There was a time not so long ago when the promise of immersive virtual reality experiences with practical applications seemed like a failed pipedream. The equipment of the time was slow, unattractive, and relegated to little more than a novelty that few people could experience. Times have changed.
The rapid adoption of relatively powerful mobile devices alongside dedicated VR and AR devices have reignited the promise of obtainable virtual worlds. Popular apps like Pokemon GO! and Google Goggles are bringing augmented reality to the masses, while Facebook’s acquisition of VR startup Oculus Rift hints at VR integration into the largest social network in the world. Whatever the application, it’s clear that businesses of every kind and scale are looking to augmented or virtual reality to push their business models into the next generation. Here are some of the ways they’re utilizing it.
Retail Shopping with Virtual Reality
It’s no secret now that retail sales have been on the decline in the United States. Numerous consumer reports cite ascendant online marketplaces, lack of competitive prices, and pushy salespeople as key reasons the average American is avoiding shopping at brick and mortar locations. It’s no surprise then that retailers are looking to revitalize their retail locations by offering engaging AR and VR experiences to their customers.
A prime example of this new direction for retail comes from VR startup Nomadic. They’ve recently secured $9 million in funding to develop deployable hardware that will allow retails customers to explore physical locations with VR-providing backpacks. This could be anything from a virtual show room for prefabricated houses or entertainment applications like haunted houses. The key promise behind their technology is that users will be able to use physical objects in the real world to interact with the virtual one. Their funding seems to be a vote of confidence from Silicon Valley investors that this may well be the future of retail experiences for large retail companies.
Engineering with AR and VR
Since the creation of the graphical user interface, computers have been instrumental in pushing the mediums of art and engineering forward. Software tool developers like AutoDesk have made a name for themselves by offering software suites that help engineers design everything from planes to cars, and architects who design buildings that can withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. This type of software has become vital to a large number of industries that rely on accurate, intuitive design software.
Augmented and virtual reality are finally capable of allowing designers’ and engineers’ creations to be experienced even before they are put into production. Draftsmen and architects are now able to explore their creations from a first person perspective, further allowing them to refine their creations without constructing a single wall. Aerospace engineers like those at Space X and Blue Origin are now able to develop 3D blueprints of their designs that can be shared across entire departments. This, in turn, fosters broader collaboration amongst professionals. In this arena, AR and VR applications have already proven their worth, and are likely to do more heavy lifting as technology advances.
Advertising Through Augmented Reality
The foundation of Google, Facebook, and other Silicon Valley giants’ business models is advertising. Anticipating what a consumer is most likely to buy based on their search history has become a staple of the tech sector. Augmented reality especially is seen as a frontier rich in possibilities for marketers. At their I/O conference this year, Google revealed their revamped Google Goggles that will allow users to merely point their phone’s camera at a storefront or restaurant in order to see its contact details, hours of operation, and user reviews. Similar software could be used to provide dining and shopping suggestions on the fly to users, in some cases literally drawing a path for them along real roads and sidewalks as seen through their phone’s screen. As long as the data exists for an app to visualize for its users, the possibilities are limitless for what and how an app engages with its users.
You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company or Silicon Valley entrepreneur to see the value of augmented and virtual reality apps for business. No matter what industry you might occupy, there are practical AR and VR applications that can innovate and revolutionize your business model.
Zco possesses a dedicated team of virtual reality and augmented reality developers, 3D artists, and engineers. Our position as a technology leader within the industry means our clients have access to the most recent advances in both hardware and software for their app. Better still is the fact that our iterative development cycles and agile approach to software creation allows the project to mold to your company’s idea, not the other way around. If your company is considering leveraging the power of augmented or virtual reality, contact us today. We’re ready to make your idea a reality.