Virtual Reality; Real Results: AR and VR’s Role In the Future of Consumer Interaction

Red Dog Media AR and VR Headset

Since 2014, augmented and virtual reality have proven to be not only innovative but lucrative as well. This has caused many big name companies to try to get a piece of the pie and expand the uses of this exciting new technology. Although AR and VR were originally intended for just entertainment, it has worked its way into multiple different sectors, such as sales, real estate, and medical to name a few. This only solidifies that AR and VR are not gimmicks and in fact are here to stay. After seeing this technology in action, our employees at Red Dog Media couldn’t help but agree with why it’s taking the world by storm.

It didn’t take long before some companies realized that AR could be used in sales and marketing to improve their customer’s experiences. Regal Entertainment Group recently announced that they will be handing out augmented reality programs to their customers at their cinemas called Moviebill. Moviebill will be individualized to each theatre location and include cover art for the movie and exclusive content like behind-the scenes features, games, commentary, and deleted scenes. Target has also started using AR to their advantage. Their mobile website now supports a feature called “See It In Your Space” which allows the user to use their smartphone camera to see how furniture they are interested in will look in their home. It’s as easy as taking a photo of the space, moving, scaling, and rotating the item, then adding it to your shopping cart directly from the image. Target is not the only retailer to implement AR when it comes to selling furniture. Wayfair, Chairish, Housecraft, and IKEA have all recently added AR compatibility to their apps. It is no surprise that companies are following suit as integrating AR is showing positive results for consumers and businesses.

Because VR has made itself a home in the real estate market, many buyers and sellers are experiencing properties in a whole new way. Matterport, an immersive media company, has created a way for customers to view a 3D walkthrough of properties right from their personal computer. Marc Rehberger, Matterport’s Director of Commercial Real Estate, states that “it increases the amount of time spent on an ad between three to six times when there’s a Matterport model on that ad.” The use of 360-degree cameras allow them to provide an experience that is true to real life. Another company that’s tapping into the VR market is Virtual Xperience. Their speciality is creating 3D models of properties that are in development or under construction. A VR headset can be used to view the full walkthrough of the 3D model which leaves little to the imagination. This technology allows investors to start selling properties before construction even starts on the projects. Developers have also integrated real time features that let you changes the lighting, materials, furnishing, and color palette which allow the buyer to visualize a personalized space before they buy. Using VR in the real estate market allows the buyer to see each property come to life in the virtual world, creating a more comfortable and custom shopping experience.

One area that has shown endless amounts of promise for AR and VR integration is the medical field. Whether it’s to train incoming medical professionals or to help heal patients, AR and VR have proved to be invaluable tools. When it comes to teaching anatomy, there is a list of issues that come along with using cadavers. On top of being expensive and difficult to maintain, dissection labs are usually over crowded which keeps each student from having a good view and the harsh preservation chemicals can cause issues with allergies in some students. Case Western decided to find a better way to teach medical students anatomy at their new college campus. Instead of using cadavers, students will learn through the use of virtual reality. Students will be able to use a Microsoft HoloLens to view a 3D representation of the human body and “navigate through the layers of skin, muscle, blood vessels, and organs to the skeleton below.” The HoloLens gives the student a unique perspective of the structures and allows them to get a better understanding of the human body. VR is also being used to help patients recover faster. Mindmaze, a neurotechnology company, created MindMotionPro to help rehabilitate people who have suffered from a stroke or traumatic brain injury. The program “allows patients to ‘practice’ how to lift their arms or move their fingers with the help of virtual reality.” The app enhances traditional therapy by focusing on heightening attention, motivation, and engagement with auditory and visual feedback. Performing these repetitive movements helps the affected nervous systems to recover at a faster rate. Advancements in medical technology like these are just the tip of the iceberg. As AR and VR become more sophisticated we will definitely see it being used more frequently in the medical field.

In March of 2016, Red Dog Media sent the entire development team to the 2016 Microsoft Build conference in San Francisco, California. While there, they got the opportunity to experience VR technology for themselves. One of our developers had this to say about a demo for a first person shooter game, “I was amazed by the hand controls. It’s crazy that the controllers make the game respond just like a real gun; you actually have sights on it, you aim it, and it worked as if I actually had it in my hands. I’ve seen a standard controller used with VR in the past but it made the experience much more isolated. I was extremely impressed by how the new controllers changed that. The experience is a lot more immersive than it used to be. You can now interact with objects instead of just controllers; it’s so synchronized. The movement is natural now, giving a realistic feeling to a fake reality.” After experiencing how immersive VR can be, it’s easy to see why companies would want to utilize this technology to their advantage. This type of technology fascinates our team and some even use it in their regular lives. One of our employees enjoys taking his Samsung Gear 360 with him on his vacations. This allows him to take 360 degree photos and videos, which can be viewed with a VR headset later. These types of photos let him relive the moments at home or share the photos with friends as the style of photography makes it feel like you are actually there. Whether it’s from personal interest or from being integrated in the products they use, our employees at Red Dog Media will be using VR more in the future.

Although AR and VR started from humble beginnings, its presences in modern technology is ever growing. It has only found applications in some markets but in time AR and VR might be integrated into our everyday lives. After seeing the tech in action, the Red Dog Media employees understand its spot in the digital market more and look forward to seeing other technological advancements around it in the future.

photo credit: NVIDIA Corporation Eyes-on with our Light Field Display prototype at #VRLA via photopin (license)