Customer Experience Tools
Augmented and virtual reality tools provide an immersive customer experience with simulations of real or imagined environments using three-dimensional graphics and audio. Augmented reality (AR) brings simulated objects into a user’s world, while virtual reality (VR) brings the user into a simulated world. Both rely on equipment such as head-mounted displays, earphones and haptic controllers to deliver these experiences.
While the technologies are in early stages of adoption, the availability of cheaper sensors, the spread of the Internet of things, and demand for realistic human-tech interactions have unlocked more possibilities.
How companies use augmented/virtual reality tools
- Industrials. Oil and gas companies use AR to handle remote diagnostics and maintenance, or to create machine-assisted workflows.
- Healthcare. Hospitals and physicians use these tools to offer remote appointments and diagnostics, as well as to assist in surgeries.
- Training and education. Healthcare providers can use AR to train staff.
- Gaming. Enthusiasts can experience first-person simulations and fantasy locales.
- Entertainment and media. Companies can create experiences for concerts, events, news, travel and immersive journalism.
- Retail. Shoppers can browse virtual malls and showrooms, view interactive ads and signs, and even try on clothes.
- Training. Aviation companies can train pilots to use new equipment.
Wide adoption of AR and VR hinges on having all aspects of the ecosystem up and running.
- Hardware. AR and VR require specialized equipment with the right sensors, processing power, battery life and form factor, among other characteristics. VR reality usually relies on standalone devices or those tethered to a smartphone or computer.
- Content. VR depends on having the right game or entertainment content, while AR relies on industry-specific applications. In either case, companies typically decide whether to have a closed ecosystem (as with game consoles) or an open ecosystem that attracts third-party developers (as with smartphones). The former ensures quality and a great user experience, while the latter might generate more apps and innovation.
- Data transmission and analytics. Companies can develop these capabilities either in-house or through partnerships. Data and analytics will be especially important for consumer-facing AR tools, if AR glasses ever displace smartphones. Companies must also transmit and process massive amounts of data—with potential help from 5G network technology and machine learning algorithms—and decide where to compute it. Equipping devices with real-time analytics requires more computing power locally, and the battery size and capacity to match. Analytics that involves large data sets or latency usually requires cloud storage.
- Users. Consumers and enterprises must perceive compelling value before they adopt AR or VR. Businesses typically want to see proven returns on investment before they jump in, while consumers seek attractive hardware designs and robust app ecosystems.
- Adoption. To achieve mainstream adoption among consumers, AR headsets need to be more than just a cool gadget. They must also become an item that people feel comfortable wearing in public.