IDC Directions Recap: The Business Impact of Augmented & Virtual Reality

Remember that Pokémon Go frenzy last summer? That location-based, augmented reality app was top of mind July 2016; and the attraction towards real world immersion applications doesn’t seem to be fading any time soon. At this year’s IDC Directions, Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President, Devices & AR/VR, shared the use of augmented and virtual reality is on the rise in his session AR/VR: Charting the Business Impact of the Next Human/Machine Interfaces. So what are the business benefits of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and when will these practices actually be adopted in organizations? Here are some highlights from Mainelli’s session:

  1. Physical Interface
    • Augmented reality and virtual reality are the next generation of digital innovation. The business benefit they provide is the opportunity to change the interface of how we learn and create information.
    • For example, AR allows individuals to see through IoT by information coming off of objects – such as instructions associated with devices (i.e. doing construction renovations and being able to see a step-by-step guideline directly in front of you). Another next gen capability will be bring individuals together through VR for a work conference call/meeting.
  2. Maturity of Virtual Reality
    • The little sister to AR, VR is maturing for mainstream audiences. Mainelli explained that 78% of tech decision-makers have heard of VR and know what it is, and ¼ are interested in buying VR/hardware within 12 months. So where will virtual reality make an appearance first? Predictions include live sports and commercial space adoption, such as providing education for doctors, assisting in architecture, and viewing a live sports game “from the stands” in your home.
    • Although mature, VR now needs to race to reach scale. As programs have already launched, costs must now decrease and programs must evolve. The VR hardware means nothing without good content, therefore companies must research and begin to expand their content using this platform.
    • There are a few challenges associated with VR which include:
      • Interaction modes (they need to move away from controllers)
      • Heavy on graphics and processing power, so a lot of data is always needed
      • Human element that not everyone does well in a virtual reality experience
  1. The Game Changer: Augmented Reality
    • With the goal of blending virtual reality and real life, it’s going to take a little bit longer for AR to become mainstream. AR is closer to a real world experience than VR by bringing 3D graphics into reality that can be manipulated.
    • There is already significant interest in AR – 30% of IT decision-makers are using or testing AR software. What’s the appeal for them? Well, they are looking for increased efficiency, hands-free work, and safety. For example, in the construction and architecture business, builders and designers will be able to detect and solve problems before the structure is even built by viewing an AR model.
    • VR is not challenge free – optics are difficult to perfect, hand and eye tracking needs continued research, it’s dependent on network and backend tools, and VR is currently not a standalone product therefore it is not portable.

To bring the session to a close, Mainelli noted that the future will ultimately bring a merged VR & AR experience, but there is still an endless amount of opportunity in this technology space. Want insight on how the digital and visual world are impacting marketing? Check out our blog “What’s Next for Content Marketing? The Interactive Digital Experience”.


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