer and the designer. Designers now have the option of testing colours and the interior landscape to calculate the necessary materials and labour costs.
An AR app makes for easier landscaping, while VR helps in creating plans for any construction and making attractive presentations of the design concept.
Marketing and Advertising
We now know that Immersive Technology provides an absorbing and attractive experience. Rendering such an experience creates an emotional chord with prospective customers and increases the likelihood of a purchase.
For example, we happened to work with a famed automobile manufacturing entity who liked to explore a method through which they could showcase the capabilities of its van to customers without taking it to their doorsteps every time. The platform created here enabled the sales personnel to provide a realistic depiction of the van through a virtual experience of the vehicle.
AR strengthens consumer engagement through interactive 3D means, while the fully immersive environment of VR helps in grabbing the attention of the avid viewer.
Our educational system is in severe need of upheaval, and VR intends to offer the future generation with an immersive experience so as to help them to learn by doing. It breathes life into subjects by rendering it a real-life depiction; be it animal behaviour, life sciences, or the fight of the Gandhi’s for an independent India – here is a platform where they’ll learn it all with curiosity and wonder.
To illustrate from our experiences, We had the opportunity to work with a renowned academic publisher who desired to make its educational content more creative. We created an AR content for their textbooks that explain complex concepts in a simple, fun, and immersive manner. These budding kids got to travel to the moon or walk into the great pyramids (no they weren’t taken there though).
AR experiences enable a student to observe learnings in a 3D environment, while VR facilitates realistic experiences of the subject.
Immersive Technology is a tool that helps reduce manufacturing costs while increasing productivity. Its utilities include research and design, review of workflows and benchmarking, maintenance, quality control and risk management, control of robotics, expert support, inventory picking, skilling, hands-on training, workplace design and layout, equipment design, product development, etc.
While AR accelerates factory processes and facilitates engineers to demonstrate prototypes, construction site, and the likes, VR mimics reality in a safe environment and plays a vital role in all the aforementioned aspects, among many others.
Virtual reality is proving to be a game-changer in the medical realms. It is emerging as a medium that could help in providing enhanced medical training to the next generation of medical specialists. Moreover, it enables the performance of surgery through robotic devices (thereby reducing complications during the surgical process and quickening the procedure), provides enhanced health treatments that could save lives, and helps in pain management (again, this is proven). Apart from physical ailments, VR is also suggested for diagnosing and treating dementia, depression, autism, and other psychiatric disorders.
While VR serves in the aforementioned ways, AR facilitates telemedicine – a process that helps in receiving medical consultation without visiting hospitals or clinics. Its other healthcare applications are similar to that of VR and includes augmented surgery, augmented diagnosis, augmented training of medical forces, etc.
E-commerce, the rapid growth of which wasn’t even contemplated in the dawn of this century, is all set to be influenced by another technological wonder – Immersive Technology.
AR and VR experiences would bring the customers closer to the products through personalized shopping experiences. Here are a few examples of how e-retailers are leveraging this technology:
- E-bay’s AR tool allows shoppers to hold their phone over any products and try those on virtual boxes. On a more precise note, they use a cardboard VR viewer called Shoptical to render a personalized in-store feeling to customers, irrespective of their location of purchase. The company is also planning the launch of a VR enabled departmental store in collaboration with the Australian retailer, Myers.
- Ikea’s Place app has enabled customers to experience the furniture desired by them at their home before deciding on a purchase.
- Sephora, a French chain of cosmetic stores, has designed an app that allows users to take a selfie and do a virtual test on how different cosmetic products would suit their faces.
- A hardware chain in the United States known as Lowe’s provides a virtual depiction of how their products would look like in the homes of the prospective customer.
Army researchers from the United States are exploring what Immersive Technology could offer to the military segment. Notably, the U.S. Department of Defence spends an estimated $14 billion or more per year on “synthetic” digital training (refers to a training method that trains personnel for real-life jobs through digital environments). VR/AR-based military training, provided by means of satellite imagery or body-worn sensor information, is envisaged to help the armed forces to collaborate and make decisions more effectively than traditional training.
These technologies facilitate the provision of training in any environment rather than in training centres, thereby saving time, cost, money, and stress. Like in all sectors, it is a training method built for enhanced work safety, wherein the training is provided in a safe environment.
VR/AR experiences, through satellite communications, earth observation, and navigation data, can be extended beyond the reach of terrestrial networks, provide updated live mapping, and convey location-specific information.
The technology is now leveraged by the astronauts of the ESA (European Space Agency) to help them prepare for life on the International Space Station.
Attracting the best of talents is a task that is easier said than done. AR/VR Technology helps recruiters in streamlining recruitment, creating a gamified application system, demonstrating virtual tours to candidates, assessing capabilities, providing training to the recruited workforce, and the likes.
Here are a few examples of its applicability:
- Sixsense Enterprises Inc., a motion tracking and VR software, provides recruiters with precise motion-tracking data to simulate, evaluate, and improve the skill sets of the candidate.
- ActiView, an Israeli start-up, is aiming to combine VR and machine learning to demarcate behavioural attributes among applications by estimating their performance in critical areas such as work methodology & approach, integrity, motivation, and cognitive skill sets.
AR maps are being implemented by Google. The facility would combine the functions of GPS location and Street View data to align with the exact location of the camera.
And make a note of this, the technology would be designed in such a way that your battery doesn’t drain.
AR provides a means for companies to showcase data by placing it in a visual context and thereby bringing it to life. VR facilitates the participation and conduct of conferences and shows, helping in the removal of both domestic and international barriers.
Both these technologies would be handy in translating or creating a common space for enhanced collaboration and changing the way teams learn, communicate, and interact with customers.
Oil & Gas
The Oil & Gas sector falls among the domains that would be highly impacted by this brilliant technology.
It influences areas such as operations, underground surface terrain analysis, training of personnel, and a host of others.
Gaming and Entertainment
The AR/VR wave was first felt in the gaming sector. AR stormed into the scene with Pokémon Go. The game, which was released in 2016, won the undiluted attention of the masses, so much so that intriguing Facebook memes were attributed for it.
AR and VR Gaming services can be rendered through Arcade Gaming Centres or can be provided for home entertainment. These technologies, among its varied applications, are also used in the Escape Rooms concept, wherein people could spend a few hours in a haunted house or a battlefield (no worries, you won’t be harmed). Such escape avenues can now be found across India.
The signs are all blatant, AR/VR will change the way of our lives in ways we never anticipated before, making it easier and more proficient. Its rate of adoption is rapid, as is the case with all technological inventions. The use cases are an eye-opener on what the technology could offer, and remember – it’s cost-effective.