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How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail

How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail

August 26, 2021

The global augmented and virtual reality market is expected to grow by over $125 billion by 2024. Experts predict that this growth will be fueled largely by the adoption of these technologies in many different industries. For example, the healthcare industry has used augmented and virtual reality technology to train aspiring healthcare professionals, plan surgeries, and provide personalized care to patients remotely. The travel and tourism industry has used these technologies to give consumers the opportunity to virtually travel to exotic destinations, tour museums, and compare different hotels. Augmented and virtual reality technology has changed many industries, but it’s completely transformed the world of retail. How are retailers using virtual and augmented reality technology? How do these technologies benefit retailers and consumers? Here’s what you should know: HOW RETAILERS USE AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGIES Retailers are currently using augmented and virtual reality technologies to provide various services and unique experiences, including: * Virtual Try-On * Product Previews * Games * Virtual Merchandise * Product Tutorials * Employee Training * Virtual Showrooms Virtual Try-On [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Virtual-Try-On.jpg] VIRTUAL TRY-ON Many retailers are using augmented reality technology to provide virtual try-on services to online consumers.  In the world of cosmetics, retailers use augmented reality to allow online shoppers to virtually try on different shades of lipsticks, eyeshadows, blush, and other makeup products. Sephora’s Virtual Artist and Ulta’s GLAMlab tools make it easier for online consumers to choose the right cosmetic products without ever trying them on in-person.  These tools were several years ago, but they surged in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, consumers used Ulta’s GLAMlab tool to try on more than 50 million shades of foundation in the midst of the pandemic.  Consumers can virtually try on clothing items, too. Kohl’s customers can step inside a virtual closet powered by augmented reality technology, try on different items, and mix and match pieces to create different looks that work for their body type. Several shoe companies, including Nike, have also created virtual try-on tools for online consumers. Nike’s tool allows consumers to see what different shoe styles will look like on their feet before making a purchase. To complete their look, online consumers can even virtually try on different accessories such as sunglasses from Solstice Sunglasses. On the Solstice website, consumers can try on different frames from countless luxury brands to see which shape and style suits their face best.  Thanks to augmented reality technology, online consumers can try on head-to-toe looks without ever leaving home.  Product Previews [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Product-Previews.jpg] PRODUCT PREVIEWS Just like virtual try-on tools, product preview tools allow consumers to “test out” different products before deciding which ones to purchase. But instead of trying these products on, consumers can use product preview tools to visualize products in their real world surroundings.   For example, say a consumer is shopping online for a new sofa from Ikea. The consumer likes a specific Ikea sofa, but isn’t sure what it will look like in their living room. Furthermore, they aren’t sure if the sofa is even the right size or shape for their living room layout.  This consumer can open the Ikea Place app, which is powered by augmented reality technology, to project a digital model of the couch into their living room. The digital model is an exact replica of the couch, so the consumer can see if the couch is the right size and how it complements the rest of their furniture. Ikea isn’t the only retailer that has used augmented reality in this manner. Other retailers, including Home Depot, Wayfair, Target, and Amazon, also offer product preview tools to consumers who are shopping online.  GAMES Both augmented and virtual reality technology are associated with the gaming industry, so it’s not surprising that some retailers have used these technologies to build entertaining games for consumers. Burberry, a British luxury fashion house, launched an augmented reality app that allows consumers to build their own digital sculptures. Consumers can choose from a wide selection of Burberry prints, patterns, and shapes to create their own custom virtual sculpture. Burberry also created a multiplayer arcade game, B Surf, where players can compete to unlock digital rewards, including an augmented reality character and face filter. Aircoins is an augmented reality app that is designed to increase foot traffic at brick-and-mortar retailers. Just like Pokemon Go, the app instructs players to walk around searching for three-dimensional objects in their real world. However, this app is designed specifically for consumers who are walking around shopping centers. Instead of Pokemon characters, Aircoin players are looking for coins, which they can collect to redeem rewards such as discounts or special offers from retailers within the shopping center. This app encourages consumers to visit local shopping centers by offering incentives, which can drive traffic to brick-and-mortar retailers.  VIRTUAL MERCHANDISE A number of retailers are using virtual and augmented reality technologies to create and sell virtual merchandise to consumers.  Louis Vuitton, for instance, sells digital clothing and accessories that can be used to dress virtual characters in League of Legends, an esports game.  Gucci is another luxury fashion label that has launched virtual merchandise. The company created the Gucci Virtual 25, a line of products that included an exclusively digital athletic shoe. Because the shoe was a digital design, consumers couldn’t actually wear it, but they could put it on their virtual avatars in Roblox, VRChat, and other apps. In the art world, artist Brian Donnelly, also known as KAWS, introduced an augmented reality art exhibition called “Expanded Holiday.” The exhibition featured augmented reality sculptures that were available for consumers to rent or purchase. These consumers were paying to rent or purchase a digital sculpture, not a physical art piece. PRODUCT TUTORIALS Some retailers are using augmented and virtual reality technology to create unique product tutorials for consumers.  Lowe’s used virtual reality to build its Holoroom Test Drive in-store experience. To participate, consumers must put on an HTC Vive virtual reality headset and hold onto a specially designed controller. The headset will transport consumers to a simulated environment created by Lowe’s where they can learn how to use and test out specific products.  For example, the Holoroom Test Drive experience allowed consumers to test out cordless hedge trimmers. Inside the virtual environment, consumers would be given helpful tips on how to use the product. This gave consumers the opportunity to learn how to use and test out a potentially dangerous product in a safe, virtual environment.  After the experience is over, consumers can take what they’ve learned and apply it to the real world to avoid making dangerous mistakes while using power tools and other equipment. How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Employee-Training.jpg] EMPLOYEE TRAINING Retailers are also using virtual reality technology to train new employees. Instead of training in-person, employees are trained in a virtual retail environment. In this environment, retail workers can learn how to handle difficult customers, emergency situations, and other scenarios that they may encounter while on the job.  This type of training helps new employees build their confidence so they are fully prepared to handle whatever comes their way once they are out on the sales floor. It also helps them develop crucial interpersonal skills that they will need to achieve success in their role. Because it takes place in a virtual environment, the training won’t interfere with the retailer’s business operations. This means customers won’t have to be patient with new employees who are still learning the ropes. It also allows retailers to train large groups of employees at once, which is difficult to do when conducting in-person training sessions.  VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS Some retailers are using augmented and virtual reality technology to build virtual showrooms for consumers.  In the automotive industry, for example, many auto retailers now allow consumers to visit virtual showrooms using their smartphone or computer. Inside these showrooms, consumers can explore different vehicles just like they would if they were in a real showroom. They can see the vehicle from different angles, examine the exterior, and open the door to inspect the interior.  Consumers can use this experience to learn about different models, compare vehicles, and decide which one they want to purchase without ever stepping foot outside of their home. Thanks to virtual showrooms, consumers only have to visit a dealership when they are ready to purchase a vehicle. This simplifies the process of buying a new car and meets the needs of consumers who want to move as much of the car buying process online as possible. THE BENEFITS OF USING AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY IN RETAIL Both retailers and consumers benefit from the use of augmented and virtual reality technology. Some of the many benefits include: * Improve the Shopping Experience * Reduce Product Returns * Increase Conversions How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Improve-the-Shopping-Experience.jpg] IMPROVE THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE The internet dramatically reshaped the retail industry. Brick-and-mortar stores began to suffer, whereas e-commerce stores thrived in the new digital world. This transformation was underway long before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred.  However, IBM’s 2020 Retail Index report revealed that the pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping by about five years. In other words, online shopping exploded in popularity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this growth in e-commerce, it’s important for retailers to focus on enhancing the online shopping experience. One way to do this is by incorporating augmented and virtual reality technology. According to Nielsen, consumers want the opportunity to use virtual and augmented reality technologies to make their everyday lives easier and more convenient. Over half of consumers surveyed by Nielsen also said they would like to use these technologies to evaluate different products. To meet this demand, retailers must use augmented and virtual reality technologies to improve the online shopping experience for consumers.  REDUCE PRODUCT RETURNS Using augmented reality and virtual reality technologies can help consumers make more informed purchase decisions. This benefits consumers by increasing their satisfaction with their purchases, but it also benefits retailers by reducing product returns.  In the past, consumers didn’t have access to tools that allowed them to virtually try on or preview products before purchasing them online. Consumers who were shopping for cosmetics online, for example, may have chosen the wrong shade of foundation or an unflattering shade of lipstick. As a result, many online purchases were returned to retailers. But now, consumers can use augmented and virtual reality technologies to test out their options and choose the right product when shopping online. These technologies have given consumers the power to shop with confidence online. How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Increase-Conversions.jpg] INCREASE CONVERSIONS A conversion rate is a metric that measures the percentage of visitors to a retail store that actually make a purchase. Every retailer strives to increase their conversion rate and generate more sales. In the past, retailers often invested heavily in digital marketing and SEO campaigns to increase conversion rates. But now, they may need to incorporate augmented reality and virtual reality into the mix in order to get the results they desire. Research shows that retailers can improve their conversion rates simply by using augmented and virtual reality technology. Some studies show that these technologies can increase conversion rates by anywhere from 10 to 200%. According to Shopify data, products with augmented reality content have a 94% higher conversion rate than products without this content.  Based on these statistics, it’s clear that retailers can greatly benefit from taking advantage of augmented and virtual reality technology. How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Transforming Retail [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/How-Retailers-Can-Start-Using-Augmented-and-Virtual-Reality-Technologies.jpg] HOW RETAILERS CAN START USING AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGIES It’s not too late for retailers to start using augmented reality and virtual reality technology. The first step retailers must take is defining their business objectives and goals. Retailers need to determine what they would like to accomplish by using augmented reality and virtual reality technology. The next step is identifying the right tools to implement their augmented and virtual reality strategy. The main challenge that retailers will face when implementing these technologies is the development of new software. Retailers may need to invest heavily in this strategy in order to develop software designed solely for their consumers. This might explain why Goldman Sachs predicts that the augmented reality/virtual reality software market will grow to $1.6 billion by 2025. Once the tools have been built and tested, retailers need to launch effective marketing campaigns to introduce them to consumers. Retailers can create instructional videos that show consumers how to use the new tools and feature them prominently on their websites. This ensures that all website visitors know about the tools and more importantly, how to use them.

What’s Cooking in Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs?

What’s Cooking in Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs?

July 12, 2021

Back in March, Wired marked the five-year anniversary of the Oculus Rift headset with an in-depth article focused on Facebook’s virtual journey. The social media giant is a major player in the extended reality industry, but Google, Microsoft, Snap and Apple all have their own unique augmented and virtual experiences and product offerings. In the tech industry, however, innovation is everything…and tech evolves quickly. Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs is tasked for developing and researching new ideas for virtual and augmented reality. Of course, what’s cooking in Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs might be the ultimate secret recipe. What’s Cooking in Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/What-is-Virtual-Reality-Labs.jpg] WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY LABS? The Verge cited a study that noted that about one fifth of Facebook’s employee base is focused on virtual reality. Per The Verge, about 10,000 employees are part of Virtual Reality Labs. Facebook’s research labs focused on all things extended reality. While Facebook has created one of the most affordable virtual reality headsets on the market, the company’s team of developers is obviously not simply sitting around content with stopping with Oculus. So what, exactly, is Facebook creating in Virtual Reality Labs? Exact projects might be known to only employees, but, according to Facebook, “…We are developing all the technologies needed to enable breakthrough AR glasses and VR headsets, including optics and displays, computer vision, audio, graphics, brain-computer interface, haptic interaction, eye/hand/face/body tracking, perception science, and true telepresence. Some of those will advance much faster than others, but they all need to happen to enable AR and VR that are so compelling that they become an integral part of our lives, and we are making all of them happen.” Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs also offers a comprehensive news section with articles and updates about current research. Check out some of the augmented and virtual reality experiences that could transform technology in the future. Keep in mind that all these potential experiences are just research…they are not hitting the market! What’s Cooking in Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/An-Augmented-Reality-Hearing-Aid.jpg] AN AUGMENTED REALITY HEARING AID Could augmented reality integrate into a hearing aid? This could be a possibility in the future. The journal Ear and Hearing published an article from researchers at Facebook Reality Labs Research. The article describes potential scenarios and how augmented reality could aid those who suffer from hearing loss. Essentially hearing aids could work with other devices, perhaps even augmented reality glasses. While it doesn’t seem like the hearing aids would project any augmented reality experiences, the paper explores ways that augmented reality could work with hearing aids for more control of environments (like noisy parties). The paper also details how glasses could provide text for conversations. Perhaps this could be a technologically advanced closed captioning. While augmented reality advancements and connectivity with hearing aids isn’t currently a reality, the potential for this technology could provide greater support for those with hearing impairment. LIGHTWEIGHT VIRTUAL REALITY GLASSES Could those bulky heavy headsets disappear in the future? While Oculus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Facebook is looking at other ways to make the virtual reality experience sleeker. One of the Virtual Labs’ news stories focuses on lightweight virtual reality glasses that use holographic optics. The prototype that is shown looks like sunglasses. The glasses are a huge change from the headset. Facebook notes that it’s currently working on full color graphics for one of the smaller prototypes.   AN AUGMENTED REALITY BRACELET Fitness trackers and smart watches are nothing new, but Facebook is researching how to integrate augmented reality into a wrist-based device. The focus on the wrist was noted as this placement is comfortable and provides easy interaction. So how would the wrist device work? Electromyography deciphers ‘nerve signals’ into commands that then control the device. And the wristband or bracelet would work with augmented reality glasses! “We believe our wristband wearables may offer a path to ultra-low-friction, always-available input for AR glasses, but they’re not a complete solution on their own — just as the mouse is one piece of the graphical user interface, ”said Hrvoje Benko, research director for Facebook’s Research Labs on Facebook’s tech site “They need to be assisted with intent prediction and user modeling that adapts to you and your particular context in real time.” THE AUGMENTED REALITY SMARTWATCH The BBC recently reported on a possible Facebook augmented reality smartwatch. But this could be just another tech rumor, and consumers might not want to get too excited. The BBC quoted an executive for the company who noted that “We’re investing in technologies across the board… research doesn’t always lead to product development.” The BBC’s story cited a story from The Verge, which noted that the product could launch next summer. The Verge detailed that the watch would have two cameras that can even be detached from the watch. So what are the augmented reality features of the watch? According to the BBC the device would control future augmented reality glasses. Could the watch be wearable wrist tech? Until Facebook announces anything official about the possible watch, consumers might just be left speculating…and waiting excitedly for a new launch. FACEBOOK’S OFFERINGS NOW While Virtual Reality Labs is constantly working on new research and looking at ways to advance augmented and virtual reality, Facebook also has new tech offerings that will soon be available to the public. And Facebook’s Spark AR Studio is expanding into augmented reality for video calls! FACEBOOK X RAY-BAN In a partnership with luxury sunglass manufacturer EssilorLuxottica, sleek chic new smart glasses will soon be available to the public under EssilorLuxottica’s Ray-Ban brand. Unfortunately, there are no firm details about the tech that will be offered via the Facebook x Ray-Ban glasses. However, Facebook did tell The Verge that augmented reality will not be a feature of the eyewear. Even the design style of the glasses is a bit of a mystery. While a video launched on YouTube teasing the glasses, a photo of the product wasn’t shown. Will the glasses favor Ray-Ban’s popular Wayfarer style? Will there be numerous color choices? Consumers will simply have to wait for the official launch to find out! SPARK AR FOR VIDEO CALLS Augmented reality for video calls could be a reality. And Facebook is looking for participants to try out the Beta version of the tech. Unfortunately, those who want to sign up to try out this new experience are limited to “qualified creators and developers.” Those who are accepted to try out this new Spark tech can explore augmented reality graphics for Facebook Messenger. Facebook explains that the tech will expand to Instagram and Portal as well.   What’s Cooking in Facebook’s Virtual Reality Labs? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Whats-Next-for-Augmented-and-Virtual-Reality.jpg] WHAT’S NEXT FOR AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY? Technology constantly and consistently changes and updates for the changing needs of the consumer. Augmented and virtual reality products, however, could be the future. Facebook and other tech players in the industry are constantly innovating. Facebook’s research could predict the future of what extended reality could deliver to the masses. Hearing aids that could communicate with augmented reality glasses could change the way that those with hearing impairments listen to the world. Augmented reality could provide them with better control and a more comfortable environment. Wrist-based devices could point to a more advanced smartwatch or other wrist device that is engineered to interact, once again, with augmented reality glasses. The device’s features and capabilities could include electromyography, as Facebook is currently exploring. However, different companies might introduce and create unique wrist-based devices. However, the future of what tech holds rapidly changes. While speculation could eye a wrist device, the future could include the launch of something entirely and uniquely different. As research continues, some products could prove to be unsuccessful or research findings could take developers and engineers into an entirely new and different direction. There is always buzz about some new product. Speculation about Apple, Facebook and other tech companies and their possible launches hits the news. Consumers begin to anticipate possible arrivals. However, until companies make their official announcement…speculation is only speculation. What’s next for Facebook could be augmented reality glasses. Or a wrist device. But, really, only those on the inside of product development know for sure what new gadget awaits the ever-anticipatory public. Until the next big announcement and the next latest greatest device is announced, consumers can look forward to the final unveiling of a product that has been officially announced. Those craving a new device, a new product may soon be able to wear a new pair of Ray-Bans, courtesy of Facebook. Of course, what consumers can see through those lenses is still a mystery. While no augmented reality experiences will appear to those who wear the glasses, there may be cool features beyond the sleek design of new frames. Will those new Ray-Bans link to Facebook somehow? Or instagram? Will they allow users to dictate posts? We’ll soon find out!

Google’s Floom Lets You See Other Side of the Planet

Google’s Floom Lets You See Other Side of the Planet

May 14, 2021

Google has launched a new augmented reality experience called Floom that allows the user to actually create a tunnel (or portal, as Floom looks a bit like a swirling cloud) and peek on the other side. Using the augmented reality tool, users become sort of like virtual explorers. There’s only one downfall, though: Floom is only compatible with Android devices. Consumers clinging to an Apple device won’t be drilling via Floom. Since Android is a Google device, though, there shouldn’t be any sense of surprise that Apple devices aren’t yet welcome. Those lucky enough to experience Floom have more adventures awaiting them. Ready to drill through the Earth? Here’s what you can discover with Floom. google floom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Traveling-to-the-Other-Side.jpg] TRAVELING TO THE OTHER SIDE Floom is incredibly creative in its adventure potential. Users don’t have only one way to dig through the Earth. In fact, the tunnel or hole you dig depends on how the phone is held. Tunnels or holes can angle in a different direction, and Google explains that in this way users can explore different areas with Floom. This is where the experience gets really interesting. While one hole may lead the user into an ocean, another could place you on top of a mountain. Then it’s time to explore the area. Once the user discovers their location, they can explore it on Google Earth. A writer for The Verge used Floom and could reach Antarctica, New Zealand and the Middle East at home. The potential to discover different parts of the world can be seemingly endless; imagine using Floom on vacation or in a different state. Every different location creates a unique experience. HOW IS FLOOM AUGMENTED REALITY? Floom uses WebXR, which includes augmented reality. The term ‘XR’ is typically a reference to extended reality, encompassing both augmented reality and virtual reality. Floom is considered augmented reality as users draw a hole (or tunnel) in their real world location. This could be on the carpet, on the kitchen tile…anywhere! The hole isn’t actually there, but graphic overlays provide the augmented experience of a tunnel. Once the user draws the tunnel, the vision of the real world environment on the other side of the Earth is shown. So Floom includes an augmented reality tunnel that leads to an augmented reality projection of another real world location. Confused, yet? Like most augmented reality experiences, Floom doesn’t require any special headsets or goggles. Augmented reality typically uses the camera from a phone or other mobile device to produce the graphics overlays on top of the real environment. GOOGLE IS ON A ROLL WITH AUGMENTED REALITY Since Floom is only compatible with Android devices, not everyone will have access to the experience. The bad news? Floom isn’t the only cool augmented reality experience created by Google for Android. There are actually several augmented reality experiences that can be enjoyed at home or anywhere…if and when the mood strikes. Check out these cool augmented reality experiences from Google: MEASURE UP If you’re curious about the volume of the empty coffee mug sitting on your desk, Google has you covered. Measure Up allows users to measure anything around you. Yes, Measure Up will even calculate volume. Just don’t share the experience with a middle schooler who desperately needs to learn how to calculate volume the old fashioned way! How does this experience work? With Measure Up, users can actually draw three-dimensional shapes around an object to gain the measurement. SODAR Sodar is the social distancing app for experience. We’re still living with a pandemic, and safety is a must. Sodar can be used to check social distancing guidelines. Google explains that the experience actually draws a ring around the user—the ring is two meters! Just be sure to stay in the ring! PICTURESCAPE This experience isn’t yet completed, per Google. But it’s going to be something that those with access will likely really enjoy. Picturescape will take the user’s photo library and turn them into augmented reality. You can explore your photos in augmented reality! AR FUN FOR USERS WHO DON’T HAVE AN ANDROID DEVICE Google’s immersive experiences are incredibly unique…and really cool. For those lacking an Android device, though, all hope is not lost. There are other ways to explore an augmented world using an Apple phone or table. Unfortunately, though, Apple users can’t yet tunnel through the Earth. So what’s available from the App Store? Here are some augmented reality experiences available on the App Store (some also might be available via Google Play, too): PORTALS: LEARNING WITH AR Instead of digging a tunnel through the Earth, Portals lets you open up portals to different lands or scenes. The augmented reality app is fairly immersive; users step into the portal and can virtually explore their new environment. Choose from different environments; portals also come in different designs. STACK AR Stack AR is an augmented reality stacking game. The blocks or playing pieces appear in the real world…on whatever surface the user chooses. INKHUNTER Want to get a tattoo but are afraid of the commitment? Get an augmented reality tattoo via INKHUNTER. Choose from many different designs and get inked! The app also might help you visualize what that dream tattoo might look like. AR SPIDERS AR Spider lets users place a spider anywhere. What’s the fun of this? Apparently the app states you can start stomping on the ground and freak out your friends. APPLE’S MEASURE Most iPhones or Apple devices include a measuring tool. This actually uses augmented reality as a graphic ruler to help you measure anything anywhere. google floom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Other-Ways-to-Experience-Augmented-Reality.jpg] OTHER WAYS TO EXPERIENCE AUGMENTED REALITY While tech companies are constantly introducing new products and experiences for users (like augmented reality or virtual reality), companies also have embraced the use of augmented and virtual reality to enhance the user experience. For those interested in exploring different augmented reality experiences, look no further than your favorite stores: IKEA PLACE Download IKEA place and start redecorating your home. Users can place IKEA products in a room in your home with the aid of augmented reality. This is a great way to preview a new rug, sofa and more. SEPHORA Sephora’s Virtual Artist lets you try on different cosmetics, thanks to augmented reality. Stop guessing what lipstick hue will flatter your complexion! The app doesn’t require a picture, instead it scans the face and applies the product (virtually, of course). ULTA GLAMlab is Ulta’s augmented reality experience. On Ulta’s website GLAMlab allows users to choose a face that closely matches their own to try on products. However, the Ulta app may be much more immersive. SHERWIN-WILLIAMS Not sure what paint hue will look best in the bedroom? Painting the room without actually painting the room with Sherwin-Williams’ ColorSnap Visualizer has multiple options. With iPads, users can paint their walls any hue they choose (take a picture of the room, and augmented reality does the rest). For Android and Apple phones, the ColorSnap Visualizer actually identifies colors from anywhere and matches them to a paint hue. HOME DEPOT Preview a new oven or refrigerator in the home with augmented reality from Home Depot. Just scan the room, and start previewing your product. Download the app for the experience. WARBY PARKER Shopping for new eyeglasses can be so frustrating, especially when shopping online. Will the frames look good? Are they flattering? Stop guessing. Warby Parker’s app lets users try on frames virtually to find the best look. MAGNOLIA MARKET Chip and Joanna Gaines are utilizing augmented reality, too! The Magnolia Market app lets users place different items in their home using augmented reality. Sorry, though, the app might not let users preview shiplap on their walls.   RELAYCARS Looking for a new car but don’t want to visit a dealership? Pictures only can give shoppers so much information. RelayCars offers both a virtual and augmented reality showroom where shoppers can preview new car models. With the augmented reality app, users actually drop the car into their environment. Walk around the vehicle and look inside; the app also allows the paint hue to be swapped out. The virtual reality app allows users to preview cars in a virtual environment; the experience can be viewed with or without a headset. While Android users might have a blast trying out the new Floom augmented reality experience (and other Google drops), there are many augmented reality experiences that can be downloaded to other devices, too. For those interested in exploring all that augmented reality has to offer, a quick search via Google Play or the App Store brings up a list of choices. And don’t forget to explore augmented reality experiences when you’re shopping. Many stores offer these unique experiences, and it’s fun to try out all the different options!

COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution

COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution

May 12, 2021

Over the course of history, there have been three industrial revolutions that completely transformed society. The first, which began in the 1700s, was sparked by the invention of the steam engine, which was used to mechanize production. The second took place in the late 1800s and was defined by the emergence of electric power, which was used for mass production. The third industrial revolution occurred as a result of the introduction of digital technologies and the internet. Each of these industrial revolutions has left its mark on society. Now, experts believe that a fourth industrial revolution is right around the corner, and it’s largely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts predict that this revolution will be driven by the widespread adoption of two new technologies: augmented reality and virtual reality. WHAT ARE AUGMENTED REALITY AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGIES? It’s important to have a basic understanding of augmented and virtual reality technology before learning how they could spur the next industrial revolution. Augmented and virtual reality are two types of extended reality technologies, which are technologies used to enhance the senses. But the two technologies provide very different experiences. Virtual reality technology transports users to simulated worlds where they can move around and interact with their surroundings. This technology blocks out the real world so users can completely immerse themselves in the simulated environment. Users typically need a virtual reality headset such as an Oculus or HTC Vive to experience virtual reality technology. Augmented reality, on the other hand, does not completely block out the real world. Instead, it combines elements of the digital world with the user’s real world. It allows users to superimpose digital elements such as images, videos, and sounds onto their real world environment. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality typically does not require the use of a special headset.  COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/COVID-19-Pandemic.jpg] HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC CHANGED THE WAY PEOPLE WORK The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of day-to-day life, including the way people work. Many offices and workplaces were forced to temporarily close as a result of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. This left employers with no other choice but to let their employees work remotely until they could return to the workplace.  Prior to the pandemic, only one in five employees worked from home some or all of the time. But now, 71% of workers are working from home all or most of the time.  Although the coronavirus pandemic will eventually come to an end, many people hope that remote working is here to stay. In fact, more than half of the workforce hopes that they can continue to work remotely once the pandemic has been resolved.  Remote work benefits both employees and employers. It provides employees with flexibility and gives employers the chance to save money on operating costs. Because it is a win-win situation, many employers may be happy to let their employees continue working from home in the future.  This shift to remote work could completely transform the business world and increase demand for augmented and virtual reality technology. COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/image.jpeg]Focused young businessman in eyewear wearing headphones, holding video call with clients on laptop. Concentrated millennial man in glasses giving online educational class lecture, consulting customer. HOW AUGMENTED REALITY AND VIRTUAL REALITY COULD MAKE REMOTE WORK EASIER It was easy for some people to start working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. But shifting to remote work was impossible for other people who work in the field, one-on-one with customers or patients, or in industrial occupations. Performing their job duties remotely was not a possibility in the past.  But now, augmented and virtual reality can help people in these professions perform their work from any location. Not only will this change the way people work, but it could also change the way in which businesses operate, leading to a massive industrial revolution.   THE INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS OF AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY There are many different industrial applications of augmented and virtual reality technologies, including: * Virtual/Interactive Demos * Training * Remote Support * Remote Meetings and Conferences * Product Design VIRTUAL/INTERACTIVE DEMOS Businesses can now provide virtual, interactive demos to consumers and third party partners using virtual reality technology. This gives consumers and third party partners the opportunity to test out new products without ever seeing it in person. The experience will be just like an in-person demo with one exception: it will take place in a simulated environment. TRAINING Both augmented and virtual reality technology have revolutionized the way in which businesses and schools train their employees and students. For example, aspiring surgeons and nurses practice everything from needle placement to neurosurgery on augmented reality models. This allows them to practice in a safe environment where mistakes will not have serious consequences. Augmented and virtual reality technologies are also used to train employees in the automotive industry. Some assembly line workers are now trained on how to put together different parts of a vehicle in a simulated environment. Pilots train in a simulated environment created by virtual reality technology, too. This gives pilots the opportunity to practice what they would do in certain emergency situations.  These technologies have even been embraced by law enforcement agencies, who use it to train personnel on how to make good judgment calls in stressful simulated situations.  All of these training sessions can take place remotely, which is a major change that the new industrial revolution will bring. REMOTE SUPPORT In the past, it was impossible to provide certain types of support to employees or customers from afar. For instance, an automotive technician typically cannot diagnose an issue with a customer’s car without inspecting the car in-person. An IT professional usually cannot help an employee troubleshoot an issue without running diagnostic tests on the computer in-person. But augmented reality technology makes it possible to provide remote support in situations like these. For example, if a customer has a problem with their vehicle, they can get remote support from an experienced automotive technician. The technician can use augmented reality technology to project instructions or highlight certain components of the vehicle into the customer’s field of view. This way, the technician can guide the customer through each step of the process of making simple repairs on their own.  An employee who is having trouble connecting to the company network can now receive remote assistance from an IT support representative. Just like the automotive technician, the IT support representative can guide the employee through the process of addressing their issue. These are just two examples of how augmented reality technology can be used to provide remote assistance to employees and customers.  COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Remote-Meetings-and-Conferences.jpg] REMOTE MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES Remote teams can participate in audio or video conferences using services like Zoom or Skype. But virtual reality technology offers a better way for remote workers to meet and collaborate with one another. Remote workers can use virtual reality technology to attend virtual meetings and conferences with their co-workers. This technology can transport them to a simulated conference or meeting room where they will be able to see their virtual co-workers, write on a virtual markerboard, and sit at a virtual conference table.  This technology will make them feel as if they are actually in the same physical location as their co-workers, so it can satisfy their need for face-to-face time. It will also create a welcoming environment where remote workers may feel more comfortable sharing ideas, voicing concerns, and working together just as they would in a real office. PRODUCT DESIGN Thanks to virtual reality technology, engineers can remotely collaborate on the design of new products. In the automotive industry, for example, some manufacturers are now building virtual models of new designs instead of creating clay prototypes. Every member of the design team can access and make changes to the virtual model. As a result, an engineering team can create and finalize a design without ever touching a physical model of the vehicle or being in the same room with one another. Being able to remotely collaborate on virtual models isn’t the only benefit of using virtual reality technology to design new products. Building a virtual model is far less expensive than building multiple clay prototypes. It also allows the engineering team to make changes more quickly so they can finalize the design and get the product in the market as soon as possible. COVID Has Moved Us Closer to An Industrial AR and VR Revolution [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Virtual-Reality-Industrial-Revolution.jpg] HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Businesses must start preparing for the upcoming augmented and virtual reality industrial revolution. Here’s how: * Budget accordingly. Businesses may need to invest in headsets or other extended reality accessories for their employees. Each headset should cost about the same as a laptop, so it’s important to factor this into budgets over the next several years. * Find the right team. Businesses may need to hire programmers with experience building augmented and virtual reality platforms. These programmers can ensure your augmented and virtual reality platform is designed with all of the unique features you need to reach your business goals. * Expect a learning curve. It’s not hard to use augmented and virtual reality technology, but businesses should still be prepared to provide training to employees. Some employees may catch on faster than others, so businesses should be prepared to provide additional assistance to employees if necessary. Taking these steps now will ensure your business is ready for the changes that the augmented and virtual reality industrial revolution may bring.

Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market

Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market

March 31, 2021

Virtual reality and augmented reality have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Virtual reality is technology that transports users to a simulated environment where they can explore and interact with their surroundings. Augmented reality, on the other hand, is technology that allows users to project digital elements onto their real world environment. Whereas virtual reality takes a user to a different world, augmented reality simply adds to the user’s existing world. The competition in the virtual and augmented reality market has become more intense as a result of the increased interest in these technologies. So far, the major players in the virtual and augmented reality industry are large tech companies, including Facebook. Facebook entered the market in 2014 when it acquired Oculus, a virtual reality headset manufacturer. The company released its first higher-end virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest, in 2018. The headset was well-received by critics and consumers alike.  Now, Facebook is taking additional steps in an effort to become the leader in the augmented and virtual reality market. The company recently released an updated virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest 2, and revealed plans to develop the first pair of augmented reality glasses. WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE OCULUS QUEST 2 The Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset was released in October 2020. Just like the original Quest device, the Oculus Quest 2 can be used either as a standalone headset or while connected to a PC. At first glance, the Oculus Quest 2 looks very similar to the original Quest. But the Quest 2 has a number of new and exciting features that sets it apart from its predecessor, including: * Lower price. There are two Quest 2 models, each with a different storage capacity and price. The 64-gigabyte Quest 2 costs $299, whereas the 256-gigabyte Quest 2 costs $399. This means consumers can get the 64-gigabyte Quest 2 for less than the cost of the original Quest. * Lighter weight. The Quest 2 is nearly 70 grams lighter than the original Quest, so many consumers may find it more comfortable to wear. * More pixels. The Quest 2 features a high resolution screen that is designed with 50% more pixels than the original model. * Faster processor. The Quest 2 is much faster than the original model due to its upgraded Qualcomm XR2 processor. It also has 6 gigabytes of RAM, compared to only 4 gigabytes on the original model. * Increased storage. The original Quest came with either 64 gigabytes or 128 gigabytes of storage. But the Quest 2 is available with 64 gigabytes or 256 gigabytes of storage.  * Color. The original Quest device is black, but the new Quest 2 is a sleek white color. There are some similarities between the two models as well. Both the Quest and the Quest 2 have an estimated battery life of two to three hours. Each of these models is also designed with four built-in cameras that allow users to freely move around in their simulated environment. Both devices also give consumers access to a wide range of games within the Oculus library. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-Can-You-Do-With-An-Oculus-Quest-2.jpg] WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH AN OCULUS QUEST 2? There are many ways to use an Oculus Quest 2, including: * Play Games * Exercise * Watch Movies and TV * Attend Live Events * Explore Nature * Relive Historic Moments * Hang Out With Other Users * Access A Virtual Desktop PLAY GAMES There are countless virtual games in the Oculus library, including puzzles, multiplayer battle games, shooting games, escape rooms, adventure games, and popular arcade games. Because there are so many games to choose from, there is truly something for everyone to play in the Oculus library. EXERCISE There’s more to the Quest 2 than fun and games. You can also use your Quest 2 device to engage in various types of virtual exercises, including dance, high-intensity workouts, and boxing. You can even burn calories while practicing your golf swing or playing a round of tennis against another virtual user. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways to break a sweat. WATCH MOVIES AND TV Binge watch all of your favorite TV shows and movies using the Oculus Quest 2 device. The movie or TV show will be displayed on a large virtual screen in a cozy virtual theater, which makes it feel like you’re at a real movie theater. You can use the device to access Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other major streaming services. It also connects to YouTube, so you can watch your favorite funny videos within your virtual theater. ATTEND LIVE EVENTS Use the Virtual Venues VR experience in the Oculus library to attend a live concert, comedy special, or sporting event without ever leaving your home. Once you’ve arrived, look around you to see other virtual fans who are attending from all over the world. You can get a front row seat at these live events for a small fee or watch from a box seat, which is positioned further away from the action, for free. EXPLORE NATURE Travel to far off destinations to explore beautiful beaches, tropical jungles, dusty deserts, and underwater oceans using the Quest 2 device. You can even see what it feels like to travel to the top of Mount Everest on the Everest VR experience within the Oculus library. You will be completely immersed in whatever environment you choose, so it will feel as if you are actually there. RELIVE HISTORIC MOMENTS A number of apps within the Oculus library allow you to relive famous historical moments. For example, the Apollo 11 VR experience recreates the historic mission to the moon. You can experience every moment from launch to landing inside the space shuttle with the rest of the crew. HANG OUT WITH OTHER USERS Most virtual reality apps are single-player experiences, but the Rec Room app gives you an opportunity to virtually hang out with friends, family members, or other virtual users from around the world.  What you do inside the rec room is up to you. Some people prefer simply hanging out and chatting with their virtual friends, whereas others like to challenge their guests to fun games such as dodgeball or paintball. ACCESS A VIRTUAL DESKTOP Interact with your desktop computer screen in a virtual world using the Virtual Desktop VR experience. You can connect up to four different computers and switch back and forth between screens in seconds. You can also seamlessly scroll between monitors if you have a multi-monitor configuration.  This app makes it easier–and more fun–than ever before to juggle more than one computer or computer monitor. However, this experience is only compatible with Windows 8.1 or 10.  Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-is-Facebooks-Project-Aria.jpg] WHAT IS FACEBOOK’S PROJECT ARIA? Facebook is already a major player in the virtual reality market, but it could soon be a leader in the augmented reality market as well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that the company is in the process of developing a pair of augmented reality glasses. But first, the company is launching Project Aria, which is a research project that will allow Facebook to gather the data that it needs to perfect the technology for augmented reality glasses. Last year, Facebook announced that they were sending about 100 researchers into the field in Seattle and San Francisco as part of the company’s Project Aria initiative. Each of the researchers will wear a pair of glasses equipped with sensors that will allow them to map their real world environment. The sensors on the Project Aria glasses are designed to capture video and audio footage of the wearer’s immediate surroundings. These sensors will also track the wearer’s eye movement and provide Facebook with location data.   The purpose of this project is to collect a vast amount of data that will help Facebook understand what it will need to build the necessary software and hardware for augmented reality glasses. This project is seen as Facebook’s first major step toward reaching its goal of developing augmented reality glasses. HOW IS FACEBOOK ADDRESSING PRIVACY CONCERNS RELATED TO PROJECT ARIA? Facebook’s decision to send researchers into the real world to gather audio and video footage of their surroundings has raised a number of privacy concerns.  The researchers will be wearing lanyards to identify themselves while out in public. But unless members of the public are familiar with Project Aria, they may not understand what these lanyards mean. This means anyone who is in the same area as one of the Project Aria researchers could be captured on audio or video without their knowledge or consent.  This isn’t the only reason why people are concerned about Project Aria. Many people are also concerned about the possibility that the audio or video footage could contain potentially sensitive information, including license plates. If this data is not properly protected, it could fall into the wrong hands. Facebook has acknowledged the public’s privacy concerns related to Project Aria. But the company has promised to handle all data with care and provide training to researchers to ensure they know how to use the devices responsibly. Facebook is only allowing employees and contractors to participate in Project Aria. Everyone who wears a pair of Project Aria glasses is given specific instructions on when and where to use the device. Researchers are allowed to wear the glasses to collect data in public places, but they cannot collect data in certain public areas, including public restrooms. According to Facebook, researchers will not have access to the data collected by the sensors right away. Instead, the data will enter a three-day quarantine period after it is collected. During this period, sensitive information and identifying facial features will be blurred. This process was put in place to protect the public and ease privacy concerns.  Furthermore, Facebook will encrypt the data before it is uploaded from the devices to a separate storage space. This will make it even harder for non-authorized parties to access the data. Facebook has also promised that the data will not be used to determine what ads people see when using the company’s apps. Instead, the company promises that it is only using the data to assist with the production of augmented reality software and hardware. It’s clear that Facebook has made an effort to address the public’s privacy concerns, but it’s not clear whether the company has done enough to make the public comfortable with Project Aria. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-Are-the-Four-Ethical-Principles-Guiding-Facebooks-Augmented-Reality-Efforts.jpg] WHAT ARE THE FOUR ETHICAL PRINCIPLES GUIDING FACEBOOK’S AUGMENTED REALITY EFFORTS? Facebook released a set of four ethical principles that will guide much of their future work, including Project Aria and other augmented reality efforts. These four ethical principles are: * Being clear about what Facebook products do, which includes outlining how the products should and should not be used. * Putting the user in control of their own experience. * Evaluating the impact that the product has on the user as well as those around the user.  * Striving to meet the needs of both the Facebook business and the community as a whole. If there is ever a conflict between these two interests, Facebook will always do what is best for the community rather than the business. These are solid ethical principles, but many people are still skeptical about whether or not Facebook is committed to adhering by them. WHEN WILL FACEBOOK RELEASE AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES? For years, Zuckerberg has repeated that Facebook is serious about developing augmented reality glasses. But last year, he admitted that developing augmented reality glasses is no small feat. He acknowledged that it may be years before Facebook’s first pair of augmented reality glasses ever hits the market.  However, it is possible that other Facebook products will hit the market in the years leading up to the debut of the company’s augmented reality glasses. In fact, Facebook is expected to release a pair of smart glasses within the next year. Few details have been released so far, but experts believe that the smart glasses will be similar to Snapchat’s Spectacles. Facebook’s actions over the last several years have shown that the company is committed to becoming a leader in virtual and augmented reality. The wait for the world’s first pair of augmented reality glasses is far from over, but for now, there are plenty of other virtual reality and augmented reality products available to consumers.

What is Extended Reality (XR) and How Do We Use It Everyday?

What is Extended Reality (XR) and How Do We Use It Everyday?

March 30, 2021

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality all hold different meanings. Virtual reality includes all graphic components that exist in a separate realm and is often accessed via goggles or other headsets. Augmented reality includes graphic overlays on top of a real-world environment. And mixed reality is a mix of the virtual and augmented realms; users interact with both real and virtual environments. Some consumers might also have seen a term called extended reality (XR). What is extended reality and how do we use it every day? Extended reality is simply the term used to encompass all these technologies—virtual, augmented, and mixed. Extended reality is not a separate technology. Elements of extended reality exist in many facets of our lives. Here’s how we can use extended reality as we go about our day. The incorporation of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality might surprise you! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-to-Display-Art.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY TO DISPLAY ART Not everyone can own a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. For many, rare works of art are out of the budget. Augmented reality might be changing the art world by allowing masterpieces and unique art creations to become accessible to a wider audience. Smithsonian Magazine explored how art was going augmented…and could be enjoyed from home using this technology. Smithsonian reported that artist Jenny Holzer’s work can be displayed in the home via an app. The same article detailed how Serpentine Galleries had to find a safe way to showcase a virtual reality art experience called The Eternal Wave by artist Cao Fei; allowing patrons to don goggles wasn’t an option. An augmented reality experience via phones became the solution. The augmented reality experience could be accessed via an app called Acute Art. The full experience could be accessed in the gallery, but a smaller “sample” could be enjoyed from anywhere. Could augmented reality be the future of how we enjoy art? Both Holzer’s and Fei’s work were either conceptual and/or multimedia and could translate to a tech platform; Holzer’s work includes LED signs. Fei’s exhibit was supposed to be experienced via virtual reality so the augmented reality pivot made sense. Yet, the potential for augmented reality could lead to other uses in the art world. During Covid, museums offered virtual tours of galleries. Some even provided at-home art classes.  Perhaps famous works of art could be enjoyed via augmented reality at home. Art could be enjoyed and experienced in a living room. The home could transform into a gallery. What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Cooking-with-Augmented-Reality.jpg] COOKING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented reality might be ready to invade the kitchen! Yes, you may soon be able to cook up some culinary masterpieces thanks to augmented reality. Zack Johnson and a few fellow peers at Dartmouth used Magic Leap to create an augmented reality cooking experience app called Cook Along. The app required that users wear the Magic Leap during the experience.  The augmented reality experience takes them through every step of the recipe. They see the directions as well as the ingredients. Johnson explained in an article via Forbes that users could even watch someone demonstrate a particular step. If you don’t know how to whisk, maybe this was shown. This helps simplify cooking, especially for those who aren’t masterful in the kitchen. While Johnson noted that the app wasn’t going to be available via Magic Leap, the article included a link to the app. Could apps like Cook Along be the future of cooking? Following a recipe can be frustrating, especially for those who are unsure how to interpret certain directions. A scene in Schitt’s Creek, for example, featured David asking Moira how to fold in the cheese while making enchiladas. Her response? You fold it in! Perhaps cooking apps that utilize augmented reality could show exactly how to fold in the cheese! AUGMENTED REALITY HELPS CONSUMERS PREVIEW RESTAURANTS, TOO While cooking apps could be a future phenomenon, there is an app that lets consumers see the food at restaurants or when ordering online. Not sure if that Chicken Carbonara is really going to be as amazing as the photos? Apps can help visualize the menu via augmented reality food. Could restaurants follow the trend and begin to offer augmented reality experiences of their food? Maybe previewing the menu happens via virtual or augmented reality in the future. Those interested in exploring augmented reality for ordering takeout can do a quick search for these apps via the App Store or Google Play. ESPRESSO MACHINES IN AUGMENTED REALITY Many enjoy a cup of coffee to perk up in the morning. Maybe the pandemic meant more of that coffee was brewed at home. Some may be considering upgrading to a fancy new espresso machine. But how will that machine look in the kitchen? Does it complement the other appliances? The hunt for the perfect espresso or coffee machine doesn’t need to be a mystery thanks to augmented reality. Whole Latte Love offers an augmented reality experience that lets consumers drop those investment machines that brew java magic right into their kitchen. See what model looks best…and fits the space. AUGMENTED REALITY WINE LABELS Pop open a bottle of Phantom Wine and have some fun with augmented reality, too. Wine has gone augmented! According to the Augmented Wine Labels app by the winery, Phantom Wines has been haunted by a presence…the phantom. Using the augmented reality app, the wine label becomes the ticket to a unique experience. Find the phantom and learn about the winery and its history. However, according to Wine Industry Advisor, the augmented reality wine label is becoming quite popular in the industry. The publication notes that hundreds (more than 500!) of wineries have embraced augmented reality and AI; the technology was built by Winerytale. That bottle of merlot now may have more body to it than the depth of the wine. The label may hold the key to a unique augmented reality experience! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-in-the-Car.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE CAR The drive time includes augmented reality, too! Now more than ever, the vehicles consumers drive include high-technology features like augmented reality. Backup cameras not only show the real-world background behind the vehicle, but they also project grid lines detailing the turning radius. This is augmented reality! GPS systems used in vehicles often include augmented reality, too. They may show the real environment while also projecting directions or arrows showing when or where to turn. Some vehicles have these types of augmented reality details built into the car, too. Smart rearview mirrors also include projections of the rear scenes of the car along with other details or data. Cars of the future likely may include even more unique technological features. We could see smart windshields or even self-driving cars. Projections of helpful avatars could enter the vehicle, too. Car manufacturers are working on all types of new technology to improve the driving experience. AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY FOR SHOPPING Many consumers shop online. Stores and businesses are adopting virtual or augmented reality experiences to improve the user experience in commerce. For example, there may be augmented reality features that allow shoppers to preview cosmetic colors or paint hues on walls. With augmented reality, shoppers no longer have to guess about the appearance of a purchase. They can preview those hues or maybe even virtually try on garments. Some apps even let users preview new hairstyles or hair colors. Will that bob haircut flatter the face? Stop guessing and use augmented reality! Even shopping for a new car became an augmented or virtual experience. RelayCars allows users to download either the augmented reality app or the virtual reality app to preview new cars and research their features before heading to a dealership. The augmented reality app lets users drop specific car models anywhere—inside a room or even in the garage or the driveway. The virtual reality app transports users to a virtual showroom. Both apps let users peek inside the vehicle and switch out paint hues. While many parts of the country may be opening back up to more foot traffic, some shoppers may prefer to research their options online. Buying a new car can now include virtual experiences to simplify the shopping process. Use augmented reality or virtual reality to find favorite makes and models, then visit the dealership to view them in person! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-and-the-Smart-Home.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE SMART HOME Augmented reality could control the home in the future. According to an article via As Mag, Hayo is creating a device that will easily control appliances and other tech in the home. The Hayo device (which looks a bit like a small speaker) maps out the room. Using an app for Hayo, homeowners can create buttons to control functions in the home…and the buttons can be anywhere! Touching the couch cushion could turn on the coffee maker…or whatever the Hayo controls. The app apparently lets users control where they place ‘virtual buttons.’ While smart home technology has usually been controlled via a handheld device like a smartphone or a tablet, Hayo might simplify typical functions in the home and users won’t have to be tethered to their devices. There are so many ways that augmented and virtual reality mix into everyday life. And all these technological features in our homes, cars and within user experiences online make up extended reality. The advancement of tech know-how may mean that virtual and augmented reality will continue to creep into our daily routine. One day, we all may be wearing glasses to see the virtual and augmented world around us!

10 Ways to Create Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences

10 Ways to Create Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences

March 3, 2021

Virtual reality and augmented reality are two of the most game-changing technologies in existence. Virtual reality is technology that transports users to a simulated environment, whereas augmented reality is technology that allows users to superimpose digital elements onto their real world environment. To put it simply, virtual reality replaces your current reality with a simulated one, but augmented reality simply adds to your current reality. Many people associate these technologies with gaming, but both augmented and virtual reality have been widely used outside of the gaming world, including in the e-commerce, real estate, automotive, education, and healthcare industries. As these technologies continue to grow in popularity, more people may become interested in creating their own virtual or augmented reality experiences. Some people may want to create their own experience to benefit their business, whereas others may want to do it for their own personal enjoyment.  Either way, there are plenty of tools that make it easier than ever before to explore and create with augmented and virtual reality. Here are some of the best options: APPLE ARKIT AND REALITYKIT Apple has two tools that are available to anyone who is interested in creating augmented reality experiences: ARKit and RealityKit. ARKit is a software development tool that allows you to build augmented reality apps compatible with iOS devices.  Apple’s ARKit has a number of exciting features for augmented reality developers, including: * Location anchors: This allows developers to create apps that provide users with different augmented reality experiences for specific locations. For example, an app may launch a unique experience whenever it detects that a user is at the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty. * Front face-tracking capabilities: Apple’s face-tracking technology now works on the front-facing camera, so developers can build apps that allow users to enjoy augmented reality experiences when using the front-facing camera.  * Instant placement: Newer Apple devices are built with LiDAR scanners, which are capable of detecting planes at an incredibly fast pace. Thanks to this technology, users no longer need to use their devices to scan their real world environment before engaging in an augmented reality experience. Now, augmented reality objects are instantly placed in a user’s real world environment. No scanning is required. * Occlusion: This feature makes the augmented reality experience more realistic by enabling augmented reality objects to pass behind and in front of objects in the user’s real world environment. RealityKit is a tool that you can use to create high-quality augmented reality content for your app. In other words, you can use ARKit to build the augmented reality app itself and RealityKit to build production-quality augmented reality content for the app.  Take your augmented reality app to the next level by using RealityKit to: * Place audio files into the user’s real world environment. * Animate augmented reality objects. * Build augmented reality objects using a wide variety of meshes, materials, and textures. * Enable group experiences, so users can share augmented reality experiences with friends and family. Together, these tools have been used to create thousands of different augmented reality apps that are available for download in the Apple App Store. Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/image-6.jpeg] GOOGLE AR CORE Similar to Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore is a platform that provides developers with the tools they need to build augmented reality apps. Even though this platform was designed by Google, it can be used to create augmented reality apps for both Android and iOS devices. Some of the many features that developers can take advantage of on the ARCore platform include: * Environmental HDR: This feature extends the lighting from the user’s real world environment onto virtual objects to make the entire augmented reality experience more realistic and lifelike. * Cloud anchors: This feature enables multi-user augmented reality experiences, so users can experience augmented reality together. * Environmental understanding: Devices use this technology to detect horizontal and vertical surfaces and planes in the user’s environment.   Anyone can download the Google ARCore Software Development Kit (SDK) to start building their own augmented reality apps. The platform even provides augmented reality design guidelines which developers can follow to create a compelling, user-friendly experience for users. OVERLY APP In the past, creating a custom augmented reality experience may have cost thousands of dollars. But the process of building augmented reality experiences has become far more accessible and inexpensive thanks to apps like Overly. The app was designed with small- and medium-sized businesses in mind, but individuals can also use Overly to create their own augmented reality experience. Here’s how it works: 1. Upload a trigger image to the Overly app. This is the image that users must scan in order to see your augmented reality content in the Overly app. This photo must be unique to ensure no one else has already used it on Overly. 2. Upload the augmented reality content that you want to appear whenever your trigger image is scanned. You can upload a video, three-dimensional model, or animation.  3. Publish your augmented reality experience on the Overly app. That’s all it takes to bring your augmented reality vision to life using this innovative app. ADOBE AERO Adobe Aero is a platform that allows designers and developers to build unique augmented reality experiences on their smartphones or desktop computers.  This platform is incredibly user-friendly, so you don’t need to know the first thing about coding or software development to use it. If you aren’t sure where to begin, simply visit the homepage and watch the interactive step-by-step tour to learn more about how to use the platform.  The best part about Adobe Aero is that it can be used with other Adobe products. Adobe Aero allows you to build augmented reality experiences using two-dimensional images from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator or three-dimensional digital elements from Adobe Dimension or Adobe Substance.  Being able to import your own creative assets gives you the opportunity to create something truly unique and special. But if you are exploring augmented reality for the first time, you may not have any assets of your own to import. In this case, you also have the option of importing creative assets from Adobe’s stock library or select third-party apps. Anything you create within Adobe Aero can easily be shared via a link or social media. This allows you to show off your latest creation to your loved ones or send a link to a key stakeholder for their review.  Many people use this tool to create augmented reality experiences for business purposes. If you have already built an app for your business, you have the option of exporting your augmented reality experience directly into the app once it’s done. Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/image-7.jpeg] COSPACES EDU CoSpaces EDU is a kid-friendly tool that has been embraced by teachers around the world. This tool can be used in a number of different ways. First, teachers can use CoSpaces EDU to help students understand difficult topics. The tool uses virtual reality technology to give kids the opportunity to explore art galleries, exhibitions, and classic stories in a new and exciting way. Using virtual reality to introduce these topics will keep kids engaged and interested in the curriculum. Using this tool, kids can also choose from a wide variety of environments, objects, characters, and other digital elements to build their own virtual reality experience. They can even upload their own images, videos, and sounds to customize their new virtual world. If they really want to go the extra mile, they can even record their own voiceover to play inside their virtual world. CoSpaces EDU also enhances the educational experience by allowing students to project augmented reality content into their real world environment. For example, students in a biology class may project a digital model of the human brain into the classroom. This way, they can physically interact with the subject matter instead of just reading about it in a textbook. The CoSpaces EDU platform makes the learning experience more fun for students—and makes life easier for teachers, too! DEVAR Augmented reality technology can be used in many ways, including to enhance the storytelling experience. Devar is an innovative platform that uses augmented reality technology to bring kids’ stories to life. For example, say your child wants to read a book from the My Little Pony series. Instead of simply reading the text and looking at the pictures, your child can bring the story to life using the Devar augmented reality platform.  Your child can project digital versions of their favorite characters from the My Little Pony book directly onto their real world environment. They can even interact with these characters while they continue reading the story. This platform makes reading more enjoyable for kids of all ages. It can also be used to help kids grasp more difficult topics in educational books. For instance, kids can use the Devar platform to bring a book on the solar system to life. Being able to visualize each of the planets, their rotations around the sun, and other details could help kids better understand this complex subject matter. THYNG APP Thyng is an app that is designed to help businesses and individuals create custom augmented reality experiences. Users can customize their augmented reality experience by adding digital objects available through the app or uploading their own videos or photos. After adding the objects to your augmented reality scene, you can adjust their size or modify the lighting until you create the look you desire. Once your creation is complete, the app allows you to take pictures or videos of your masterpiece so you can share it with your friends or family. There are many apps out there that allow users to create augmented reality experiences, but few that can compare to Thyng. The Thyng app sets itself apart from its competitors by allowing users to create digital versions of themselves that they can add to their augmented reality experience. This gives you the opportunity to see yourself do things that you wouldn’t be able to do in the real world, such as slam-dunking a basketball, doing acrobatics, or even flying. Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/image-8.jpeg] MERGE EDU Merge EDU is a teaching aid that is designed specifically for students studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).  These subjects are difficult to learn without the use of physical models and objects. For instance, students may find it hard to learn about the composition of igneous rocks just by reading about it in a textbook. But they may quickly grasp this concept if there is a physical model of an igneous rock in the classroom that they can examine. Most schools do not have the resources to provide teachers with these helpful physical models and teaching aids. But fortunately, now students can get the same hands-on learning experience using Merge EDU. Merge EDU gives students access to over 1000 digital teaching aids and over 100 multi-sensory, interactive simulations. Not only will this help STEM students gain a deeper understanding of these topics, but it will also help them become familiar with augmented and virtual reality technologies, which could play a major role in their future careers. OCULUS VR TUTORIAL Oculus is one of the biggest manufacturers of virtual reality headsets, so it’s only fitting that the company offers a free tutorial on building your first virtual reality app. This tutorial will not teach you how to build a custom virtual reality app. Instead, the Oculus tutorial teaches you how to build a simple virtual reality app in Unity, which is video game software.  The tutorial will take you through the step-by-step process of designing a virtual reality game that features a ball on a flat surface enclosed by four walls. The goal of the game is to continuously keep the ball rolling to prevent it from colliding with one of the four walls. If it makes contact with a wall, the wall will change colors. Remember, the Oculus tutorial will only teach you how to create this simple virtual reality game. But even though you cannot create a unique virtual reality experience, this tutorial is still incredibly helpful.  By the end of it, you will understand the basics of virtual reality app development in Unity, including how to build scenes, add game objects, and define the behaviors of the game objects. You can then use these skills to build your own virtual reality experiences using Unity software. You don’t need to be tech-savvy in order to use these tools to build your own augmented reality or virtual reality experience. These tools make it easy for people of all skill levels to create a unique experience for business or personal use.

Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade

Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade

January 14, 2021

Historical eras are often defined by the technological developments of that period in time. For example, the 1400s were largely defined by the invention of the printing press, which made it easier to widely disseminate information to the masses. The 1800s were marked by several new technologies, including the development of the railways and the invention of the steamboat. The modern era has largely been defined by the internet, personal computers, smartphones, and social media. These technologies have completely changed everything about modern life, including the way that people access information, work, and communicate. But experts predict that two new technologies are set to take center stage over the next decade. In fact, virtual and augmented reality are expected to be the “most disruptive technology” of the next decade, according to IDTechEx. Here’s what you should know about the future of these innovative technologies: AUGMENTED VS. VIRTUAL VS. MIXED REALITY: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? The terms “augmented reality,” “virtual reality,” and “mixed reality,” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Before learning about these disruptive technologies, it’s important to understand what makes them unique. Virtual reality is technology that allows users to completely immerse themselves in a simulated environment. Headsets such as the Oculus Quest or Google Cardboard are used to shut out the physical world and transport users to either real or imagined worlds.  Augmented reality is technology that allows users to superimpose various digital elements on their real world environment. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not transport the user to a simulated environment. Instead, augmented reality gives the user the power to alter their existing world by adding digital elements. Mixed reality combines both augmented and virtual reality technologies. This technology can be used to create a hybrid world where digital and physical objects interact with one another. Mixed reality is still fairly new, so it is not as widely used as virtual and augmented reality technology. HOW ARE AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY CURRENTLY USED? Both augmented and virtual reality technologies are currently used in a wide range of industries. Some of the many ways these technologies are used today include: * Product Design * Online Retail Sales * Manufacturing  * Virtual Tours * Fun & Games * Education * Interior Design  * Navigational Assistance Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-245.jpeg] PRODUCT DESIGN Augmented and virtual reality technologies are already used to improve the efficiency of the product design process.  In the automotive industry, for instance, manufacturers used to create clay prototypes of new vehicle designs. If someone made a change to the design, the team would need to build a new clay prototype to reflect the change. But now, many design teams use these technologies to create digital prototypes. Multiple changes can be made in real time, which means the design can be finalized and put into production much faster. ONLINE RETAIL SALES Dozens of online retailers now use augmented reality technology to help consumers make purchase decisions. One of these retailers is Sephora, an international cosmetics company. Sephora’s Virtual Artist tool, which is powered by augmented reality technology, allows users to try on different shades of lipstick, eyeshadow, blush, and other cosmetic products. This makes it easier to shop for cosmetic products online and ensures that consumers aren’t disappointed by the way a product looks once it arrives.  Many cosmetic, apparel, and shoe brands use augmented reality technology in this manner. But these aren’t the only industries to use augmented and virtual reality technology to make online sales. The automotive industry also relies on these technologies to help consumers make smarter purchase decisions. Automotive manufacturers use virtual reality technology to offer consumers the opportunity to take virtual test drives of new vehicles. Some manufacturers also use augmented reality technology to allow consumers to project digital images of a vehicle into their real world environment.  This way, consumers can explore the vehicle just as they would if they were at a dealership. In other words, the technology allows automotive manufacturers to create a virtual showroom for consumers to browse. MANUFACTURING The manufacturing industry has also embraced augmented and virtual reality. Some companies use virtual reality technology to provide virtual training sessions to employees. Providing this type of training is more convenient for employees and less expensive for employers, so both parties benefit. Augmented reality is sometimes used to help workers on the assembly line. If a worker needs help, they can use augmented reality technology to project step-by-step instructions or a how-to video onto their surroundings. There’s no need to consult an instruction manual or ask someone for help—they can quickly get the information they need thanks to augmented reality. VIRTUAL TOURS The real estate and travel industries both rely on virtual reality technology to provide virtual tours to consumers. In real estate, this technology is used to offer virtual home tours to buyers. This allows buyers to explore a home on the market without having to visit it in person. This is especially useful for buyers who are relocating to another city or state, which makes touring homes in person even harder. The travel and tourism industry uses virtual reality technology to provide consumers with virtual tours of hotel rooms, landmarks, and other attractions. These tours help consumers decide where to travel, what to do when they arrive, and where to stay. FUN & GAMES Augmented and virtual reality are often associated with the gaming industry, and it’s not hard to see why. Countless apps, video games, and computer games are powered by augmented and/or virtual reality technology. One of the most popular augmented reality games is Pokemon Go, which is an app available for both Android and iOS devices. The app is designed to project digital images of Pokemon characters onto your real world environment. Users must track down as many characters as they can find to earn in-game currency and beat each level. EDUCATION Both augmented and virtual reality technologies are currently used to enhance the educational experience for students of all grade levels. Teachers use virtual reality technology to transport students to simulated environments related to the curriculum. For instance, a history teacher might use virtual reality to transport students to ancient Rome or Egypt. However, an astronomy teacher might use this technology to virtually transport students to the surface of Mars.  Augmented reality is useful in the classroom, too. Geology teachers can use this technology to project digital models of crystalline structures for students to examine. Biology teachers can use augmented reality to project digital diagrams of organs and cell structures. History teachers can use this technology to introduce digital renderings of ancient artifacts to students. These are some of the countless ways that augmented and virtual reality technology can be used to improve the educational experience. INTERIOR DESIGN   It can be hard to visualize what furniture, rugs, and décor will look like inside a room. Fortunately, developers have created a number of augmented reality apps to help users overcome this challenge. The apps allow users to project various digital pieces of furniture and décor into their real world environment so they can see what each item would look like in their home. This makes it possible for users to visualize what everything will look like together so they can design a space with ease. Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-246.jpeg] NAVIGATIONAL ASSISTANCE Augmented reality technology is also used as a navigational assistance tool. For example, the Google Maps app uses augmented reality to project digital elements such as arrows and street signs onto the user’s real world environment. These digital elements help the user figure out where they need to go in order to get to their final destination.  Some automotive manufacturers have also designed vehicles with navigational assistance tools supported by augmented reality. These tools project digital elements onto the driver’s windshield so they can see where they need to go without looking down at their phones or GPS devices. THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY It is expected that businesses will continue to find new and exciting ways to use virtual and augmented reality technology in the future. Some of the ways that these technologies could be used in the future include: * Remote Workplace Transformation  * Promote Social Good  * Available and Affordable Healthcare  * Improve Quality of Life For the Disabled REMOTE WORK TRANSFORMATION Facebook has already announced plans to utilize virtual and augmented reality technologies in an effort to transform the remote workplace. Few details have been released, but so far, the company has revealed that remote workers will be able to type on their physical keyboards while working on a virtual three-monitor computer.  The concept, which is still in the early stages of development, would help overcome common remote work issues such as lack of space or equipment. As a result, this use of virtual and augmented reality technology could help more workers successfully shift to remote work. PROMOTE SOCIAL GOOD Many businesses use virtual and augmented reality to sell their products or services, but some experts believe that these technologies may also be used to promote social good in the future. For example, virtual reality technology can be used to transport people to different areas of the world so they can see what it’s like to live in poverty or in the middle of a war-torn country. The technology can take people to the Arctic Circle so they can see the effects of climate change with their own eyes. Some experts believe that this use of virtual reality technology could help raise awareness of global issues and inspire the public to take action. Virtual and Augmented Reality: The Most Disruptive Technology of the Next Decade [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-247.jpeg] AVAILABLE AND AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE There are a number of ways that these technologies can be used in the future to make high quality healthcare more available, accessible, and affordable to the general public. For example, these technologies may make it possible for physicians to offer vision testing, psychiatric care, physical therapy, and other services remotely. Being able to offer these services remotely will not only make them more accessible, but more affordable as well. IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR THE DISABLED Some experts predict that another future use of virtual and augmented reality will be to improve the quality of life for the disabled. Many people are forced to give up their favorite activities as a result of a physical disability. For instance, a person with a physical disability may no longer be able to run, bike, or swim. But virtual reality technology can give these individuals the opportunity to virtually enjoy the activities they once loved.  Being able to participate in these virtual activities could drastically improve their quality of life. WHAT FACTORS ARE DRIVING THE GROWTH IN VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY?  Experts predict that the market for augmented and virtual reality technology will experience exponential growth over the next decade. In 2020, the global virtual and augmented reality technology market was valued at roughly $12 billion. However, the market is expected to grow to nearly $73 billion by the year 2024.  There are a number of factors that are expected to drive this significant growth, including: * Better devices: Many consumers weren’t initially interested in these technologies because the headsets and glasses were bulky and uncomfortable. But now, the designs are becoming sleeker, lighter, and more comfortable to wear, which could attract a wider range of consumers. * COVID-19: The global pandemic caused a massive decline in foot traffic, which forced businesses in a wide range of industries to shift their focus to e-commerce. Many businesses used augmented and virtual reality for the first time in order to attract and sell to consumers who weren’t able or willing to visit a store in person. This increased the demand for augmented and virtual reality technology, and will continue to drive this market’s growth for the next several years. * Substantial investments: Over $4 billion was invested in the virtual reality and augmented reality market in 2019 alone. These investments will most likely translate to massive growth in this industry over the next decade.    * Integration into existing apps: More augmented and virtual reality features will be built into existing apps, which will expose more consumers to these technologies and drive growth in the market. One example of this is the integration of augmented reality into the Google Maps app.  * New applications: The augmented and virtual reality industry will continue to grow as long as companies continue to discover new and exciting ways to use these technologies to do business. Augmented and virtual reality technology have come a long way since they were first introduced to the world, but there’s no doubt that the best is yet to come. Over the next decade, these technologies will continue to change the way people communicate, shop, learn, travel, and make basic decisions in their everyday life.

Top 7 Augmented Reality Statistics for 2020 [+ Use Cases]

Top 7 Augmented Reality Statistics for 2020 [+ Use Cases]

January 8, 2021

Augmented reality is changing rapidly, and during the Covid pandemic this technology helped businesses adapt from an in-office setup to a work-from-home virtual connectivity. This rise in virtual employment led to the demand for replicating an office at home. But it wasn’t just workers who had to embrace the virtual world. Schools across the country closed, too. Socializing went virtual. When we look at the top augmented reality statistics of 2020, we have to zero in on the role of Covid.Because Covid changed everything this year. Classrooms moved to living rooms or bedrooms. Those without desks at home likely had parents out hunting the stores for workspaces. The need for computers, tablets or laptops surged, too. Social lives changed. For children and for adults. There were no more group meet-ups. Even the dating world had to adapt. After all, how do you date during a pandemic? Especially when bars and other entertainment venues were likely shut or had limited capacity. No one knew who could possibly be a Covid carrier. And this hesitancy, this fear, also likely shaped the way the world moved…or didn’t move. Virtual interactions were safe, though. And, in the need for a reminder of old experiences, people had to find other options that didn’t involve in-person interactions. While virtual tours and other interactive experiences have been around for a while, Covid might have increased their popularity. So what were the top augmented reality trends of 2020? We’ll break down statistics for social, education and the workplace, too. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Top7AugmentedRealityStatistics-1.jpg] AUGMENTING OUR SOCIAL WORLD IN 2020 Augmented reality includes graphic overlays against a real life image, and augmented reality helped make our social world a bit more interesting when few of us could get out of the home. And many of us still may be only socializing with our nearest and dearest—think social pods! During Covid, many Americans augmented their social world. Or embraced virtual experiences. AUGMENTED REALITY GAMING Bored? Many of us were…and many still may be bored out of our minds. Life became pretty monotonous if we didn’t brainstorm new ways to have fun. Video gaming was likely a popular escape. Augmented reality video games could be played with friends, and many kids probably used gaming as a way to stay connected. A study even looked at AR gaming’s effect on both physical and mental health. The study included more than 2,000 participants, and the results were interesting. The study concluded that, “AR games have the potential to promote physical and mental-health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Used by populations under isolation and distress, such games can potentially improve physical and mental health by providing virtual socialization, sustained exercise, temporal routine, and mental structure….” However, the study also noted that more research is needed. While exact game downloads during Covid might not be available, stats taken from Sensor Tower Blog reveal that Pokemon GO has done quite well during 2020: * $1 billion (during 2020) * Player spending increased 11 percent over 2019 These stats were published in early November, so stats for the full year weren’t even available. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has some impressive stats as well; Niantic and WB Games revealed the game’s magical first year statistics as reported by Pocket Gamer: * 10 million downloads on Google Play * Players consumed 850 potions in the game * Players sent 150 million gifts to their friends * Players walked a total of 400 million kilometers * Players took all the glory winning 275 Wizarding Challenges! While many gamers are likely still dealing with limited social interactions, and, therefore, living in the virtual (or augmented) space, 2021 might see those AR gamers head outdoors to play their favorite games. That is, if they have a handheld device! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Top7AugmentedRealityStatistics-1-1.jpg] VIRTUALLY AUGMENTING OUR CULTURAL EXPERIENCES Forget museum visits. Exploring the vast spaces of artwork, science discoveries and history were likely not possible during the pandemic, although some areas didn’t have tight restrictions. Virtual museum tours also were an option (and still are an option). There were many videos on YouTube offering virtual tours of historic locations. Museums, though, were hit with a devastating blow during Covid. According to the United Nations: * 90 percent of museums around the world closed during Covid * 13 percent faced the reality that their doors would shut permanently. In a report titled “Museums, Museum Professionals and Covid 19,” the International Council of Museums reported: * 94.7 percent of museums were closed across the globe * Only 1.1 percent remained open * 92.6 percent of museums in North America were closed * 84 percent reported that staff were working from home * Only 26.1 percent had staff whose full-time job was dedicated to “digital activities.” These activities included virtual tours. * 55.7 percent reported that they had staff for “digital activities,” but that focus wasn’t their full-time job. * As for budgeting for online or digital activities (including communication), more than 35 percent reported that they didn’t know how much of their budget was allocated for this purpose, while more than 23 percent said only between one percent and five percent of the budget was reserved for digital. * More than 33 percent of museums reported they didn’t have online collections * More than 43 percent reported that their online collections remained the same during Covid as before. * Almost 18 percent reported that they offered more online collections after the lockdown * A little more than 4 percent reported that online collections only began after lockdowns * More than 18 percent also reported that offered more live events after lockdown * More than 16 percent reported that they expanded online exhibitions after lockdown [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Top7AugmentedRealityStatistics-2.jpg] AUGMENTING OUR COMMUNICATION: WORK, SCHOOL & BEYOND Our social communication dovetails into our work and school communication, too. Why? Many were used to socializing with coworkers on a daily basis. Children socialized with friends at school, during extracurricular activities like sports and in their neighborhoods. Of course, before Covid, most of us took socializing with friends, family and co-workers for granted. During the worst of the pandemic—and perhaps even now—many Americans are still limiting their social face-to-face interactions. The mask is the norm. So is social distancing. What kept students, teachers, co-workers, friends and families communicating during this crazy time? What helped replicate face-to-face interactions without the worry of spreading a virus? The screen! Most importantly, and most prominently, digital conferencing platforms like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Marco Polo and so many more! The choices of platforms were plentiful, but so were all the fun options. Who wanted to look like they were actually at home? That was too boring! Instead, many embraced augmented reality. All those cool background choices like the beach? And those quirky crazy filters? Yes, that was augmented reality in your day-to-day communications. How much did American use these platforms during Covid? Here’s some stats from Statista: * In March, Skype had more than 59 million daily users * Zoom had more than 27 million downloads in March Back in May, Ipsos surveyed more than 1,000 adults (over age 18) for the Mozilla Foundation and offered even more data related to our videoconferencing habits related to lockdown: * Almost 60 percent use these virtual conferencing either for their job or just to socialize * Almost ¾ of young adults (defined as 18-34) use these platforms * 85 percent reported that they will use videoconferencing after the lockdowns * 54 percent expressed concerns about their home being on view (privacy issues) * Zoom was the favorite platform (66 percent!) Those who were unpartnered or who didn’t feel comfortable quarantining with a partner might have had to rely on virtual dates, too. If those meet-ups happened via platforms like Zoom or Skype, maybe couples had unique backgrounds to make those dates a bit more adventurous. Set the mood with a beach or maybe a romantic forest! Or choose something quirky? Virtual dates were a reality in 2020, and augmented reality likely played a part, too. A NEW YEAR: AUGMENTED REALITY IN 2021 In March, lockdowns began in many parts of the U.S. Since that time, many have remained working from home and using teleconferencing platforms to stay in touch with colleagues, managers, friends, relatives and, of course, teachers. Students may have started back to in-person learning only to head back home, some might have never returned to school. Others may be enjoying life in the classroom again. Others might be using even more augmented reality in the classroom…or at home for the classroom. Covid threw our lives into a completely different world. Looking ahead, will augmented reality continue to be a part of our lives? Or will we once again go back to the face-to-face normal? Ipsos’ survey revealed that most people would continue using virtual platforms. And some businesses could embrace work-from-home as the standard. While the pivot to a virtual workplace may have been strange for many, it did perhaps start to feel normal. Could businesses keep workers at the home office? Perhaps. Augmented reality gaming has been around for years; Pokemon GO has been popular since its release several years ago. The rise of AR gaming during the pandemic may actually have had benefits, too. When socialization wasn’t an option, the augmented world allowed gamers to experience something different. Maybe they mixed potions, found Pokemon, built augmented worlds or ran from zombies. But they could socialize. And get moving. Museums will once again open up. Although when that happens may be the big question mark. Some may be open now…depending on the area and the restrictions. Looking ahead, though, there will be a day when the old normal becomes the new normal once again. But what that looks like is really the greatest unknown of the post-pandemic future. Who knows what trends will stay, what ones will be left in the dust and what new technology could emerge.

How Will Joe Biden Change the Global Car Market

How Will Joe Biden Change the Global Car Market

January 4, 2021

The global commercial market made some major shifts during the pandemic, and the automotive industry has adapted to maintain consumer interest and turnover. This year brought another widespread event that will have a steady impact on the auto industry as a whole, and Joe Biden’s presidential win might mean big changes for car retailers and manufacturers. While the Trump administration rolled back a lot of eco-friendly and emission-conscious legislation, Biden is looking to apply a heavier hand to one of the world’s most timely issues. But that leaves the country with a looming question: “How will Joe Biden winning the US presidential election change the global car market?” From emissions to alternative energy mandates, take a look at some of the key ways Biden’s administration is planning to change the automotive industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-224.jpeg] WHAT IS BIDEN’S PLATFORM FOR EMISSIONS? Prior to Trump’s elimination of this policy, American emissions were supposed to decrease by a level of 3.5 per cent annually, and then by five percent each year through 2025. Now, Biden is planning to take this policy a step further. Under his presidency, car manufacturers will be expected to adhere to an emission reduction amount of six percent each year from 2026 on. This is a lofty goal, but retailers and manufacturers stand to save money over time by adopting these energy-efficient car sale measures. In fact, the latest policy showed a potential annual savings of more than $1 billion for car brands on the market. Additionally, the widespread adoption of energy-efficient vehicles can help consumers save money on fuel and maintenance costs. Building a marketplace that helps to promote and facilitate alternative fuel sources makes the commodity cheaper and more accessible to everyone. WILL THERE BE INCENTIVES FOR EV OR ALTERNATIVE FUEL DRIVERS? Previously, the rigid requirements for obtaining the EV tax benefit prevented many households from qualifying. This had a direct impact on the alternative fuel and vehicle sales markets, which Biden’s policies are likely to completely reverse. One of Biden’s key plans for the return to an Obama-era approach to EPA compliance is expanding the EV tax credit. This allotment provides taxpayers with an incentive to purchase and drive energy-efficient vehicles. Additionally, this encourages ridesharing and carpooling, which is proven to minimize carbon emissions. This shift back to a more conscious roadway will make electric and hybrid cars more accessible and enticing than ever for the everyday consumer. Tax breaks lead to increased affordability for manufacturers and retailers, as well. Furthermore, potential incentive programs could pay consumers thousands to trade in their fossil fuel-powered vehicle for a greener option. Biden’s plan is loosely modeled after a previous version presented by Democrats to replace more than 63 million gas cars with efficient vehicles in the next 10 years. Assuming these tax changes would make it through congress, we could see these changes take effect sooner rather than later. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-225.jpeg] HOW WILL A BIDEN PRESIDENCY IMPACT ELECTRIC AND HYBRID SALES? Since more consumers and brands are going to be receiving a benefit based on the sale and purchase of electric vehicles, experts are expecting this market to rise significantly. By 2023, electric vehicle sales are projected to make up more than 15% of the market. In 2026, that number is expected to double. Tesla, being a frontrunner of this growing industry, will likely see a high amount of that potential growth. This brand alone is planning to add a dozen new models to the market. Car brands that offer hybrid models are also building out this part of their inventories, as long as the units can meet set efficiency and emission standards. Biden’s new proposals include the installation of more than 500,000 charging stations across the country. This motion alone will make the electric vehicle market more available to the needs of the mass-market consumer. More charging stations, lower vehicle maintenance costs, and widespread marketing will likely build the electric vehicle sphere into a major corner of the car sales industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-226.jpeg] HOW WILL AUTO INDUSTRY JOBS BE AFFECTED? Although Biden’s restructuring of mileage and emission requirements will lead to innovation in the electric/alternative markets, there will be an impact on the longevity of jobs across traditional brands and manufacturers. Biden’s climate-based plan strives to bring more than a million new jobs to Americans across a variety of spheres and specializations. This is in response to the reinstitution of pre-Trump environmental regulations and standards. After the election, a lot of tension was created in the auto industry within the job market and competition for open positions. However, his position will likely create more jobs in other areas of automotive retail and industrialization. While Biden was Vice President, at least 33,000 jobs were created in the car manufacturing sector in Michigan. This model followed similar proposals made by previous Democratic legislators in favor of innovation over preservation of the current industrial standards. We’ll likely see a repeat of this trend, as Biden is trying to build out a larger efficient vehicle market to create jobs in that sphere. For those in the alternative energy field, innovative technology, and energy-efficient manufacturing there will be a huge influx of jobs in these previously niche industries. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-227.jpeg] WILL GLOBAL TRADE BE AFFECTED DURING BIDEN’S PRESIDENCY? During Trump’s presidency, we saw an upset in global trade as tariffs and sanctions inhibited international commerce. However, financial and political leaders expect that to change significantly once Biden takes office. The President-Elect has been clear about his position regarding international trade and globalized commerce. Among the primary impacted goods are aluminum and steel. Opening up these regulations will drive down the cost of these commodities, as well as stimulating a previously stagnant segment of the auto sales pipeline. This is particularly impactful when looking at the relationship between the U.S. and China economies. By taking the matter of global trade with a more cut-and-dry formulaic approach, it’s highly likely that international commerce will return to Obama-era standards at the very least. Additionally, the technology sector will see an influx of activity under the multiple tiers of Biden’s financial plan. WILL REGULATIONS BE PLACED ON FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS? One of the major requirements of Biden’s energy efficiency plan involves some significant changes in the auto manufacturing and sales sector. From tailpipe standards to emission compliance, car brands are responding to the President Elect’s plans in the supply chain and on the sales floor. By 2025, all cars may be required to adhere to a minimum standard of 54 mpg, and trucks will need to stay within 39 mpg. This change alone has the potential to change the way a country interacts with the rest of the world in regard to carbon and gas emissions. Keeping sales high in the alternative vehicle industry depends on a combination of targeted marketing, consumer education, and accessibility. For those who are looking to stay within the traditional fuel market, there will be some limits on the amount of carbon that can be released into the environment. But, higher fuel costs and lower ROI are driving drivers out of the gasoline sphere and into alternative fuel cars. This pressure is making it more profitable for auto manufacturers to build out their eco-friendly product lines and improve innovation in this side of their research and development budgets. Brands that refuse to adapt to more stringent standards will face looming fees before being forced to comply or reduce their standard product offerings. This is one of the largest movements being made around the world to reduce the amount of high-emission vehicles on the road. WHAT THE GREEN NEW DEAL COULD MEAN FOR THE AUTO INDUSTRY A large reason why the global car market is expected to change so much is the implementation of a bigger attack on climate change-causing emissions and global ecology. The Green New Deal is also proposed to change other aspects of the commercial market, from consumer goods and services to corporate vendors. Regulations placed on fossil fuel emissions can make the manufacturing process more expensive when it comes to building standard efficiency vehicles. This is one of the main reasons why car brands are making a widespread shift toward efficient mass-market production. If Biden completely adheres to the proposal made by prior presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the industry could reach zero-emission status by the year 2035. To drive innovation and boost production, Biden proposes to invest more than $400 billion toward the advancement of battery technology and auto market infrastructure. This will largely go toward building a car sales and development structure that supports energy-efficient vehicles and a lower (or nonexistent) dependency on gas as fuel. While we saw a lot of major automotive market changes under Trump’s presidency, it looks like Biden is going to return a lot of the industry to the trends of the previous administration. We will likely see an intense shift toward widespread market acceptance for electric and energy-efficient vehicles, and a preference for tech innovation over-dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, reducing the imposed tariffs and other shipping fees that have been placed on primary sourcing countries will open the automotive industry to the global commerce market. Consumers are worried about rising costs and the impact this will have on the job market, but Biden plans to create jobs and provide economic incentives to offset these concerns.