VR & AR

Forget Augmented and Virtual Reality, Genuine Reality is Making a Comeback

Futuristic smart glasses

The past 20 years of technological innovation have been defined by attempting to better reality

From holograms, 8K HDR TVs, flexible displays and digital profiling, advances have consisted of a mindset of ‘what exists isn’t good enough’ rather than ‘what we have can be used in a better way’. The former paradigm has led to space race-esque advancement of virtual and augmented reality.

These two innovations are based on the idea that what is seen and experienced in everyday life is not good enough for either the consumer of the modern business enterprise. Either a VR headset is needed to transport you into a new fantasy world that could only be dreamt – or a digitised computer-generated image reality is layered on top of the real world by images to alter what is real. For both, the message to people is the same. Reality must be improved upon as it is currently sub-par.

There are countless examples of companies adopting this mindset. From IKEA using augmented reality to Google, HTC, Oculus and Microsoft creating alternate worlds for people to interact with, the AR/VR movement is an undeniable force right now. However, this overlooks one fundamental resource: actual reality. Many have now deemed it to be outdated, but ‘the past’ is now making a comeback and showing its true value as being a resource of limitless business functionality. This shift has been empowered by the corporate tidal wave that is data analytics.

There is no denying that AR and VR have both quickly become a mainstream technology. They are functional, creative and the stuff of 1960s science fiction films. However, under the hood of almost every industry, data analytics has become one of the most revolutionary business resources of the 21st Century.

The use of data has now reached boiling point and is erupting in the same way that advertising did in the 50s and 60s. The data boom has been driven primarily by web 2.0 and online profiling and activity tracking. Now, technology has developed to allow the amalgamation of (offline) reality and data. This partnership of digital and manual is the natural passageway into helping enterprises realise that there is no need or social requirement to ‘taint’ the purity of the real world. Instead, the resources that are already available need to be utilised in ways that were previously impossible. It is for this reason that the marriage between real-world physical behaviour and data analytics is key to the future of all types of business.

Video analytics is a seldom-used term, however, its impact is game-changing. Picture this familiar scenario: a fashion retailer has a physical store on the high street and an online e-commerce website for the same product ranges. People enter the store to try on the products and browse the items that they are interested in, but the majority of people leave without buying anything at all. Often, when this is the case, those who do not buy are never registered as having existed in the company’s data understanding (apart from perhaps as a contributor to footfall).

The online store, on the other hand, sees more sales due to the convenient nature of the service. All data that is collected from the website automatically from cookies and tracking links are analysed and inputted into the online feedback loop, whether a person bought made a purchase or not. However, this feedback loop does not exist for the physical store. Detailed pre-purchase data simply hasn’t existed until now. This is the way that the industry has always worked and will always work, right…? Perhaps not, anymore…

Technology has now reached the stage where similar kinds of data can be collected from the physical store as already from online activity. Video analytics is the medium which enables this to happen. By having one or a set of analytics-enabled cameras in the store, data is collected from how people interact with the physical space around them. Once collected this is run through an artificial intelligence system that can identify, categorise and rank different behaviours. No annoying feedback forms upon checkout. No emails asking how people’s in-store experience was. Nothing. By utilising smart, analytics-enabled cameras, business intelligence data can be collected and used to inform an important business decision on a regular basis. This leads to a more intelligent model of operation and, quite simply, a more successful business.

One example of this new kind of system being used is for improved customer experience. By employing video analytics technology enterprises are better equipped to understand how customers utilise the physical space in their stores and interact with different stimuli that are presented to them. It is a well-supported consumer behaviour finding fact that customers look right when they walk into a store. That said, it might be true because it was believed and that made manifest by store design… Video analytics is taking this type of insight to a new, deeper level of detail and a solid factual basis. Utilising these technologies it is possible to know how long on average customers are spending in each area of the store, what they are interacting with and which features they overlook. This can inform business decisions on floor layout and improve how the customer feels about the store which is the golden egg of retail: For customers to have a positive emotional reaction to being in a store in a similar way to what Hollister and Apple have been able to achieve

The new-found value of genuine reality cannot be understated. Learning from the practice of tracking online behaviour, a customers’ physical journey through a store can now be translated into functional business intelligence data. It is rare for technology to advance while also being retrospective, but nonetheless, using video analytics to garner new business intelligence insights has achieved just that. Augmented and Virtual Reality have their place in the world, but to overlook genuine reality would be to disregard an unrivalled resource made possible by technology at the forefront of innovation.


About the Author

Forget Augmented and Virtual Reality, Genuine Reality is Making a Comeback TechNativeRichard Morgans is CMO at ONVU Technologies. ONVU Technologies is a privately held group, and through annual investment in R&D, talent acquisition and forming partnerships, its subsidiaries deliver video and data led technology solutions for global customers that enable them to make informed business choices across diverse market sectors

Forget Augmented and Virtual Reality, Genuine Reality is Making a Comeback TechNative

Want to attract Millennial shoppers? Try Augmented Reality.

Smart retail with augmented and virtual reality technology concept, Customer use ar and vr glasses to search a daily deal,hot promotion, find product, contact service center in the retail

It’s no secret that retailers are struggling

In the UK Debenhams has become the latest in a line of giants to go into administration. It is imperative that retailers manage to engage younger consumers (16-24 years), if they wish to avoid being left on the ever-growing high-street scrap heap. Augmented reality (AR) is an area of innovation that can yield exceptional results for retailers hoping to successfully appeal to Millennials and Generation Z, with its easy availability on mobile, instant engagement, and the effect of virality.

Having grown up in the mobile age, young consumers have a strong preference for mobile and respond positively to visual, easy-to-perceive information. They spend hours a day using multiple social networks and they love to share their experiences with friends and family as quickly as possible. They are also much more averse to long-term financial commitments than previous generations and most Millennials expect to try out or try on a product before deciding to pay for it.

Retailers need to target where Millennials consume most of their content and the majority of AR experiences are released on mobile. Camera-based apps powered with augmented reality offer high level of engagement, availability on mobile, and a consumer-centred concept that allows retailers to keep up with their buying decision mindset by providing them with the experiences that are not just useful and problem-solving, but way more fun too. Millennials are famed for sharing their lives with the world, so brands can take advantage by broadcasting their message through the social media accounts of their own consumers. All it takes is to create an AR feature worth using and an AR experience worth sharing.

However, using AR only for the sake of using AR won’t result in sales growth. It’s important to consider the entire customer shopping journey and think of how technology can empower the most crucial customer touchpoints, i.e. adding a virtual ‘try on’ experience to the website, app or in-store where the first or most important interaction with the brand happens. With millennials who shop, communicate and live online – retailers must focus their attention on the touchpoints that matter to this particular consumer type and think how technology can empower and enrich their shopping experience.

AR enables retailers’ customers to engage with their products without having to physically enter a shop. There is a surging popularity of AR applications that help users see how furniture will look in their homes, such as IKEA Place or Amazon’s AR View. Fashion retailers have also been quick to adopt AR with Gap’s Dressing Room, which helps users to find specific items and shows which suits them best. Burberry, took a slightly different approach, using augmented reality to let users digitally redecorate their surroundings with Burberry-inspired drawings and share the resulting picture with their friends on social media.

But AR isn’t just for online retailers, it can also help drive footfall to bricks & mortar stores. The advantage in-store shopping has over online is the ability to see, feel and experience the product. Brands can utilise AR to visualise products right on consumers, enhancing their in-store experience.

L’Oréal Paris has been making waves with their in-store virtual makeover tool, enabling users to test drive various products from lipstick to hair color before making the decision to buy. The feature works with still images or ‘live’ footage, making it all the more appealing to those who want to appreciate their new look in motion. Zara also recently launched an augmented reality store experience with models demonstrating the latest Zara looks as you point your phone at certain spots within the store.

Put all of this on top of inventive AR-assisted Snapchat ad campaigns, Facebook AR ads, and Instagram face filters, and it becomes obvious why AR has become one of the hottest marketing trends for retailers. It allows brands to win over a very demanding and elusive group of consumers by creating an entirely new way for them to interact, shop and discover products they’ll love.


About the Author

Want to attract Millennial shoppers? Try Augmented Reality. TechNativeDmitry Ogievich is CEO of Banuba, a computer vision startup specialising in augmented reality. Via its dynamic augmented reality (AR) SDK, Banuba’s technology enables mobile developers to create a range of innovative and futuristic applications which allow end-users to fully utilise their cameras, unlocking the future potential of their devices. Ogievich was previously Head of Mobile Solution Practice at global software engineering and IT consultancy, EPAM Systems, and has extensive experience as an engineer, architect and program delivery manager. Ogievich has managed projects with multidisciplinary and multinational teams, working on digital transformation with Fortune 500 companies in the energy, retail, bio-engineering and technological sectors. He has also been an adviser to start-ups in computer vision, AR and mobile entertainment.

Want to attract Millennial shoppers? Try Augmented Reality. TechNative

VR starts to prove its worth as a training tool

Portrait of young Caucasian female using augmented reality holographic hololens in modern office

Virtual reality (VR) promised to be a world-changing technology, but so far it hasn’t really lived up to the hype

Sales of VR headsets are underwhelming and investment in the technology is in decline.  One of the main challenges with VR adoption is encouraging digital sceptics, often in commissioning roles, to embrace the technology and avoid seeing it as a gimmick.

VR seems to be most effective when it is used to solve a particular problem or address a specific issue.  A report into VR adoption by Capgemini Research Institute reveals the businesses getting the most benefit from the technology are those who test the applicability of VR and focus on uses that provide lasting value, with 50% of companies still struggling to identify a use case.

But despite a subdued outlook we shouldn’t ignore some interesting VR use cases that are now beginning to emerge, particularly in the field of training, which the technology is well suited to.

Learning in a risk-free environment

One of the key benefits of VR in training is providing a realistic environment where trainees learn to use sophisticated tools, as well as deal with unexpected scenarios, without real risk. One example is Tyson Foods, which uses VR to train employees to safely use complex machinery, allowing them to practise and learn at their own pace before they ever enter the company’s physical plant.

VR is great at letting users ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’. This is especially beneficial in training. The Moment’s VR HCP Interaction Lab is helping medical sales teams to better understand the interactions between Healthcare Professionals and patients and is providing a step change in training delivery whilst Stanford University researchers are working with the NFL using VR making employees ‘feel’ how colleagues experience racial and sexual discrimination.

At Global we use a VR experience to deliver studio training to our radio presenters and producers. As well as providing studio inductions, the tech presents trainees with a series of real-life challenges – such as system failures, breaking news events and unplanned silences – so they can learn to react positively and quickly to keep the station live and on air. By using VR to create an environment where users can make mistakes and try again without real-life repercussions, we’ve seen operator errors in live broadcast decrease by a third.

Immersive and engaging experiences

Another key benefit of VR as a training tool is its ability to deliver immersive, interactive experiences. VR-based training is more engaging than listening to a talk, reading a manual or watching a video demonstration. Trainees who can explore virtual environments with their own eyes and (digital) hands are less likely to get bored and have a better chance of retaining what they’ve learnt. Memory recall with immersive VR training can be up to 300% higher than with traditional training.

Because VR training engages multiple senses and makes the user feel they are present in a particular situation, it can evoke an emotional reaction. The Marshall School of Business uses a VR training program to help students explore unconscious bias by simulating a recruitment process and allowing them to experience the impact of bias for themselves. The immersive nature of the exercise means students are emotionally engaged in the experience, without the difficulties involved in discussing unconscious bias with a real person.

Practical and productive education

VR-based training is highly efficient as it removes the costs of traditional training such as venue hire, travel, consultant fees, or simply time spent away from work. Sessions can be delivered remotely by mentors or using software housed within a shared platform.

The technology is also a practical way to overcome other barriers associated with traditional training. Dr Shafi Ahmed, a surgeon at St Bartholomew’s hospital, uses VR to live stream surgical procedures with a 360 degree perspective. This allows him to personally train surgeons all around the world during real procedures without the challenges associated with physically having them in the operating theatre with him.

VR is increasingly being used to train military personnel in the use of equipment such as submarines, aircraft, and naval ships which aren’t readily available or accessible for on-the-job training. Finally, the visual and practical nature of VR training helps to overcome language barriers, and makes it suitable for individuals with different learning styles.

While VR might not be taking off in the way it was expected to, these use cases illustrate the technology has found a real purpose in training. By allowing trainees to learn and make mistakes in a realistic yet risk-free environment, by providing memorable, immersive experiences that evoke emotion, and by overcoming the practical barriers associated with traditional education, VR is beginning to prove its worth as a valuable training tool. Moreover, advancements in wireless headsets together with falling hardware costs should lead to wider adoption.


About the Author

VR starts to prove its worth as a training tool TechNative David Henderson is Chief Technology Officer at Global. Home to some of the UK’s best-loved radio stations such as Heart, Capital and Classic FM, to name a few, we keep 25.2 million listeners tuned in and entertained each week. And that’s just for starters; we’re one of the leading Outdoor advertising companies in the UK, having recently acquired Primesight and Outdoor plus. With over 35,000 sites covering 95% of the UK population, Global Outdoor packs a punch!

VR starts to prove its worth as a training tool TechNative

Mixed Reality and the Future of Healthcare

Female Doctor with futuristic hud screen tablet.  Bacteria, virus, microbe. Medical concept of the future

The healthcare field is constantly being changed by new drugs, new studies, and new therapies

However, the field often lags when it comes to adopting new technology, and even making the seemingly straightforward move to electronic records has proven to be a lengthy process. Still, new technology not created exclusively for medicine is coming, and mixed reality devices in particular are becoming a reality for many medical professionals and healthcare centers.

Mixed reality combines virtual reality elements with human vision. Head-mounted devices use clear screens to give users an unobstructed view, but various technologies can be used to project images onto the screen. For doctors, MR provides a means of viewing images and data far more convenient than charts or screens. Furthermore, MR can provide new ways of interacting with patients by projecting information onto medical charts or even directly on the patient. As medical schools and other organizations continue to explore MR, experts will devise novel uses for MR technology.

Among all the MR devices coming to market, the one that’s garnered the most attention is the HoloLens from Microsoft. The head-mounted device is more bulky than Google Glass but it offers far greater capabilities by using holograms to create realistic images. HoloLens is also more aware of what the user is seeing, and this greater flexibility provides a host of new use cases traditional AR technology can’t match. HoloLens headsets aren’t cheap, as they currently have a price tag above $3,000, but their cost is relatively low compared to many common medical devices and no doubt cheaper headsets will come to the market in the coming years.

Having an intimate knowledge of human anatomy is crucial for medical students. While charts and interactive computer programs can be valuable tools, medical students often work with cadavers. With MR, students can receive a similarly detailed experience at any time. Furthermore, MR technology can let students zoom in on particular segments, providing a way to explore that’s impractical with a cadaver. Already, medical schools are looking to turn to MR as a primary means of educating future doctors.

Instant Access to Information

Hospitals and medical clinics are becoming more connected, and sensors are ubiquitous in modern medicine. However, doctors still often rely on older technologies when interacting with patients, and many end up reading paper charts to get an overview of a patient’s condition. MR headsets can detect patients and instantly providing relevant medical information to doctors, saving time during interactions and allowing doctors to more quickly respond to emergencies. Simply being able to see a patient’s vital signs without having to read screens or pull out paperwork can save valuable time and allow for more convenient patient interactions.

We recently spoke to Sirko Pelzl,  the CEO at apoQlar, creators of an MRI rendering app for HoloLens

For budding surgeons, being able to view a surgery is essential, as no amount of reading or studying can replace seeing surgeons in action. However, finding time to observe a surgery in progress can be difficult, as space is limited. With MR technology, surgeons can stream their actions live, greatly expanding their audience. Furthermore, surgeries can be recorded routinely, with surgeons saving those that were noteworthy in some way. Surgeons share their techniques with each other, and their experience helps hone the art. With routine recording, surgeons will be better able to collaborate and develop new techniques.

Better Imaging

The benefits of MR extend into offices. Professionals often view medical scans on computer screens and use a mouse and keyboard to manipulate the image and zoom in on certain areas. MR technology can track where a user is looking and respond to gestures, providing a more natural way to analyze an image. Furthermore, many modern imaging processes create 3D images. Through MR, users can visualize depth in a seamless manner. Even more mundane tasks can be aided by MR technology. Loading and modifying electronic medical records can be a somewhat cumbersome process, but new means of interacting enabled by MR can save time.

Mixed Reality and the Future of Healthcare TechNative
©Wladimir1804

CT scans are often a significant source of distress for patients, as the noise and enclosed nature of machines can lead to claustrophobia. Through MR and other technologies, medical experts can provide a simulation to help patients know what to expect. Furthermore, MR, along with AR and VR, can be used to help patients relax or distract themselves while being scanned. Simple being able to watch a movie or play a simple game can help patients pass the time and remain still while lengthy scans are underway. These benefits can improve overall medical treatment, as patients sometimes skip medical sessions and may decline helpful tests or therapies due to discomfort. Improving compliance is a powerful tool for improving patient outcomes.

Streamlining Care

Receptionists, nurses, doctors, and other professionals need to coordinate with each other in hospitals and clinics. Working as a team can be a challenge, and professionals often rely on multiple devices for communication and recalling charts and other data. By standardizing on mixed reality devices, health centers can provide a seamless means of communication and ensure everyone can send and receive notes instantly. Furthermore, MR devices can record and share voice communication, making it quicker and easier to send voice notes that can be heard between visits to patients. With MR technologies, health centers can allow healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients.

Many modern VR and mixed reality devices have a battery life of approximately three to four hours, so doctors would likely need to swap batteries or devices during long shifts. However, this problem will no doubt improve significantly in the future, and the technology will become far cheaper over time. Regardless of the limitations, however, MR is already is use around the world for a range of medical tasks. As medical professionals become more familiar with the technology, patients can expect to see headsets in hospitals and clinics on a regular basis in the near future.

Mixed Reality and the Future of Healthcare TechNative

AR & VR: New Study Offers a 360 View on Immersive Technologies

Woman wearing augmented reality goggles.

A new report has offered insight into how enterprises are embracing virtual reality and augmented reality

The “Augmented and Virtual Reality in Operations: A guide for investment” study, released by Capgemini Research Institute, surveyed more than 700 executives familiar with their companies’ VR and AR efforts in the manufacturing, automotive, and utilities sectors. It found that 50 percent of organizations not currently implementing VR and AR are planning on exploring their options within the next three years. Initiatives cited include using VR to help train employees and using AR, combined with handheld or wearable devices, to provide real-time access to experts.

AR & VR: New Study Offers a 360 View on Immersive Technologies TechNative
©Capgemini

Although the survey revealed interest in both VR and AR, organizations believe AR will be the more beneficial technology, despite its increased complexity. AR can generated a more streamlined workflow, according to those surveyed, with respondents pointing to examples including Porsche’s use of AR glasses that provide both detailed diagrams and step-by-step instructions. Furthermore, experts at Porsche can see what their technicians are looking at, enabling remote expertise to aid in an array of tasks. According to Porsche, these advances can reduce service time by up to 40 percent. Companies are also bringing AR solutions online at a faster rate; 45 percent of companies interested in AR are already deploying the technology, compared to 36 percent of companies aiming to implement VR.

Repair, Design, Assembly Line

Although VR and AR technologies are expected to be used throughout a wide range of fields, some areas are already seeing high levels of implementation. According to the survey, 31 percent of companies are using VR or AR to consult digital reference materials. Thirty percent are using it to connect users with remote experts, and 30 percent are using it to view components digitally. Twenty-nine percent are using it to superimpose step-by-step instructions on workstations. Between 26 and 28 percent of companies are using VR or AR for design and assembly tasks including overlaying design components onto existing modules, visualizing infrastructure from various angles, and simulating product performance in extreme conditions. Safety is a goal of VR and AR as well, with the report citing Ford’s use of VR to capture body motion sensors to improve operations, leading to a 90 percent drop in ergonomic problems and a 70 percent reduction in injuries during assembly.

AR & VR: New Study Offers a 360 View on Immersive Technologies TechNative
©Capgemini

The report outlined four factors common among the top 16 percent of VR and AR adopters. To replicate the success of these early achievers, the report suggests companies provide a centralized governance model to increase VR and AR awareness. Companies also should invest in agile, in-house teams of experts to better craft and implement solutions. Finding the right use cases was critical, and companies can improve their adoption rates by focusing on the most valuable uses of VR and AR and supporting employees during the adoption phase.

Finally, companies need to invest in infrastructure capable of handling VR and AR technologies, as older systems might lack the flexibility and robustness required for a successful roll-out. It should be noted that VR and AR adoption varies geographically, with more than 50 percent of surveyed companies in the United States and China already rolling out VR and AR initiatives. In the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Nordic countries, more that 50 percent of companies are still in the experimental phase.

AR & VR: New Study Offers a 360 View on Immersive Technologies TechNative

Could VR & AR be making its way into the office?

Multiethnic Business team using virtual reality headset

Virtual reality and augmented reality provide experiences impossible with typical computers and smart devices, and their falling cost means they’re going to become prevalent in the coming years

Although games and educational tools will prove to be major parts of VR and AR, the business field stands to benefit as well, and offices in the future might look very different than those of today. Here are some of the ways VR and AR technology could find its way into corporate environments in the coming years.

Employee Training

Although videos can provide useful information when training employees, hands-on training, sometimes extensive, is needed in many fields. Because training typically involves paid trainers, the process represents a major component of onboarding new employees. Interactive VR and AR applications provide employees with interactive experiences similar to those of personal training, and training programs can reduce the cost of getting employees up and running. Some human interaction will still be needed in most cases, but the one-time cost of developing a training program will be well worth the investment.

Virtual Desktops

Despite how much workers rely on computers and other digital devices, the office desk is still difficult to replace, as the large size of desks provides ample storage space for documents and other items. Augmented and even virtual reality can provide a similar experience by offering a larger field of view than monitors can provide. Furthermore, the visual depth VR and AR simulate can help people identify items at a glance. Soon, the office desk might be more of a hollographic concept than a physical one.

New Marketing Tools

Pictures and text go far when selling products, but nothing can be the in-person experience. VR and AR, however, might be able to come close. Letting potential buyers see and interact with a realistic simulation of products should prove to be a powerful selling point, and companies able to capitalize on this technology can gain an edge. Furthermore, virtual reality platforms that allow competitors to present virtual interfaces can become popular advertising platforms in the future.

Virtual Communication

Telecommuting is already gaining momentum, as the convenience and reduced cost make it compelling. While video teleconferences work in many situations, they don’t quite match the appeal of in-person meetings. VR can provide a more lifelike experience, potentially letting companies cut back on expensive travel for in-person meetings. Morning huddles and other mainstays of business might be replaceable as VR advances.

Augmented Employees

Employees, especially those who interact with clients and customers, need information as quickly as possible, as delays in retrieving information can be frustrating. Augmented reality can provide an easy interface for employees to retrieve information at a glance, whether they’re in the office or away. One example of how AR can change employee interaction comes in automatic translation tools, which can enable employees to talk with those who speak languages in a seamless manner.

Virtual reality and augmented reality aren’t new concepts, but technology is finally catching up and making it a reality. While predicting what VR and AR will create in the future is impossible, there’s no doubt it’s going to play a significant role in many business fields.

Could VR & AR be making its way into the office? TechNative

Holographic computing takes the spotlight as the user interface of choice

Medical technology concept. Electronic medical record.

Everyone takes notice when Apple CEO Tim Cook makes a prediction

During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts, he said, “AR is going to change everything.” He was not exaggerating.

Augmented reality (AR) is re-shaping our use of technology. , Consider how quickly we have moved from typing on PC keyboards, to the smartphone’s tap and swipe and on to simply using voice commands to ask Alexa or Siri to answer our questions and help us get things done. Now AR brings us to the age of holographic computing, providing a captivating, futuristic user interface alongside animojies, Pokémon and face filters.

Whereas textbook holography is generated by lasers, holographic computing is coming to us now through our the mobile devices in the palm of our hands. As a result, we are now witnessing a surge in the use of hologram-like 3D – and to Cook’s point, it will completely change how we interact with businesses and each other.

The evidence is everywhere. The release of Apple’s iOS11 puts AR into the hands of over 400 million consumers. The new iPhoneX is purposely designed to deliver enhanced AR experiences with 3D cameras and “Bionic” processors. Google, meanwhile recently launched the Poly platform for finding and distributing virtual and augmented reality objects, while Amazon released Sumerian to facilitate creation of realistic virtual environments in the cloud. We are also in the midst of an AR-native content creation movement, with a steady stream of AR features coming from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and other tech players.

The instantly engaging user experiences of 3D are obviously attractive for gaming and entertainment, but are capable of so much more, particularly in the training and customer-experience sectors where the technology is already making substantial in-roads.

In training, holography is useful for virtual hands-on guidance to explain a process, complete a form or orient a user. It also can effectively simulate real-life scenarios such as sales interactions or emergencies.

Holographic computing interfaces add new dimensions to traditional instruction methods. AR enhancements can be overlaid for greater depth and variety in information presentation, such as floating text bubbles to provide detail about a particular physical object. They can generate chronological procedure-mapping for performing a task, or virtual arrows pointing to the correct button to push on a console.

There are countless opportunities for adding more digital information to almost anything within range of a phone camera. Why should staff travel to a classroom if an interactive, immersive 3D presentation can be launched on any desk, wall, or floor and “experienced” through the screen in the user’s hand? And unlike passively watching video, holographic interfaces add an extra experiential element to the training process. As a result, users can more readily contextualise what they are learning.

In customer experience, consumers are using AR and holographic computing for self-selection, self-service, and self-help. And it will not be long before the range of uses expands. IKEA’s AR app, for example, lets a customer point a phone at their dining room to see how a new table will look in the space. Taking this further, it should be possible to point the phone at the delivery box in order to be holographically guided through the assembly process when the table is delivered.

Holographic computing will also emerge as the preferred means for obtaining product information and interacting with service agents. Walk-throughs of hotel rooms and holiday destinations with a 3D virtual tour guide, travel planner or salesperson are also not too far away.

There are other appealing use cases, of course. And as adoption and implementation spread, there will be many instances where this new user interface is preferable and will quickly become standard.

Along with the Apples, Googles and Facebooks of this world, there are a number of new entrants to the AR arena. The sheer amount of money being thrown at speedy development shows that the ultimate nature of the holographic user interface is up for grabs. Will it remain phone-based or involve glasses? Will it shift to desktop or evolve beyond our current hardware, to be integrated into on-eye projection technology? Or will it be all of the above – who can say?

The one certainty is that significant brain-power is being invested by companies of all types in the development and application of this emerging technology. The increased dispersal of AR experiences in all their incarnations, combined with the mounting accessibility afforded by our smartphones, will drive mass-adoption and widespread affinity for the holographic interface.


About The Author

Holographic computing takes the spotlight as the user interface of choice TechNativeSimon Wright is Director of AR and VR at Genesys. Genesys, the world’s #1 Customer Experience Platform, empowers companies to create exceptional omnichannel experiences, journeys and relationships. For over 25 years, we have put the customer at the center of all we do, and we passionately believe that great customer engagement drives great business outcomes

Holographic computing takes the spotlight as the user interface of choice TechNative

Why Brands are Turning to Augmented Reality

girl in black paint and neon powder

Mixed reality is opening up a new world of opportunity for marketers

Ever since the emergence of modern virtual reality, experts have been predicting a sharp spike in advertisers and brands taking advantage of virtual reality technology, with augmented reality expected to play a major role. Only recently, however, has the technology enabled advertisers to begin exploring what is a truly novel means of showcasing products.

Personal Virtual Augmentation

As anyone who has seen makeover shows knows, a bit of makeup or style can go a long way. Encouraging customers to try out various ideas, however, has long proven difficult. Through augmented reality, stores can give customers virtual makeovers in mere seconds and with only a few taps. Companies are already exploring this option, and customers will soon be able to try out lipstick, false eyelashes, and other cosmetics without having to spend time manually applying them. Tony Parisi of Unity3D gives us a few examples of brand experiences using VR below.

Street-Level Augmented Reality

Street-level advertising is popular in population centers, and some companies already use interactive displays. Pepsi has been a pioneer in this field, having used augmented reality in it’s Unbelievable Bus Shelter last year, which featured alien abductions, meteor strikes and tiger attacks which was effective as capture attention from passers by.

In doing so they proved augmented reality doesn’t necessarily have to be strictly related to a specific product being sold, as increasing attention on a brand can lead to higher sales.

Home Products

Furniture is practical, but most people are also concerned with how a piece of furniture will look in their homes. Through it’s augmented reality Ikea Place app, everyone’s favourite furniture company is now allowing customers to try out various options through their smartphone screen, showing how the product will look in the room. Buyers are often concerned with whether a piece will fit in their space, and they want to ensure furniture they purchase isn’t too large or small aesthetically for their rooms.

Augmented reality lets customers try out various options to find the perfect fit. Integrating this technology with social media also encourages customers to effectively advertise Ikea’s products to their online contacts.

Virtual Sales Agents

Sales agents serve as valuable educators for store products. However, sales agents can be expensive to employ, and some customers prefer to avoid interacting with sales agents. Through augmented reality, stores can provide in-depth information for to visitors using smartphones, providing the facts customers need to make an informed decision. Databases can store more information than any sales agent can memorize, making them powerful tools for customers looking for specific features. Chain stores can also load information about stock in nearby stores, increasing the odds of landing a sale.

According to Parisi (below), with all these marketing uses AR has the potential to become even more popular than fully immersive virtual reality.

Augmenting Live Performances

Movie theaters and live venues are facing increased competition from high-quality and affordable home theaters and interactive entertainment. As the trend away from traveling for entertainment seems all but inevitable, theaters and live venues are looking to adopt new technology instead of fighting it. Visitors with smartphones can enjoy an enhanced experience using augmented reality, and virtual reality itself is finding its way into more traditional media. This technology is still new, but various entertainment venues are sure to embrace it in the coming years to remain competitive.

Augmented reality presents an array of new options, and it’s not yet clear which will fade away and which will remain. Regardless of how this new technology shapes up, consumers can expect new and interesting ideas to continue emerging over the coming years.

Why Brands are Turning to Augmented Reality TechNative

Five ways VR & mixed reality are set to transform how we do business

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The benefits of VR & AR go way beyond entertainment

Virtual reality and augmented reality provide experiences impossible with typical computers and smart devices, and their falling cost means they’re going to become prevalent in the coming years. Although games and educational tools will prove to be major parts of VR and AR, the business field stands to benefit as well, and offices in the future might look very different than those of today. Here are some of the ways VR and AR technology will find its way into commercial operations in the coming years.

Employee Training

Although videos can provide useful information when training employees, hands-on training, sometimes extensive, is needed in many fields. Because training typically involves paid trainers, the process represents a major component of onboarding new employees. Interactive VR and AR applications provide employees with interactive experiences similar to those of personal training, and training programs can reduce the cost of getting employees up and running. Some human interaction will still be needed in most cases, but the one-time cost of developing a training program will be well worth the investment.

Virtual Desktops

Despite how much workers rely on computers and other digital devices, the office desk is still difficult to replace, as the large size of desks provides ample storage space for documents and other items. Augmented and even virtual reality can provide a similar experience by offering a larger field of view than monitors can provide. Furthermore, the visual depth VR and AR simulate can help people identify items at a glance. Soon, the office desk might be more of a virtual concept than a physical one.

New Marketing Tools

Pictures and text go far when selling products, but nothing can be the in-person experience. VR and AR, however, might be able to come close. Letting potential buyers see and interact with a realistic simulation of products should prove to be a powerful selling point, and companies able to capitalize on this technology can gain an edge. Furthermore, virtual reality platforms that allow competitors to present virtual interfaces can become popular advertising platforms in the future.

Virtual Communication

Telecommuting is already gaining momentum, as the convenience and reduced cost make it compelling. While video teleconferences work in many situations, they don’t quite match the appeal of in-person meetings. VR can provide a more lifelike experience, potentially letting companies cut back on expensive travel for in-person meetings. Morning huddles and other mainstays of business might be replaceable as VR advances.

Augmented Employees

Employees, especially those who interact with clients and customers, need information as quickly as possible, as delays in retrieving information can be frustrating. Augmented reality can provide an easy interface for employees to retrieve information at a glance, whether they’re in the office or away. One example of how AR can change employee interaction comes in automatic translation tools, which can enable employees to talk with those who speak languages in a seamless manner.

Virtual reality and augmented reality aren’t new concepts, but technology is finally catching up and making it a reality. While predicting what VR and AR will create in the future is impossible, there’s no doubt it’s going to play a significant role in many business fields.

Five ways VR & mixed reality are set to transform how we do business TechNative

Why Europe’s augmented reality players must join forces to compete globally

Men playing virtual reality with hololens

International working group to boost Europe in AR

Spending on Augmented Reality technologies will reach $60 billion in 2020 according to Michael Porter and James E. Heppelmann in their Guide to AR in the Harvard Business Review. This represents a lucrative market, as Europe has many strengths in research, engineering, training, and creativity that will allow it to play an active role in the global rise of this technology. But doing so will require an open ecosystem where new trail-blazing services can be developed.

An Industry Specification Group with b<>com, Fraunhofer HHI, the CEA and Institut Mines Telecom as founding members was launched at ETSI last December to define an interoperability framework for augmented reality applications. Industrials are starting to join the effort with Siemens as a new member and actors like Bosch, Technicolor and Orange contributing to the discussions while considering joining. The focus on interoperability will benefit both technology providers and end-users.

b<>com CEO Bertrand Guilbaud believes the European market “boasts a diverse range of skills and know-how”.

These are nascent industries, so the industrial ecosystems are not yet in place. Now is the time for us to build them in order to unleash the potential in all fields of work and enable the birth of a strong European industry. ”We must facilitate market access for European technology suppliers to enable them to compete globally and take full advantage of this sector.

Augmented reality (AR) is the ability to mix spatially calibrated digital content with the real world, in real time. Automotive, media, telecom, health care and retail: There are few industries that aren’t exploring the technology. And partnerships between businesses and tech suppliers are proliferating. The latest example in France is Hôpital Avicenne in Bobigny, which hosted of one of the first surgical procedures carried out via Microsoft’s HoloLens and TeraRecon’s Holoporta mixed-reality collaborative platform.

b<>com is a European research institute with over 230 researchers who develop tools, products, and services that aim to make everyday life easier. They chair ETSI’s industrial specifications group, the ISG ARF. It acts as a European standards body, developing world class standards for global use, specifically in augmented reality technologies. “Participating in the global structuring of new industrial ecosystems in digital sectors is one of b<>com’s most important missions,” adds Guilbaud.

Collaboration on technology projects between Europe’s leaders in the field like the Fraunhofer institutes and France’s CEA, allows us to compete with the largest players either directly or indirectly, and thereby develop a European economy.

b<>com will be exhibiting at Mobile World Congress next month

Why Europe's augmented reality players must join forces to compete globally TechNative
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