Virtual Reality (VR) and other kinds of digital realities will affect our society in ways that we are yet to imagine. Gartner Group estimates that Virtual Reality will hit the mainstream in the next couple of years. Many companies are facing difficult decisions on if and how to incorporate various digital realities in their business offerings.

The reality is, that digital reality is for most businesses, at best a blank canvas. To better understand the challenges and opportunities in a digital reality, it is important to understand the different options available. Currently, there are three different kinds of digital realities: virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR).

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Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) mixes the real world with digital elements. Virtual Reality (VR) uses both visual and auditory elements to transfer the users to a virtual world using headsets and specific environments optimised for VR. Virtual Reality is currently mostly used in games and movie experiences.

When considering developing a campaign in VR it is important to keep in mind that there are different kinds of VR setups and the costs and results associated with the different setups vary.

The most basic is mobile VR, which is VR-powered by a smartphone. This is the cheapest way to experience and for that reason the most prevalent. Examples of mobile VR include Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear.

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The next step up really depends on whether you want to move around in a room or not. Stationary VR systems like Oculus Rift requires a console or a powerful computer to power the experience. There are also systems like the HTC Vive that sense user movement and allows you to move around.

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Augmented Reality (AR)

Following the announcements of the tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple usually gives us a good understanding of where technology development is going. Both Facebook and Apple recently announced advanced initiatives within Augmented Reality.

So what is Augmented Reality (AR)? AR enhances reality by overlaying various elements. Examples of overlays can be social media notifications, navigation cues or even monsters like in Pokémon Go. With the exception of some games, AR can really be seen as a usability layer. AR applications are mainly accessed through a camera on your portable device. Many mobile phone applications today feature various forms of AR elements and these will continue to increase.

Facebook presented a number of new AR initiatives during their latest developer conference. Some things presented were: integrated shopping experiences where a user could purchase a bottle of wine by looking at it on a table. Nike announced various filters that one could add after having completed a workout. This technology was released in beta today.

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Mixed Reality (MR)

MR and AR can often be confused since both involve adding combining digital objects with the environment. MR, on the other hand, focuses or on adding photorealistic objects that can be interacted with through a headset or an app. MR is still in an early phase.

Until very recently VR, AR and MR were seen as fun and exciting things to try at trade shows. However, these technologies are starting to take the step over to the mainstream. Companies will need to understand how their business can profit from or be affect by these technologies. 

If you want to find out more about how VR, AR and MR will affect your business, contact Zooma!

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Nils Munk Wirell

Director of Visualisation 2016-2019

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