businessman using vr headset for mixed reality in business

Augmented reality in business is it here to stay? It took the world by storm, millions gathered in local parks, famous landmarks and crowded usually quiet streets, all in an attempt to catch their favourite digital creatures. Powered by augmented reality (AR), Pokémon Go saw millions of people worldwide try out the very latest in AR software. Developers of Pokémon Go, Niantic, an internal startup of Google were no strangers to AR, having developed their first platform Ingress (a capture the flag type game) but it was the world’s fascination with Pokémon that saw the company reach explosive growth. In the first month, Pokémon Go made US$207 million in revenue and while its monthly users have since dropped off from the early days, Niantic now boasts a valuation of over US4 billion. The success of Niantic has led many businesses worldwide to rethink their marketing strategies and incorporate some form of mixed reality business applications in their business model to cater to the technology’s growing adopters.

 

In this month’s featured publication, we take a look at augmented reality vs virtual reality vs mixed reality, how augmented reality business applications are changing how consumers interact with the world, and the future of mixed reality in business. For the very latest in digital trends and managed IT services get in touch with us Connected Platforms for a free IT audit.

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality vs Mixed Reality

The origins of virtual reality can be dated back to 1968 when the first VR head-mounted display was made by Ivan Sutherland and his student. Fast forward thirty years and the technology has come a long way since the scary-looking headset that was connected to a computer. Companies continue to develop the technology, Microsoft for example, has released their HoloLens platform for developers to utilise AR/MR across a range of industries. So, what exactly are the differences between augmented reality vs virtual reality vs mixed reality?  

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality immerses users in a fully virtual environment using a VR headset. Think of the Oculus Rift, or Google VR that attaches to your smartphone. Users immersed in a VR environment experience the artificial sounds and sights as if they were actually in the digital world. Imagine closing and opening your eyes to be standing in front of some world’s most iconic landmarks. VR applications continue to improve, and the most recent applications allow you to move and interact within the environment.

Augmented Reality

AR continues to reach new heights in popularity and augmented reality business applications are becoming increasingly utilised across a range of industries. Unlike VR, where you are immersed in a virtual world, AR alters or ‘augments’ the real world. With Pokémon Go, you could have a furry creature sitting next to you on the sofa, and you could even try on a range of different hats from an online shop to see how they look before adding them to your cart. With AR no expensive headsets are required, most smartphones and tablets have AR capabilities just with the use of built-in video cameras.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is the most recent development in VR/AR technology and combines both VR and AR to make a truly immersive experience. At present there are two types of MR, mixed reality that starts with the real world and mixed reality that starts with the virtual world. The former is considered to be an advanced form of AR where virtual elements are overlaid on top of the real world. However, unlike AR, users in MR are also able to interact with those overlays. Subsequently, in mixed reality that starts in the virtual world, the digital environment is anchored and replaces the real world. In mixed reality, physical and digital objects co-exist and can interact in real-time. What can we expect from augmented reality and mixed reality in business over the coming years?

Applications of Augmented and Mixed Reality in Business

The digital age continues to advance at supersonic speeds, with younger users not having experienced installing a piece of software with ten floppy disks and only knowing the floppy disk as the ‘save icon’. Adoption of augmented reality in business is expected to continue its rapid growth over the coming years with some analysts expecting the augmented reality market to reach over USD$198 billion by 2025, from its relatively modest USD$3.5 billion in 2017. A recent Toshiba survey showed that 82% of respondents expect to be using some form of mixed reality business applications within the next three years.

 

Businesses everywhere are looking to capitalise on AR/MR opportunities to virally market their products in unique and noticeable ways. Retail, education and travel and tourism are just some of the markets this technology is paving its way into.

 

Retail

Retailers have long harnessed the power of the latest marketing trends to increase customer satisfaction, retention and provide personalised experiences. With AR customers can see how different furniture pieces would look in their own home, try on the latest in fashion, and even see what their hair will look like after a day at the beauty salon. MR can take this a step further allowing customers to visit and walk around a furniture showroom, add items to a virtual cart and see how they would look, all from the comfort of their own home.

 

Education and Training   

Augmented reality in business for education and training brings limitless possibilities. Students across a variety of disciplines can train using real-life simulations; Medical students can practice surgery, and watch designers could model and design watches in real time. With MR, the geography/archeology student can be whisked away and interact with exotic destinations they were only able to previously see in a textbook.

 

Travel and Tourism

The travel and tourism industry also has a lot to be gained from augmented and mixed reality business applications with many providers already offering some form of AR experience. Customers can point their smartphone or tablet at a building to learn more about an object or location in real-time, and travel operators could offer a ‘try-before-you-visit’ experience where customers would sample the destination in MR before booking flights!

Is mixed reality in business just a fad? Or will it change the way we interact with the world over the coming decades? Only time will tell, for now the practical uses of augmented and mixed reality business applications are definitely changing the software landscape and how businesses are interacting with their customers.       

 

Looking for more information on how your business can take advantage of the latest mixed reality business applications or how augmented reality in business is changing the way we discover the world? Get in touch with a managed IT specialist at Connected Platforms to see how we can integrate the latest technology into your business or to find out more about other IT solutions we can help you with today.