What is the Right AR or VR Solution for Your Company?
As companies hear about the adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) solutions, they want to assess where immersive apps might fit into their technology roadmaps. I regularly have companies or individual entrepreneurs approach me for advice on how to incorporate AR or VR into their processes or offerings. It reminds me of the initial “dot com” era in the 90’s when everyone wanted to have a website, because, well, everyone was supposed to want to have a website, or everyone was likely to get rich with the killer website. The same phenomenon occurred when mobile apps first started becoming prevalent. My response is the same as it was then, and as it would be with the analysis of any potential technology solution.
Before Asking “What?”, Ask “Why?”
Why should your company choose an augmented reality or virtual reality solution?
- Wrong answers:
- It’s cool
- It’s cutting-edge
- Everyone’s doing it and we don’t want to be left behind
- Right answers:
- It will help your company convey its message
- It will promote your brand
- It will help you train your staff or educate your students
- It will provide entertainment or gaming in a compelling way, which wouldn’t make sense without AR or VR
- It will help grow your company financially
To be fair: Those wrong answers aren’t entirely wrong reasons for your company to invest time and money in immersive solutions. They just better not be the only reasons! Read on:
Goal Driven Technology Choices
You are in business to accomplish specific goals and ultimately, in many cases, to make money. If you are in a decision making position at your company, then you are accountable for defining and meeting metrics that show progress toward those goals. Your company exists to create a product, or to educate or entertain people, or to provide some service to consumers or other businesses. The technology you choose to incorporate should be driven by those goals. Think of an AR or VR solution as you would any other software project, and ask the same questions:
- What can we accomplish with AR or VR that we cannot accomplish otherwise?
- What are the benefits of pursuing such solutions, and against which costs and risks should those benefits be weighed?
AR and VR and Both, Oh My!
AR and VR are spoken of as general overall solutions. In fact, they are fundamentally different and there are many applications for each. As a quick overview:
- AR creates the illusion that virtual objects are placed into the physical world, based on what your camera sees
- VR creates the illusion that the user is placed a virtual world, perhaps a simulated world or a 360 video
- Aspects of each can be combined in Mixed Reality (MR) solutions, and yes, new acronyms appear regularly, as immersive technology is evolving
Please follow me to read other posts diving deeper into decision points for each.
Although gaming and entertainment are two obvious initial offerings, there are many other ways in which these technologies can support your business and drive insights and revenue. Some examples are:
- brand recognition and advertising
- data visualization and machine learning
- education and training
- preconstruction walk-throughs and real estate tours
- health care and medical training
Companies like mine, and other AR / VR Solution Consultants, have the opportunity to work with companies and enterprises across this spectrum, as well as with startups that are coming up with ground breaking innovations that in many cases exhibit great new use cases for immersive technologies. Consider seeking guidance in exploring where your company fits into the immersive landscape.
Why Choose NOT to Integrate AR or VR?
There are inherent risks in any project, and certainly in large technology projects. In the case of AR and VR, you are also considering emerging technologies (at least in the general market) which are still growing and whose standards continue to evolve. Should that scare you away? No, but it should be considered. There are a large variety of hardware platforms, each with associated risks and costs. The required software development skills are somewhat analogous to those in some existing areas, but retraining in-house development resources will require some investment of time and money.
Please follow me to read other posts about hardware and software options in this space.
Are the Risks Too High?
No, not necessarily, but they are risks and should be considered and mitigated as in any project.
Consider engaging a consultant to help with the analysis and solution architecture.
Consider outsourcing development, or having your development teams augmented (no pun intended) with experienced AR and VR engineers to lessen the impact of the learning curve, and to assist in training your teams.
Of course, we’d be happy to offer guidance, with respect to potential solutions and team building, both in general, and for your specific domain.
And the Winner Is …
Finally, remember that with any product or service, you don’t necessarily need to be the first to market, but you need to solve a problem in an effective and compelling way that serves a significant part of the market and helps your company meet its goals. That is true for a startup trying to introduce some groundbreaking app, or a large corporation trying to find a better way to automate their processes with the latest digital media technology.
So ask questions
- Ask yourself and your colleagues what it is you are trying to solve or improve.
- Ask your customers and the market which hardware, software and approaches are likely to be adopted
- Ask your teams what resources are appropriate and available
- Of course, if we can be helpful in formulating the right questions, and working with you to get to the right answers, ask us!
Howard Olah-Reiken is president of Preferred App Consulting, where he advises and mentors companies looking to incorporate Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Digital eyewear and other emerging technology into their enterprise. He builds prototypes and leads engineering teams in solution development. Howard, a member of the VR/AR Association Enterprise Committee, works actively to build the AR/VR community.