VR and AR for beginners

#Communicating #VR #AR VR and AR for beginners

The total net worth of VR and AR market in 2022 is going to be 209 billion dollars*–forecasts say. This would be a gigantic leap, considering that in 2017 it was a mere 14 billion. We can assume that now is the right time to think about using AR or VR in your next awesome and innovative venture.

The concepts of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can be easily confused. Before going any further, let's get a bit more familiar with them. Augmenting reality basically means adding stuff to what we see. Expanding the world we perceive with some extra 3d elements, information, and interfaces. VR, on the other hand, takes us to a completely new dimension. It can cut us away from reality and transform into a world of our choice. Tropical beach? Horror story? Mars? Panda's digestive system? Name it. So which direction is better for your next project?

Availability of AR vs VR.

It might seem that the main difference between VR and AR is how much they alter our world. But there's more to it. The technology accessibility has a great impact on possible applications. Then, there are hardware requirements. Let's start with the accessibility for the average user.

If we want to dive into a VR world created from scratch, we need some equipment. Currently (end of 2018) in Poland, cost of a PC along with one of the popular headsets (Vive or Oculus) is about €2500.

AR, on the other hand, needs a bit fewer resources. At least in it's popular, mobile device form. It does not need to create a full 360 environment, dynamic lighting or other memory-consuming stuff. It just adds new elements to the existing world (or modifies existing ones). The most popular devices for viewing AR content are a smartphone or tablet. This enables us to speak of this technology as quite accessible to an average user.

On top of mobile devices, we also have slightly more specialized AR equipment like Hololens or Magic Leap. But let's not delve into the differences between them here - this is a topic for a separate article.

ARkit and ARcore - finding your way around.

So it would seem that almost each of us can be a recipient and co-creator of augmented reality. All you need is a smartphone. Cool! What's worth mentioning–phones with Android 7 and iPhones from 6S upward are the best choice for AR viewing. And it's not just about stronger hardware. Both IOS 11 + and Android 7 + are natively equipped AR libraries. It means that your phone can actually use its camera to analyze and recognize 3d space. It can also run some light analysis–so any objects added in AR would be lit by the sun that shines through your windows. Now, how can you monetize this technology that lies right under your clients' fingertips?

7 examples of AR application in business and entertainment

  1. Ikea places will recognize your floor, walls, and furniture. It'll allow you to select a product from their wide offer and put it right on your floor. And as soon as you love it–it'll also let you buy it!

  2. In 2017 Amazon introduced the AR view for some of their products. So check how your new coffee machine is going to look placed on your kitchen counter. And buy it right after.

  3. Tylko.com is a Polish furniture manufacturer offering an AR application combined with a neat and simple configurator. Love it.

  4. Bosch service decided to use AR to optimize their work efficiency. The employee looking at the element sees all the information needed for its correct installation in the customer's car. Really saves time on browsing the documentation.

  5. Hyundai developed a fully AR-based car manual. Just point your smartphone camera on any car element–you'll get a description as an AR interface. Another cool fact: in 2015 they presented a heads-up display system that uses the augmented reality.

  6. Skanska, a world-renowned developer, was the first one to introduce a 1:1 scale visualizations on the building. They used Microsoft Hololens and Visual Live software.

  7. In 2018 Porsche released a mobile application allowing you to view their electric concept car. I admit—Porsche Mission E looked so good on my driveway.

VR - create your own world

Sometimes expanding our reality is not good enough. Say we want to go to a yet-to-be-built apartment and make it our dream house. Or we just need some time alone on a tropical beach before going back to answering emails. That's where VR comes in. It has its downsides of course. It's equipment requirements would drastically limit your audience. But wisely used, it can bring you much good. For instance - allowing customers visiting your sales offices to play in VR is a good way of making them remember you, rather than your competition. There's more to it. Giving your clients something playful and cool will make them talk about you to your friends. This is the best commercial, isn't it?

Immersion - feel being there.

What is VR all about? In a nutshell—it's about cheating our senses. Wearing headsets and headphones, you cheat your eyes and hear. It's enough to have fun for now, but technology is constantly developing. We can expect more to come. Probably the next widely-cheated sense would be touch. UltraHaptics technology uses ultrasounds to create a feeling of touch in the fingertips. The KAT Walks device (something like a treadmill on steroids) allows you to walk in any direction, at any distance. Knowing all that and realizing that it's only a very beginning of VR development gives me thrills. Just imagine how our human-machine interaction will look like in 5 years!

But let's get down to earth. What can VR accessibility mean to your business?

7 examples of using VR in business, education, and medicine

  1. Phobia treatment. The virtual world does not always have to be pleasant. Psychologists use VR to treat various types of anxieties. From arachnophobia to the fear of flying.

  2. A virtual walk around the property. Both VR (a three-dimensional space where you can move freely) and 360 panoramas. Those will tell your customers a lot more about real estate than static photos.

  3. Training of drilling platforms employees. Thanks to VR, people going to work in remote places and can train their skills before leaving their homeland.

  4. Entertainment. No comment needed here I think. Shooting aliens on Friday evening is undisputedly cool.

  5. Design process: Drawing in VR is one thing. Another thing is real-time creation of a concept car model. Cooperating with your colleagues from around the globe. Much more efficient than clay modeling.

  6. Car sales: Swedish branch of Volkswagen introduced a VR configurator in their dealerships. A few years earlier Audi did the same in Germany. Both projects are in line with the trend of moving away from large showrooms. Great amounts of stock cars always come with the risk of having difficulties selling all of them.

  7. Communication - Several years ago Facebook has launched Spaces application. You can use it to virtually meet friends. They would appear as animated avatars (pretty accurate avatars thanks to face tracking). Inviting a bunch of friends from all over the globe and spending Saturday evening together on a tropical beach? Count me in!

You know what's best for you.

Is it possible to compare VR and AR? Are we able to tell which is better? I don't think so to be honest. Each of those technologies has its own capabilities and own applications.

On the second thought though–is it the right question to ask at all? Let us note, that the distinction between AR and VR is somehow artificial. It's forced by technology imperfections. On one hand, we have a VR which is immobile because the equipment weighs too much. Then we have AR that can be viewed on devices that could theoretically be used for VR as well (cardboard). But currently, those devices have way too little computing power.

So the real question is: are we going to be surprised by upcoming hardware releases? Is there going to be a widely accessible device that will be both portable and powerful enough to make our dreams come true? Time will tell.

But per personally–I'm sure it will happen faster than we think.

*Source: Statista

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Bartosz Przybylski
Head of AR/VR
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