What is augmented reality and virtual reality?
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are computer technologies that have been gaining prominence over the last few years with breakthrough developments in engineering. AR technology takes real-world environments and ‘augments’ them with digital content that is superimposed over the user’s point of view. On the other hand, VR is experienced using a virtual reality headset that generates realistic images and sounds and is often used in conjunction with peripheral devices that provide haptic feedback that enables users to perceive engineered experiences.
This article talks about the value these technologies can provide to your business and some trends to look out for in applications that utilize the power of augmented and virtual reality.
Using AR to visualize objects
Ikea recently released a new mobile app called IKEA Place, which features a catalog of over 2000 products sold by the furniture store. Users can select items from the catalog and use the phone’s camera to place them in a room, and the item scales in size to determine whether it would fit in the given space. This is made possible using ARKit, which is Apple’s development framework for building augmented reality applications on devices running iOS.
It is easy to see how augmented reality can be used by consumers on e-commerce platforms to try out products before purchasing them. Wouldn’t you want to avoid an extra trip to a store if the technology existed to overlay a pair of spectacles on your face or a pair of jeans on your body?
Companies working with design-heavy products like car manufacturers and other mechanical jobs can benefit from using AR to aid in the design process. Designing on a flat screen has some constraints that can be removed by AR applications that allow your employees to visualize objects in 3D.
Businesses can also take advantage of AR technology to visualize prospective layouts for their offices given the number of employees they need to accommodate and space constraints for the same.
Enabling remote work using VR
Remote work is increasingly being seen as a valuable benefit to employees since it gives them flexibility and takes away the hassle of long commutes to work. The number of employees working remotely could see a boost with developments in the virtual reality space since it can take away the need for employees to be present in a centralized office location.
These days, even companies that have a ‘work from home’ policy sometimes require employees to be present at the office for important meetings. With VR, employees can tune into meetings from different locations but feel like they are in the same room since they can share the same digital space.
In addition to facilitating group meetings, virtual reality could also be used to collaborate with coworkers on specific tasks without being in the same physical location. This enables companies to hire employees from across the globe, unrestricted by geography. This, in turn, increases the sample pool of applicants, which means that there is a large supply of candidates for jobs in a variety of sectors.
Disrupting the event-going experience
One of the most exciting transformations that VR is slated to bring about is the reduction of effort to experience events in different locations. For example, a VR headset can allow you to attend a conference in a different city without spending time and money on traveling. In addition to removing the hassle of traveling to the location of the event, virtual reality also makes it happen, so there is no restriction on the number of attendees.
For consumers, there is a massive market for enjoying music concerts and popular sports events through virtual reality. This can drive down prices for prime seats since the ‘front-row’ experience is available to a larger number of people virtually. This is one of the markets opened up by VR that companies can develop products for.
More effective training programs
Large companies can utilize VR to organize training sessions for their employees. Since the number of attendees isn’t a bottleneck in virtual reality, these training sessions can accommodate more employees and be scaled throughout the organization.
As we have seen, augmented and virtual reality are emerging technologies that have the potential to ease various processes at companies and disrupt a large number of consumer markets. Companies can invest in developing applications involving AR and VR to compete at the frontline of technological innovation.
Embracing cutting-edge technology to contribute to employee benefits like remote work and training programs can make companies more desirable places to work. AR and VR can make processes like designing office spaces more efficient and provide tools to accurately visualize products in the design phase.
The above-mentioned uses just scratch the surface of the benefits augmented and virtual reality can offer to companies and consumers. These technologies are still in their nascent phase and have a long way to go before they become central to how businesses are run.