Archive for the ‘Augmented Reality’ Category


Kaleido Insights’ Impact Analysis on Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality

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By Jaimy Szymanski, Jeremiah Owyang, Jessica Groopman, and Rebecca Lieb of Kaleido Insights.

Virtual Reality Headsets. Image From Heavy.com

As VR/AR/MR make their way into the corporate ecosystem, positive impacts and operational efficiencies abound. From sales and service; to HR, safety, and training; to engineering and product development, teams feel their wake and harness the power of informational overlay.

Kaleido Insights’ methodology for analyzing emerging technology assesses the impacts on humans, on businesses, and on the ecosystem. As part of our ongoing coverage, we’ll be covering a series of topics using our methodology to help business leaders first understand, and then see beyond the bright and shiny and cut right to what matters.

In each post, all Kaleido Insights analysts conduct a joint analysis session around one topic (e.g. technology, event, announcement, etc.). In this post, we analyze the business and organizational impacts of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality.

Topic: VR/AR/MR

Examples:
Oculus Rift; HTC Vive, Playstation VR, Google Cardboard, Microsoft Hololens, Samsung Gear VR, other plug-and-play smartphone options

Impact Analysis: Organizations & Business

Business Opportunities and Use Cases
As VR/AR/MR have permeated business environments, leaders are recognizing that opportunities reach beyond video gaming and novelty. VR/AR/MR have a place in every industry, with multiple use cases. Many of these use cases require interoperability with other technologies to reach full potential, including artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, wearables, drones, 3D-printing, facial recognition, and more.

  • Immersive training and education. Organizations have the opportunity to use VR to train employees — either onsite or remotely — in virtual, simulated worksite environments. Consider options in scaling complex equipment, repair, or other training programs to multiple employees at various locations. EON Reality is experimenting with Chick-fil-A on a training program that immerses potential employees in a restaurant kitchen to train in a virtual environment. VR training is also effective in immersing trainees in high-pressure or otherwise dangerous scenarios. There are AR/MR education opportunities to train employees on-the-job using visual informational overlay via augmented reality glasses or similar technologies. This effectively brings a catalog of contextual product and merchandising data to the forefront of employee access. There are numerous examples of surgeons and doctors using VR and AR for complex surgical training.
  • Skills, Operating, and Repair Guidance. Augmented and mixed reality shine in their facilitation of efficient employee guidance while performing difficult or heavily information-dependent skills, operating machinery, or repairing equipment. Viewed as a visual overlay to the real world via AR glasses or specialty headsets, mobile phones, or tablets, AR expands information about physical equipment that is useful to employees. This may include procedural directions, machine models, serial numbers, repair parts, operating manuals, and more. For example, Caterpillartechnicians are outfitted with Hololens and AR-equipped tablets (see image below) to provide informational overlays to increase repair efficiency and accuracy.

Image Sources: Caterpillar Inc.’s YouTube Video, “Augmented Reality Brings Data to Life at Caterpillar” and the Internet of Things (IoT) Institute

  • Engineering Planning and Product Development. VR gives organizations the opportunity to understand products, parts, and machinery before they hit production. By creating 3D models that can be explored via virtual reality software and hardware, engineers are able to better predict potential design issues, collisions among other parts or equipment, plan for ergonomics of employee operations, and steer clear of potential safety concerns. Using VR, manufacturing design and engineering transforms from reactive to proactive, allowing for entire teams to easily weigh in on the process before any real-world applications are implemented.
  • Sales and Marketing Engagement. Virtual reality can also be used as both a technical sales and consumer sales tool. In industrial capacities, VR offers the ability to view intricacies of machinery, parts, or tooling before a purchase order is signed. This builds bridges between those designing the technologies and equipment with less technical buyers. By creating proofs-of-concept in VR, sales prospects are immersed and influenced in a deeper way during design reviews. Looking toward consumer focused AR, retailers like Uniqlo (see image below) are experimenting with virtual dressing rooms, allowing customers to “try on” clothing without ever disrobing, and Ikea is well-known for its AR app that places furniture into the homes of its customers. Imagine the opportunity for a service like StitchFix to create a virtual stylist environment for customers to access their monthly shipments and try them on (with potential for upselling) before the physical clothing is even sent.

Above image: Uniqlo’s “Magic Mirror” augmented reality experience

  • Immersive Storytelling. From the New York Times, to Charity Water, to Save the Children International, VR has been used to tell more gripping and emotional stories in immersive environments. VR/AR/MR are growing in organizational content marketing strategies as another channel to voice brand promise, promote new products and services, and raise awareness for causes. These technologies are also being used to augment tourist experiences in new ways, as Disney World is readying a Star Wars VR experience to launch next year.

Business Models
We’ll see VR/AR/MR enhancing existing business models via enabling new revenue streams in new channels. There are also significant opportunities to achieve cost savings in maintenance, repair, and design. There may also be business model potential in creating goods in virtual or augmented environments and either a. ordering them for real-world shipment or b. 3D-printing them at home. New communications models are already emerging to meet friends in virtual reality spaces, as is possible in “Rec Room” on the Steam network for HTC Vive. Look for new opportunities to emerge in the travel space as well, when VR users can virtually visit exotic locations for a price.

Organizational Structure and Leadership
VR/AR/MR pushes the internal departmental boundaries at organizations that are not equipped to rapidly innovate and harness the power of disruptive technologies. The lines will continue to blur between digital, marketing, IT, and innovation groups as a greater focus on CX and EX (employee experience) rises from new VR/AR/MR implementations. The rise of the “Innovation Center of Excellence” gives way to quicker VR/AR/MR initiative development when multiple business units are working in synchronicity. The first department to deploy VR/AR/MR will depend on its use case (e.g. if it’s consumer-focused, it will likely be marketing, whereas if it’s training focus it may sprout from a partnership between IT and HR).

Change Management
As with any disruptive technology, expect push-back from older generations or late adopters who have not yet found a valuable use case for VR/AR/MR in their lifestyle or career. These technologies begin to (or, fully, in some cases) replace human-to-human, real-world interactions, as well as require new user skillsets, which can be difficult for employees to embrace. In corporate environments, utilizing training and education programs around on-the-job VR/AR/MR use cases that make work easier, more efficient, or save money can be an effective foray into catalyzing change management and helping ease employees into their use.

Another popular challenge related to change management is that VR/AR/MR technology is initially viewed as a novelty. Companies may receive mixed reception from customers and prospects as to the viability of VR/AR as an engineering/design/sales tool. They’re intrigued by the possibility, but not convinced of its value or capabilities. Only through assigning measurable objectives, regular experimentation, learning, and failing fast, can organizations quickly prove its value.

Data Lifecycle
In the world of relatively nascent VR, the provider with the most content ultimately wins. This reward typically falls to one in the headset monopoly of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR (of which, Vive sees greatest developer popularity). Consumers choose the headset that offers the content they desire, and companies follow suit in the “what can you do for my use case?” mindset. AR/MR are broader and more accessible across devices, as the associated hardware is most often a mobile phone. Apple’s AR Kit has also democratized development with its accessibility and ease of use.

Process, Governance, Compliance
Internal process and governance around VR/AR/MR initiatives will depend on the use cases established. In terms of compliance, we foresee the biggest hurdle being consent in regard to AR/MR, especially on a global scale where protecting individual privacy and identity can be paramount to a country’s culture. When anyone can use AR/MR facial recognition features, or overlay data on their environment, compliance is difficult to enforce at every level of consumer, employee, and ecosystem interaction.

Measurement
Specific metrics attached to VR/AR/MR are dependent on the business use case established for the technology within an organization. Sample metrics may include:

  • Decrease in accidents on trained scenarios
  • More efficient repairs and installations
  • Reduced maintenance costs and shop-floor collisions
  • Reduced rework on jobs over time
  • Increased profitability on programming tools and fixtures
  • More efficient use of time on redesigns (less total redesigns)
  • More efficient troubleshooting
  • More complete design back-ups
  • Increased sales and more satisfied customers due to involvement in VR process

Challenges & Risk Mitigation
Companies misunderstand technology needs and costs associated with virtual reality. Even if starting small and understanding minimum technology requirements, bringing VR/AR/MR into a facility requires costs in hardware (both computers that can handle the necessary operating load and the actual hardware headsets, glasses, immersive cubes, screen panels, etc.), as well as software. Finally, virtual reality presents new challenges to content marketers who are not accustomed to non-linear storytelling that requires multiple scenarios vs. a start-to-finish script. Machine and deep learning will prove to be continually useful in helping generate infinite scenarios in immersive storytelling.

This is just one of the myriad technologies creating new uses cases for business and consumer adoption and value. And, these are just a few of the many impacts on organizations today. Kaleido Insights’ analysts are tracking these and other technologies closely to help you find clarity amidst the chaos. Interested in discussing the impacts of VR/AR/MR­­ — to your customers, business, or ecosystem? Our industry analyst Jaimy Szymanski is looking for interview participants for an upcoming report on VR/AR/MR enabling the “super employee” experience. Contact her here, or reach out via Twitter.

Breakdown: Lego’s “Digital Box”, an Augmented Reality Kiosk

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Augmented Reality provides brands with an engaging experience that merges both the digital and the real world. This 30 second video shows how a 3D animation on the product box enabled me to understand the assembled product.

Lego’s “Digital Box” Provides Customers with an Interactive 3D Digital Experience
This weekend, I went to the local Lego store here in Silicon Valley (Hillsdale) to see a practical version of Augmented Reality. I was previously briefed by Metaio, the technology vendor that empowers the software for the Augmented Reality kiosks called, Digital Box. This store, outfitted with a kiosk with a screen and webcam gives instructions on how to show the contents of any box assembled in real time.   Not all of the boxes were equipped (I tried the Star Wars line with no available) but was able to grab this lego kit of a bus, hold it in front of the kiosk.  You can see that the contents ‘assembled’ on the screen, and came to life as a pre-set animation, as I rotated the box, the virtual animation would move with it, giving the illusion that the bus was actually moving over the box.

Breakdown: “Kiosk” Style Augmented Reality

Description Accessing Augmented Reality experiences from a built in camera and screen at a physical location
Market Maturity Embryonic, this market has physical and software barriers, as well as low consumer awareness and adoption.
Vendors Metaio
Requirements Kiosk, webcam, encoded experiences.
Opportunities Increase customer engagement in store, increase intent to buy and reduce sales costs. An immediate opportunity is for retail, small business, tourism, and consumer packaged goods industries. Secondly, media, gaming, home and business design, and mobile industries should take note and investigate this space.
Challenges Consumers have limited awareness to AR space, and are unaware of the kiosks. Interaction is clunky and requires practice, graphics are effective –but not refined
Benefits Brands that deploy AR in 2010 will benefit from “cool” factor being an early adopter.
Risks Expensive deployment to create animations, and put kiosks in all locations.
Verdict Innovative, but a victim of ‘shiny object’ syndrome as the business benefits aren’t directly indicated. Heavy overhead required to deploy hardware and software, as well as moderate learning curve for consumers. To truly become a mainstream channel, AR within stories should be accessed by mobile devices –not kiosks. Secondly, existing web content should be ‘linked’ to existing products that include additional videos, support, and consumer generated content. Brands that have complex consumer packaged goods should deploy in stores, or products that have an heavy education or support cost and can’t deploy in house sales or service folks.

Augmented Reality Not Ready For Primetime –Yet Promises Real World Engagement
The above matrix is just a breakdown of ‘Kiosk” style of Augmented reality, however let’s look at this space as a whole. This technology is in its infancy, the animations are still simple, don’t have a lot of interaction beyond rotation, and require moderate ability to line the product up directly with the web cam. Furthermore, there are barriers to entry as most people didn’t even know about this feature in the store till I showed them, and not every product was outfitted with the ability to display the interactions.

Despite the fact that this is an emerging technology with years ’till maturity, there are three major business opportunities:

  1. Extending the web to the real world. Reusing existing digital marketing and support content (from the web) in the physical world will add mileage to marketing assets.  Consumers can access related existing content such as brochure facts, customer reviews, or web based demos that already exist wherever they are, without looking for a URL.  The camera lens will identify the product, then serve up the context information with a click of a button.
  2. Greasing marketing and sales process. Creating an engaging experience with customers near point of sale reducing sales costs through sales aids or increasing interest. Animations and virtual experiences can be connected with any device from anywhere, triggering demos, how-to videos, or even 3D media that would entice a prospect to spend more time, or purchase the product.   Essentially, this means a virtual sales person or guide could assist any consumer from anywhere at anytime.
  3. Ubiquitous information with mobile devices. Aside from kiosks in stores, we should eventually expect mobile devices to be equipped with the capability to instantly bring up internet information about any product in real-time.  Expect Google to develop a product that maps physical products with their online information, making them yet the middleman for internet advertising –again. Furthermore, it gets really interesting when a brand can ‘hijack’ another company’s brand by creating augmented reality experiences on the boxes of their competitors.

Video: Access Internet Content in Physical Context Using Augmented Reality

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I recently spoke with Dave Elchoness of GoWeb3D who’s one of the early pioneers in the Augmented Reality (AR, but not to be confused with Analyst Relations) industry. In this above video he gives a demonstration of how information (often from the web) can be over layed on top of physical locations. Unlike Virtual Reality (like the now obscure Second Life) the barriers to entry are mobile devices, internet access, and utility can make this a reality.

Dave’s business GoWeb3D provides a data layer on top of the Dutch Layar browser (update: also see Wikitude “World Browser) which is available for some mobile platforms –iPhone is coming. This browser will allow developers to create data layers what will provide AR experiences. Users of this application can “drop” digital content such as blog posts, photos, videos, for their friends or customers who visit a specific location in real life.

[The promise of Augmented Reality is to provide existing internet content in physical context]


What types of business can benefit from Augmented Reality? Any retail or commercial entity with a physical space, any company that sells physical products, any company that does advertising in real life. Despite the promises the biggest challenges will be creating useful applications beyond the ‘cool’ factor. I’ve been using the Yelp “Monacle” feature, which is an interesting first generation –yet the data isn’t always accurate.

I’m still chalking this space as “to watch” as we should first expect growth to happen in the mobile social web first, let’s keep an eye on promising emerging technology as it quickly comes around.

Three Future-Looking Videos Of Augmented Reality For Business

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Augmented Reality is certainly in it’s infancy, and we know that at best, is experimental. I’m new to this space but am watching, and learning from Robert Rice and Dave Elchoness to see  how it develops. While a few years out, see the proposed Hype Cycle, let’s spend time thinking about what the future could hold.

I’m in intake mode. Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched as many augmented reality youtube clips as possible, reading blog posts (as there are no real articles yet from mainstream) and talking to smart folks. What I’ve noticed? Many videos are folks excited about the toys –yet with little reference to how it impacts business. I’ve also been experimenting with Yelp’s monocle, which is sub-par at best, it’s really early days. My biggest challenge? I’m in the wrong country. The innovation and adoption with these tools will come in Europe and Asia –not the tethered American market.

I found a few videos that are void of the “Shiny object” syndrome and focus on how this could improve people’s lives –or fulfill a meaningful business need, here’s three:


Above Video: Supplemental Information Added On Location.
Dutch company Layar appears to be one of the emerging platforms that enables data to be added to physical locations. It’s location specific and allows content to be shown through the display of a phone related to real estate, shopping, and healthcare. Add on a social layer (where are my friend, or should I know them?) and things could become more useful.


Realtà Aumentata – Augmented Reality from soryn on Vimeo.

Above Video: Contextual Information While Reading Book, and On Location
This Italian video shows how virtual reality glasses (glasses are more fantasy than reality… yet) could be used to provide auxiliary content while reading books –or in real world as the character goes to those physical location and is able to get more information. Imagine if every book you read could provide supplemental information from the web or other digital devices. What if every example you read in Groundswell showed a YouTube video of each story –each executive who is mentioned shows their profile information powered by wikipedia, and pictures and speeches from flickr and YouTube. I’ll chalk this video up as certainly futuristic, but showing potential increase knowledge opportunities.


Above Video: Social Data and Contact Info Overlayed in Business Setting.
This future video created by Tat, doesn’t get into the business setting until half way the video, but shows how additional information can be seen in real life. An audience member can ‘scan’ the speaker, and get additional information about their presentations, contact info, and even rate them. Scanning around the table, I had a chuckle when you could see people’s “Mickey Mouse ears” of social site icons appear above their faces.


Early days –but interesting to watch.
It’s early days for the Augmented Reality space, yet that shouldn’t keep us aware of what’s going to emerge in the coming years. Expect innovation and adoption in Europe and Asia, with the US trailing behind. Early bridges will display data from existing web-data bases like Yelp, Facebook, Wikipedia, and review sites. Remember when some websites were not compatible with certain browsers, the AR space is also in it’s infancy as many applications don’t run on all mobile platforms and the data sources are limited.

Lastly, I’m considering hosting an event at our “Hangar” in San Mateo, CA to focus on the business potentials of mobile social networks and augmented reality. Perhaps in Q1, 2010. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating, leave a comment below.