For many years now there have been numerous product launches which offer a new take on reality. Virtual reality is still very niche and very appropriate to gaming however augmented reality has always been the distant cousin with no real user case until now. As consumer grade technology has improved most new devices possess the power to offer a very good AR experience, just look at Pokemon go. However, if we look at credible uses for the masses numerous companies are now targeting the consumer and you could completely decorate / refurbish your house if you wanted. Amazon and Ikea have apps to which preview items for sale and you can view them in the proposed location with a mobile device; even Dulux has created a paint visualiser to enable you to see how rooms could look different with different wall finishes. Google and Apple are even offering platforms for people to create Apps using AR.
So what about the enterprise? Usage is certainly not far off especially as tablets are common place in the office so the time to dabble with POV/POCs is nearly here. Especially if the technology can move from 2D to 3D recognition and new form factor technology like glasses become mainstream.
So where could it be used? AR overlays digital data onto the real world so anywhere which dangerous is ideal, in the training environment, like the consumer space in Building Design, Refurbishments, Marketing. How about linking insurance quotes to object placement apps like above? You can even see it leveraging some of the translation services offered by google or object identification for people with disabilities like Seeing AI from Microsoft.
So get those thinking caps on as when you link AR to AI you have a very powerful proposition.
Do you remember when you wanted a fixed telephone line in your house or mobile just to make telephone calls rather than access the Internet? The world has certainly changed in the last 17 years since the rollout of Broadband in the UK and so has the enterprise’s position on their offerings. Now most companies are moving to become a Data Provider or Creator with the net result that calls/texts are now becoming free and consumers only paying for the data. This new data focus is certainly consumer driven however consumption patterns are changing too as technology preferences stabilise.
In a recent report entitled “future in focus 2017” by Comscore (although focused on the US market) it highlighted a range of interesting statistics. The US Smartphone market is reaching saturation at 81%; desktop usage is declining and the tablet market flattening (this is in direct correlation to the increase in 4.5inch + mobile sales).
Since 2013 Smartphones have seen a +99% increase in usage, Tablets +26% and Desktops -8%. The average person is now spending 2hrs 51 minutes a day on their mobile which equates to 71% of their digital experience (61% in the UK) and the biggest increase in apps are ones which improve real time behaviours i.e. hailing cabs, traffic navigation, making shopping/selling fun, mobile wallets etc. (Waze, Uber, Wish, Venmo, Lyft etc).
However even though everyone is favouring mobile the sales conversation rate is still lower than traditional or tablet channels (although Mobile is the only medium seeing constant growth) so it may be a few years before smartphones take the lion share or possibly not.
Remember mobiles have only been finding their footing over the last few years and have now come of age. It is claimed that certain markets have now reached saturation and the processing power (the new 2017 handsets will be able to handle AR/VR) being offered is similar to PCs. Also with the increased form factor (4.5 inch +) we will suddenly see smartphones displacing tablets upon replacement. Don’t also forget that the increased security (Biometrics), waterproofing and high end cameras are making these devices a one stop shop. Therefore the time is right to start developing for mobile, in the past responsive sites were top priority, however this probably explains why purchases are still being made on traditional channels. We constantly talk about the digital native and then design applications which are responsive and as we know “one size does not fit all”. In the future advances will be seen by those whose customer journey is built from the bottom up with small form factors in mind and not the desktop. There are very few sites that really get it right today so the opportunity if out there for the taking
The thought of changing ones perception and entering a Virtual or Augmented Reality is not new. However over the last few years the technology has advanced to where the price point is now within everyone’s grasp. Back in June 2016 I wrote about AR so this time I will provide some insights into VR.
Virtual Reality as we know it today originated from Science fiction and its first reference is believed to have come from the 1935 short story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” by Stanley G Weinbaum where he described a goggle-based virtual reality system with holographic recording of fictional experiences, including smell and touch. Since then there have been numerous products which have lead us to today and I imagine everyone has used something that tried to enhance reality (Back in 1939 View-Master stereoscopes were introduced) or seen a Program that glorified the Technology (In 1974 the Holodeck made its debut on Star Trek. ). In its infancy VR mainly resided in the gaming community however recently it has fragmented into multi price point options accessible by all.
At the low end we are seeing headsets which range from Cardboard to Googles Latest Daydream View where Apps can be downloaded onto your phone and the phone used as the viewing platform. Just search VR on the Apple or Google App stores and see the options; they are not just games.
At the high end however even more Innovation is being seen. With the likes of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Gear or Rift suddenly enterprise grade headsets are appearing that can solve enterprise problems. Applications are now being created where the headsets can be used for immersive, education, engineering and medical procedures. In the Business environment you just need to forget the gaming angle and suddenly the possibilities are endless. Any Digital process which can be changed in real time could be viewed via a headset and changed in seconds to enable Agile development. Think of the Marketing opportunities and how the sales process could start before the final product is finished. As the technology matures over the next few years and its price point moves to a consumable item everyone will be embracing Reality 2.0.
As technology continues to evolve and the realisation that those pesky unicorns are not so easy to find, most organisations are now starting to embark on a digital journey to embrace what the tech companies have been doing for years. You can see this manifested in numerous industries where more announcements are being made at technology events like CES than the traditional venues. One recent example is the automotive industry where in 2017 more Innovation was announced at CES (The Consumer Electronics Show) than their traditional venue of the Motor Show. These disruptive vanilla applications will certainly ripple across the whole ecosystem so it is important to not just “look down” at the specific Innovation but also look laterally for the “aftershock”. If we look at a few examples it will become apparent how any Innovation can disrupt all industries.
Transport – This may be a way away however just think if there were autonomous cars driving around 24×7; why would you ever buy a car (it is also believed that children being born now may never learn to drive). If you then think laterally at the aftershock there would be a knock-on into how you insure yourself, why would you need a garage in your house or even a drive, cities wouldn’t need car parks. What effect would this also have on the logistics businesses if these vehicles could also deliver shopping or purchases?
Self Help – The wearable market is expected to be worth $34.6 Billion by 2020, so imagine what could happen if everyone became proactive to health rather than relying on the traditional reactive Doctors surgery? Health insurance would change, hospitals and doctors would certainly change, a new product line of self testing and DNA would emerge plus the whole pharma industry would shift into preventative medicine. Also 200 million consumer virtual reality head-mounted displays are predicted to be sold worldwide by 2020 so this will cause disruptions right cross industries from Health, to Training, Gaming etc.
UI – What will be the interface of the future? I have already mentioned above about VR however what about AR (Augmented Reality), Voice and Touch. The Qwerty keyboard has been around since the 1870s so maybe a change is due. What would this do to the world if interaction with a computer was no longer by a keyboard?
As you can see from the few examples above its not just the individual Innovations which will cause disruptions but also the aftershock, so look up, look around and suddenly the opportunities will be plenty.
Even though there has been a tremendous amount of hype around Augmented and Virtual Reality a real useable application for the masses has yet to emerge (excluding games). This month however Visa brought us a glimmer of hope that AR could be used for purchases when it showcased its Proof of Concept with House Of Holland . The concept of using mobiles to purchase items is not new and has been used via QR codes for years. Back in 2011 Tesco Homeplus in South Korea launched a Virtual Shop where commuters could order groceries via a QR Code in the subway and the same year eBay opened a pop up shop in London (following similar schemes run by Amazon, House of Fraser and even Marks & Spencer) to encourage shoppers to view physical items and then order them via their handsets to prevent the need for tills or for the items to be carried home.
The Visa POC however has taken this concept one step further and for this demo partnered with Blippar to allow attendees of a fashion show to use advanced image recognition to identify garments they liked via their mobile camera when seen on the runway and then purchase via the app. The Blippar app can now “recognise” and provide more information on more than half a billion everyday objects ranging from a type of flower to an airport. This type of identification and payment technology could offer numerous possibilities and not just in the consumer shopping space but across the whole supply chain. How long could it be before we stop filling in forms and can just identify an item we want to buy or insure?