Virtual reality

Last summer, streets, public parks and living quarters were invaded by an unprecedented wave of people running around with their smartphones. The reason behind this collective craze was a new game: Pokémon Go. The goal of the game was simple as it was to catch virtual creatures while strolling around in the real physical world using one’s smartphone. The success was such that in only a few weeks, tens of millions of users were addicted to this new virtual reality experience.

Pokémon Go is only one example among many illustrating the takeoff of virtual reality as a key digital trend. Leading technology firms such as Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung are all bringing to the masses products making it possible to blur the limits between the virtual and the physical world.

Digital leaders in all industries have taken notice but are struggling when trying to launch initiatives to profit from this trend in areas as diverse as digital marketing or process optimization.

Defining Virtual Reality

Three aspects must be considered when defining virtual reality: the mode, the devices and the content.

Mode

The type of experience will drive the choice of the appropriate device and technology.

  • Virtual Reality (VR) refers to the experience that completely immerse the user in a real or imagined world and allow him to interact with that world.

    Vi

  • Augmented Reality (AR) is when the experience expands the live view of a real-world environment with sound, video or graphics from the virtual world.

    Augmented Reality

  • Mixed Reality (MR) refers to technologies that merge real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.

    Mixed Reality

Devices

The type of experience will drive the choice of the appropriate device and technology.

  • Headsets let users attain the most immersive virtual experiences. These devices, that look like oversized ski goggles covers the entire field of vision and contain a screen placed In front of the eyes. Motion sensors placed on the device ensure that the image that is displayed is synchronized to the user’s movements. In addition to the sight, VR headset are often complemented with headphones and hand-held controllers to allow further interactions. Many headsets are currently on the market ranging from the inexpensive solutions like the Google Cardboard solution (15 USD!) requiring the user to use its own smartphone as screen in the headset to the high-end Oculus Rift product with a more advanced and immersive experience or the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality system.
  • Laptops, smartphones or cameras:  Smartphones or laptops with webcams are devices that are very well suited for AR scenarios. Advanced algorithms can analyze and augment the video acquired by the camera in real time and display the result on the screen. Pokémon Go is an example of game leveraging such techniques.

Content

The type of experience and device determine what kind of content can be used ranging from passive to active mediums.

  • Spherical videos also known as 360-videos let the user watch a video while being able to look it any direction at any point in time. Such videos are shot requiring special equipment.  

  • Animations are purpose driven content letting the user discover or interact with specific computer-generated models.

  • Games are the most active and engaging content types in the VR world often involving sounds and movement in addition the virtual imaging.

Applications in the industry

As alluded when defining VR, there are endless usages the technologies. These three examples highlight real applications that are transforming how businesses are run.

ManufacturingManufacturing

Companies manufacturing goods spend yearly tremendous resources to train their staff to perform new operations. Learning experiences typically involve time spent in classrooms to study theoretical aspects and on-the-job trainings for the practical knowledge.

Companies embracing virtual reality are changing how they train their staff. They let them get more accurate and insightful trainings by being immersed in virtual world demonstrating the new operation they must learn to perform and let them repeat it as often as needed.

HealthHealth

Before performing complex operations, surgeons prepare their intervention by reviewing anatomical particularities of the patient. Virtual reality now let the surgeon explore in 3D data that has been acquired by MRIs or other medical equipment. This new kind of preparation let the doctors take better and safer decisions for the patients during the operations.  

MarketingMarketing

Lifestyle brands rely heavily on content marketing to engage with its customers. VR is a new vector letting client emerge in and discover worlds crafted by the brand. Sports equipment brands are publishing on social media 360-videos featuring athletes they sponsor.

Challenges

There are numerous challenges to overcome when launching VR initiatives. From a business perspective, VR is a new paradigm that forces product managers and designers to forge completely new kinds of user experiences. The rapid growth of a fragmented market of VR solutions is also a factor causing paint points when starting a project.

From the technical perspective, the main difficulty lies in selecting and exploiting the right VR frameworks and tools when new ones are popping up every week.

The rapid growth of a fragmented market of VR solutions is also a factor causing paint points when starting a project.

Where OpenWT can help you

At Open Web Technology, we help our clients leveraging new technologies, such as virtual reality, to reshape their business, invent new products or transform their organization. Our experts will guide you through the complexity of this new challenge and define the strategy to adopt in your industry. We will help you get started on your first projects involving virtual reality technologies and accompany you to scale globally.

Stay tuned for future publications from our experts on this and other strategic topics on our website and on social media channels.