How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021
March 19, 2021
Snapchat has been around for years as a way for friends to connect, without commitment, using disappearing text, images, and video. In recent years, this platform has become a world leader in the mainstream adoption of augmented and virtual reality technology. Businesses are hopping on the trend to capitalize on this growing movement while using virtual reality technology to maintain sales metrics during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. From offering virtual try-on solutions across multiple commercial spheres to understanding user behaviors for more targeted advertising, Snapchat is changing the world for e-commerce brands, brick-and-mortar stores, and consumers alike. Just last year, Snapchat released 15 different products that all use virtual and augmented reality to create an immersive experience for their users. Additionally, over the past few months, the value of the app has increased by more than double. This mobile app is taking over the world in a unique way, and these are just a few ways that Snap is turning virtual reality into real money. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Augmented-Reality-Reaches-Millennials-and-Gen-Z.jpg]A teenager boy is holding a Samsung phone in his hand. He reads about social network Snapchat in Play Market. He wants to download and install the program on the phone. April, 2017 – Minsk, Belarus. AUGMENTED REALITY REACHES MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z Younger consumers have been sticking to social media like glue, even before the pandemic took hold around the world. Gen Z and Millennial buyers want instant access to thorough research and product testing, in comparison to older generations. Using augmented reality and virtual reality during the shopping process is an easy and efficient way to try different colors of a product, review item specifications, and even check stock levels instantly. And, these trends aren’t only applying to e-commerce. Brick-and-mortar stores have also started using Snapchat to simplify the shopping process. In order to keep up with consumer demand for immersive reality experiences, Snapchat has doubled down on infrastructure costs during the pandemic. This investment is already proving to provide a high ROI for the tech brand, as daily usage has soared over the past few months. In the first quarter of last year, Snapchat had 229 million daily active users (DAUs) – which is an increase of at least 20 percent YoY. And, that’s only in the American market. France and the United Kingdom, for example, experienced an increase of more than 30 percent among DAUs. The increase in adoption among key demographics has translated to an increase in overall engagement, as well. This has driven sales through the roof for Snapchat’s brand – a 44 percent increase to a total of $462 million in 2020 alone. Gen Z and Millennial consumers want instant access to impressive tech solutions, and virtual/augmented reality are leading the way. From shopping to communication to everything in between, Snapchat is paving the way for widespread adoption of immersive and mixed media in everyday life. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Immersive-Media-Brings-More-to-the-Table.jpg]woman updating her snapchat in cafe IMMERSIVE MEDIA BRINGS MORE TO THE TABLE Virtual reality is creating buzz across the gaming, commerce, and even real estate spheres as more people find value in video and immersive media. These solutions provide users with the unique ability to try products in a realistic environment, without ever leaving home. Additionally, Snapchat’s approach to the tech trend removes the need for auxiliary equipment – such as headsets and motion-capture elements. With just a mobile device and the app, users are able to apply visual elements over real-world images – or simply by highlighting their chosen product through the lens. Buying a new couch? See what each color would look like staged in your living room. Shopping for a car? Check out the features with a digital magnifying glass, and test drive the unit on your choice of terrain. AR/VR technology is finding its way into virtually every industry, and Snapchat has capitalized on that boom among their growing consumer base in a huge way. Even though the world is opening up in waves, the consumer pool as a whole has become accustomed to instant digital access to everything they need for day-to-day life. Experts expect that trend to continue, even once the pandemic officially comes to a close. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Digital-Try-On-Solutions-Reduce-Returns-and-Buyers-Remorse.jpg]Online shopping – Paper cartons or parcel with a shopping cart logo and credit card on a laptop keyboard. Shopping service on The online web and offers home delivery. DIGITAL TRY-ON SOLUTIONS REDUCE RETURNS AND BUYER’S REMORSE Returns make up a significant amount of revenue loss across various corners of the market, from clothing to furniture to even cars. By having a way to truly test a product in a virtual setting, consumers are able to have more faith in their purchases. As a result, returns have dropped by more than 22% among top brands. Snapchat users are among the growing group that is prioritizing digitization in the shopping experience, with at least 40 percent of their consumer base using augmented reality technology in the past 12 months for day-to-day commerce. Additionally, as we’ve seen with the growth among Snapchat users, these apps make shoppers more likely to buy while they’re shopping online or in the store. Window shopping has always made up a considerable amount of the commercial sphere, and looking for products online is free of costs AND commitments. But, with cart abandonment rates being such a powerful metric for online stores, AR/VR tech is helping brands to get more out of their window shoppers through sales engagement standards and improved conversions. As Snapchat continues to penetrate multiple spheres and demographics, businesses and individuals are jumping on the bandwagon to make shopping easier and more satisfying than ever before. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Pandemic-Shopping-Behaviors-Extend-to-Mobile-App-Use.jpg]African young man in glasses shopping online with credit card using smart phone at home. Indoor. PANDEMIC SHOPPING BEHAVIORS EXTEND TO MOBILE APP USE Americans, in general, prefer to surf the web on their mobile devices, and recent data shows that more than 92 percent of online users access the internet from a phone. This dependence on hand-held connectivity is one of the reasons why stores have been prioritizing social media engagement and mobile accessibility. More consumers are shopping from their phones, and this trend is bleeding into a wide range of digital markets. Social media, such as Snapchat, can be credited with coaxing this wave of cyber shoppers and the growth of digital integration into our daily lives. Following the Coronavirus, app downloads and usage skyrocketed to break records across the entire web. In fact, consumer spending as a whole reached record highs in the second quarter of last year. How was this possible during one of the largest economic downturns of recent years? One of the reasons why Americans are spending more time on their phones is to cope with the changing world around them. Online shopping, as well as social media use as a whole, is one way to mitigate the stress and uncertainty of a global pandemic. Additionally, as more and more businesses have sent their employees home to work remotely, we’ve become accustomed to the instant access to goods and information that these apps provide. From small-scale businesses to global brands, people are using programs and apps like Snapchat to: * Appeal to a wider consumer base * Approach new potential customers * Increase engagement across other platforms * Drive online store activity * Boost brand recognition * Stay tapped into their target audiences, and what users are looking for By helping to increase customer conversions, using social media for brand growth, and adopting immersive media as a mainstay in modern society – apps like Snapchat are effectively changing the digital sphere and the commercial world as we’ve always known it. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/More-Consumers-Want-Instant-Shopping-Options.jpg]Online shopping concept, young woman hands holding mobile phone showing payment success information on screen with credit card and laptop computer on table while relax at home MORE CONSUMERS WANT INSTANT SHOPPING OPTIONS If the pandemic changed anything about the commercial sphere, it’s the type of instant gratification that was created by the dearth of instant shipping options as a result of social distancing measures. To keep up with demand and meet sales goals, retailers responded by upping their delivery and mobile accessibility measures in 2020. Following the close of the pandemic, that trend is expected to stick around – and even grow – according to experts in these key industries. As previously mentioned, we’re getting used to the instant access to goods that food delivery, rapid shipping, and AR-based shopping tools provide. Even once stores are able to fully open up to the public, online shopping trends will continue to drive a major section of the commercial market. In fact, e-commerce is also boosting social media apps in a symbiotic way. With more and more consumers looking to online solutions to get through daily life, brands like Snapchat are swooping in to bridge the gap. By offering a new way for brands and business professionals to reach their target consumers, this technology is being more widely used in the commercial sphere. Since more consumers are driving the demand for digitization in the commercial, social, and professional worlds – apps and tech brands are facilitating this change. Providing resources to their consumer base while also catalyzing the upcoming “digital boom” sweep is helping to drive this change that is taking over the world. WHY IS SNAPCHAT MORE COST-EFFECTIVE THAN PROPRIETARY AUGMENTED REALITY OPTIONS? While many brands have started offering their own AR/VR apps and programs to connect with consumers, Snapchat has proven to be the more affordable option for certain functions such as: * Product try-on functions * Image and video capture * Scannable product data and information planning * Referrals and sharing accessibility To keep ROI high while still utilizing this powerful social trend, brands are turning to established apps like Snapchat for the same features at a fraction of the cost. Building a proprietary AR app or program requires a heavy amount of overhead, and this trend is really only in use among technical brands such as electronics or automotive. For clothing, consumer goods, furniture retailers, and more – utilizing third-party programs proves to be more affordable and accessible for many businesses and corporate brands. With Snapchat’s free features, growing brands are able to access the booming technology that is building the social media sphere without the cost and overhead of spearheading their own initiatives. Snapchat, in return, is seeing a steady increase in corporate usage as well as individual adoption from 2020 on. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/How-Snap-is-Turning-Virtual-Reality-into-Real-Money.jpg]Alushta, Russia – May 23, 2017: Woman holding iPhone with social networking service Snapchat on the screen. iPhone was created and developed by the Apple inc. HOW SNAP IS TURNING VIRTUAL REALITY INTO REAL MONEY Virtual reality as a concept has been generating buzz for decades, but it has only recently become affordable enough to truly turn a profit. Additionally, businesses who are looking for a fresh and unique way to appeal to their audiences have adopted some form of AR/VR connectivity to tap into this growing consumer base. While their expenses have increased as a result of the sharp intake, they have also maximized value by monetizing these changes through advertising, premium product offerings, and more. With a paid service option that expands user capabilities, premium users could take advantage of a wide range of features for a small fee. Gaining access to the Snapchat premium plan included: * Exclusive, paid content that isn’t available to free users * Personal connection with brands and personalities that are in-demand * Screenshot production * Snapcash integration * Spotlight access Snapchat’s Spotlight feature actually pays users to make viral posts, which is another way the brand is generating revenue during this unprecedented time in the company’s history. Payment for this feature is largely determined by the post’s success, as well as the reputation the user is able to maintain online. Viral posts are all over the web, and this is yet another way for social media platforms and users alike to gain public attention – and make a profit – based on their creative content. Augmented and virtual reality is changing the world before our eyes, and social media brands are taking this technology to expand their brand’s reach while appealing to current consumers. As we continue to dive deeper into the digital world, technology is paving the way for future trends and the growth of global commerce in the immediate future. For these reasons, Snap is turning virtual reality into real money across the entire network of brands, companies, and even influencers on the web. Despite a rise in their operational costs, Snapchat is using their approach to integrated augmented and virtual reality to build their own brand significantly during an ongoing health and economic crisis.
Virtual Reality Trends that Could Be the Future
March 16, 2021
A virtual future may not be too far from reality, and virtual reality has already plugged into daily life. Automotive manufacturers use this technology in design, and retailers may use virtual reality as a means to replicate in-person experiences. The future is virtual. According to Statista, the predictions for a virtual future include six million virtual reality headset sales for 2021. Statista also predicts that gaming will capture $1.4 billion, while the entire virtual reality market will hit nearly $5 billion (in 2021). What else will consumers view through virtual lenses? Here are virtual reality trends that could be the future. VIRTUAL TRAINING Virtual reality is already embraced by some retail global giants during employee training. The technology allows employees to safely engage in and experience customer service situations that simulate real life experiences in a virtual realm. By using a virtual platform to introduce new employees to challenging customer service scenarios, it allows them to better prepare for the real situation. In the virtual realm, mistakes can be used as a learning tool. No customer was actually involved or affected. If an employee incorrectly manages the situation, nothing escalates. Instead, managers could use the virtual real to decide if the employee is a good fit. Virtual reality could be not just a teaching tool but something used to gauge the effectiveness of the employee match, too. Virtual training scenarios also allow employees to walk through potentially dangerous incidents without any real danger. Virtual reality could be used to help teach employees how to handle a robbery or other emergency situation. Companies like Strivr have created virtual reality training platforms. Strivr has been used by jetBlue, Fidelity and Verizon. Strivr creates a “custom curriculum” for each company. Virtual Reality Trends [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Trips.jpg] VIRTUAL TRIPS! Covid kept many Americans at home for months at a time. Even now, many cities in the country still have restrictions on capacity, and, of course, masks may also be required. During the beginning of the pandemic, though, shelter-in-place mandates kept many from leaving home for anything but essential trips. Not many people were going out. But most everyone was looking for ways to stay busy…and entertained. Sheltering-in-place began to feel like confinement perhaps. However, all those closed recreational businesses began to find their footing virtually. Museums and other venues offered virtual tours and trips. Virtual was reality. And while virtual trips and tours weren’t the same as the real-life experience, for Americans hunkering indoors, the virtual realm might have been the only ticket to fun. Those virtual trips could have started a new trend, though. For example, museums of great interest for tourists offered online virtual tours. No matter what part of the world an individual lived, they could virtually walk through museums like the Louvre or the Guggenheim. In fact, the Guggenheim allowed families and individuals to sign up for private virtual tours. The museum also offered online art classes, too! YouTube also provided individuals and families with a way to explore faraway lands and countries. Videos via YouTube included tours of rainforests and famous landmarks, too. Those staying home could even take a virtual tour of the Pyramids of Giza. Will the future embrace these virtual tours? Perhaps as virtual reality headsets become more accessible, tours of countries or historical landmarks could go virtual. Maybe museums and other cultural venues also embrace virtual tours. Virtual Reality Trends [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Shopping.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOPPING Online shopping isn’t new. During the pandemic, though, online retail might have felt like the safest option. While many areas of the country have gradually opened up to more foot traffic, stores may be a bit more active with shoppers. However, some consumers might have become more comfortable and confident with the online retail options. Buying online will likely continue to be a popular choice, but what about virtual shopping? Will online shopping begin to include virtual components? Currently, virtual and augmented reality features can be found within the online world of commerce. Stores like Ulta and Sephora offer virtual try-on options for consumers to preview shades of cosmetics. Ikea’s stores offer virtual reality experiences to allow consumers to create a kitchen. Car shopping also has gone virtual. Sites like RelayCars allow consumers to preview a vehicle in virtual reality. Users can swap out the paint hues and peek inside the car. Virtual reality could become more prevalent in the car-shopping experience, and, in the future, perhaps users step into a virtual realm as the beginning of their car hunt. Maybe the virtual reality showrooms give consumers a better idea about the cars they like, and the vehicles that they are ready to ‘x’ off their list. VIRTUAL…MEDICINE? Medical visits sometimes went remote during the pandemic. It wasn’t uncommon for medical professionals to schedule virtual therapy sessions (for psychologists) or even virtual check-ups when the situation was appropriate. Could the virtual visit become a mainstay? Or could patients put on a headset to meet up with doctors or therapists? Anything is possible. Virtual reality is being used, however, by psychologists to help patients experience situations without placing them in harm’s way. Virtual reality allows patients who may suffer from anxiety or agoraphobia to safely confront their fears in virtual reality. For example, someone who fears driving may be able to drive in virtual reality before actually going on the road. Virtual reality also is used by doctors for training purposes. And maybe in the future this technology could be used in medical schools for some training. In fact, using virtual reality for medical school education during Covid was suggested in a paper published by the Resident Student Organization. VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES While the pandemic ushered in numerous virtual tours and trips, other virtual experiences could become a reality, too. During the worst of Covid, gone were nights out, including trips to the movies, bar crawls, concerts, theme park visits and other recreational events that kept the weekends busy. Concerts went virtual as favorite musicians hosted performances from their home or other locales. Could concerts go virtual? Or sporting events? While the in-person experience will probably be greatly embraced once herd immunity hits, some individuals may like the concept of virtually plugging into an event. Most everyone has experienced a time when they were unable to make an event. Maybe they scored tickets to a major baseball game or a sold-out concert only to have a babysitter cancel. What if virtual became an option? If you can’t make the in-person event but have tickets, what if the future holds virtual seats? This could mean that the attendee wears a headset and enters the venue virtually. They see the game or concert as if they were there! The concept could be incredibly cool. Will it happen? Who knows! VIRTUAL MEETINGS For many employees, work-from-home may be the new office…for good. Some companies have seen how much financial savings goes along with not having employees in the office. Maybe companies have noticed that employees are more productive. Covid might have changed the working environment for these companies. Virtual meetings and meet-ups could be the future. Automotive companies have used virtual reality to review car designs in a virtual environment. Businesses use virtual conferencing platforms like Zoom to host meetings and stay in touch. Synergizing could mean virtual meetings in the future! Just be sure to pick a great background! VIRTUAL LEARNING For some children, virtual learning was an amazing opportunity. Others didn’t fare so well. Schools may be more open to embracing a virtual learning environment for the future. Online colleges are already a reality. Perhaps the online learning that was forced upon schools becomes a doorway to more virtual learning opportunities. Imagine if many universities started offering virtual classes full-time for students. This could save a tremendous amount of money on housing and other costs. The idea of virtual learning also could make college more accessible to some students. What if elementary or middle school offered virtual options? For students who struggle in the classroom, this could open up a new way of learning. VIRTUAL DRIVING AR Post pointed out that self-driving cars may be the future. We already see AI driving the future, and a self-driving car probably isn’t far from reality. Many companies—and tech giants—are working toward a car that drives autonomously. So perhaps we should all get ready to relinquish our driver’s seat! While many are eyeing the future with self-driving cars, what this will look like is anyone’s best guess. If self-driving cars become the norm, maybe the roads look different. Will self-driving cars all be electric? Will gas stations become obsolete? The reality of a virtual reality car is that for the roads to become entirely driverless will require a LOT of safety features within the car. A self-driving car will need to understand the future maneuvers of other self-driving cars. The car will need to become incredibly intelligent, understanding not only the basics of movement and acceleration but also the rules of the road, too. The car will need to know who has the right of way. It will need to be programmed with GPS components. While virtual reality is taking the driver’s seat in our automobiles and accelerating into the fast lane of commerce, too, the virtual future isn’t coded in certainty. Technology evolves quickly, and the design of the virtual future is still a blurred vision…but it is going to be coded with excitement!
Why Consumers Need Virtual Car Showrooms
March 15, 2021
The case for virtual car showrooms isn’t a tough one to make in the automotive industry. Manufacturers and dealerships understand that Covid shifted the playing field. Online shopping became the safe option for many consumers, and necessity might have played a major part of the shift, too. During the pandemic—which is still raging on—many businesses that were deemed non essential might have been closed. States and even cities had different restrictions, however. Some cities issued lockdowns while others didn’t even mandate masks. Consumers had to adjust their daily habits to meet the mandates of their area while also acting to protect their own health. Online shopping may have become the safe option for many who simply didn’t want to shop in potentially crowded and sometimes cleaned-out stores. During the height of the pandemic, grocery store shelves were stripped of toilet paper, paper towels and canned goods. Meat sections were cleared. Shoppers might have been forced to get creative with meals…and paper goods, too. Perhaps bidets began to look like an appealing upgrade. Online stores might have been a welcome respite from the possible chaos of in-store experiences. Virtual shopping also meant no exposure to others. For shoppers who were on the hunt for bigger purchases like cars, searching online might have been the only option if local dealerships were closed. SHOPPING FOR A CAR WHEN DEALERSHIPS WEREN’T OPEN Those in need of a new car during the height of pandemic restrictions might have had few options for browsing. Dealerships often offered slideshows or photos of vehicles on their lot. Yet, pictures don’t tell the whole…picture. The one-dimensional flat image gives the shopper a basic look at the car. Even photos of the interior can offer shoppers with what the car looks like. However, interactions via photos aren’t so enticing or exciting. Visitors to a dealership site click a picture, view it, and move on. What did the car shopping experience look like before Covid? For many new car hunters, the process might have been involved. Maybe the hunt involved visits to many different dealerships. Buyers may or may not have had an idea about the type of car they wanted, and this lack of direction might have further complicated the search. Procuring a loan also was part of the buying experience for many on the hunt for a new or used car. Some buyers may not have been easily—or quickly—approved. According to a press release announcing the findings of the “2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey” study, the average car buyer went to 2.3 car dealerships. Cox Automotive also reported that even before Covid, online shopping was experiencing an uptick. The 2019 press release noted that “Car buyers spend an estimated 61% of active shopping time online….” The time benefit of online shopping also may hold appeal for buyers. The in-store experience can be frustrating especially when dealing with financing. Cox Automotive explained: “Buyers who negotiate and complete their required paperwork online are notably more satisfied with the buying process, as are those who spend less than 2 hours total at the dealership.” During Covid, many shoppers couldn’t possibly make even one visit to a dealership. When dealerships were closed, though, business couldn’t just grind to a halt. Buyers still needed and wanted cars. Yet, they needed a way to browse and interact with the vehicles. Augmented and virtual reality showrooms became a solution to the need for a new browsing experience. While pictures and photo slideshows could still be a part of the vehicle presentation, interactive online showrooms provided an immersive shopping experience for the consumer. Virtual Car Showrooms [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Virtual-Car-Showrooms2.jpg] AUGMENTED VS. VIRTUAL: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE Prior to Covid, some dealerships and manufacturers offered interactive user experiences via virtual reality or augmented reality. These types of showrooms did exist before the pandemic, but the need for them was likely exacerbated by the health mandates of states and cities. There might have been different platforms available to the car buying consumer during the online experience. Shoppers could have been immersed in a virtual reality car showroom or experienced their browsing via augmented reality. What’s the difference between these two technologies? Aren’t they the same? Augmented and virtual reality are two very different experiences, but both can be used for a car showroom online. In fact, RelayCars offers both an augmented reality showroom and a virtual reality showroom; users can choose the platform that works best for them. The difference between augmented and virtual reality is the environment. In virtual reality showrooms, the entire showroom exists virtually. Users can enter the virtual showroom by wearing a virtual reality headset or it could be a destination that’s available on a website (no headset necessary). Headsets actually allow the user to feel that they are in another place, while an online static experience simply allows the user to interact via a virtual environment. In contrast, augmented reality car showrooms typically allow the user (or shopper) to place a vehicle into the user’s own unique environment. With augmented reality, the user can place an SUV on a bed, in the garage or even next to a tree. The user gets to choose the environment. In virtual reality, though, the environment is created for the user…and it exists virtually. One technology isn’t inherently better than the other. Some users prefer virtual experiences, others like the unique mixed reality of augmented reality showrooms. Both types of showrooms may be offered via a website or an app. Virtual reality showrooms can allow the user to walk around a car, look inside the vehicle and view other features, too. Augmented reality showrooms provide similar options. In addition, the user also may be able to change paint colors or maybe add unique features to the car. Augmented reality and virtual reality showrooms and experiences existed before Covid. Ferrari designed an app to be used in the physical dealership to allow buyers to change aspects of the vehicles on the showroom floor. With the app, the paint hues and other features could be changed. Users also could see inside the mechanics of the vehicle. Virtual Car Showrooms [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Virtual-Car-Showrooms.jpg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY SIMPLIFY THE CAR HUNT The ease of online virtual and augmented reality experiences might have streamlined the car shopping experience. While it is true that some shoppers might have gone online out of necessity, as the restrictions eased, shoppers might have been more comfortable with online experiences…even for large purchases. Habit breeds comfort, and months of lockdown for some consumers might have also meant months of getting intimately acquainted with online shopping. During Covid, some dealerships might have been forced to take the entire buying process online—including the financing. Some places might not have been able to handle financing online. Regardless of how much of the buying process was and is completed in an online space, the prevalence of virtual and augmented reality might have forever impacted shopping experiences for the better. While it remains to be seen how dealerships handle online offerings post-Covid (since we’re still in the midst of the pandemic), sites like RelayCars remain a fixed space for those who prefer to browse online. Even if dealerships can’t or don’t wish to continue to host a virtual showroom, shoppers may look to other online resources to do their research before heading to a dealership. Consumers might look online during their car shopping hunt to find what makes and models interest them, fit the budget and meet their needs. Aesthetics matter to many consumers, but, ultimately, the price has to be right, too. Online resources including dealership sites offer data that consumers need to help figure out their ideal vehicle. Before the pandemic, dealership sites were one of the go-to destinations to find information about the available deals, rebates and sales. Consumers could use these online sites as tools to compare and contrast prices. Virtual and augmented reality car showrooms add yet another layer to the consumer’s research toolbox. When deciding between two competing brands of sedans, consumers could visit an online showroom to gain more information about the features or the interior specs. Little details could make a big difference, and while pictures are beneficial, they don’t tell the whole story about a vehicle. Using virtual and augmented reality experiences, shoppers can walk around the vehicle, step inside and glance at the unique features of each model. The consumer can use these experiences to whittle down their wish list; dealership visits may then become more thoughtful. The old way of shopping for a car was, for many, an endeavor. The hunt for the perfect ride might have included visits to multiple dealerships, several test drives and many, many walks around the sales lots. As dealerships began to develop savvier marketing materials online, more resources were readily available via websites. Consumers have been able to browse pictures of cars online for years; now, though, the rise of virtual and augmented reality has simplified the search once more.
A Virtual Reality Showroom Lets Consumers Preview Clothes, Cars & More
March 1, 2021
Virtual reality is transforming how consumers shop for goods and services. When retail went remote via online platforms during Covid, consumers took their credit cards to the virtual realm. The remote shopping experience might have been the norm for many shoppers who were already used to perusing web sites and clicking buy, but for other consumers the online experience was something new to navigate. While dressing rooms for clothes and showrooms for cars might have seemed untenable online, technology delivered a virtual experience to simulate the in-person experiences. A Virtual ‘try-on’ experience and a virtual reality showroom provides consumers with a way to visualize their purchase before finalizing the buy. Here’s how businesses across different industries used virtual reality to help customers with their online shopping and helped them finalize their purchasing decisions. VIRTUAL…FASHION AND BEAUTY Vogue Business highlighted numerous fashion and beauty brands that were embracing the ‘virtual shopping’ experience. And, as Vogue noted, these experiences didn’t force shoppers to pop on a bulky headset. Some of the big beauty and fashion names that ventured into virtual included Charlotte Tilbury, Farfetch and Intermix. Visiting Charlotte Tilbury’s web site opens shoppers up to more than just their products. Consumers also can book a virtual consultation for advice and guidance on skincare and makeup. The company also features live beauty events; these classes are free, but interested individuals need to register for a ticket. Registration is limited, and, for the lucky individuals who claim a spot, classes offer tutorials and beauty tips (one of the most recent classes focuses on “how to create an airbrush glow”). Farfetch offers shoppers luxury brands at great prices. To add to the shopping experience, however, visitors also can visit the Farfetch AZ Factory. Clicking on this destination gives shoppers a unique experience; a truck opens to reveal a virtual pop-up shop experience. Shoppers can click on a link that directs them to a new collection. In addition, the virtual pop-up shop features interactive elements; visitors can click images in the virtual shop to see future offerings. Intermix, which offers high-end luxury brands like Nanushka, Staud and Balmain (among many others), provides shoppers with the option to virtually interact with a stylist. Many sites offer a customer service rep online, Intermix provides advice onsite. Not sure what shoes to purchase to pair with a particular dress? Ask a stylist! Sites offering online guidance, classes and virtual experience provide customers with a reason to stay engaged with their site. Not only do these enhanced site features add to the user experience and engagement, but they also could encourage return visits and might have an impact on the shopper completing their purchase. In the case of Intermix, offering a stylist online can help shoppers who are on the fence about a particular purchase. If you’re investing in a very high-end garment, the price per wear may be quite high if the item can’t be worn often. Many choose investment pieces for their quality and wearability. A stylist may be able to advise how that item could be paired with other pieces in the wardrobe. Or maybe the stylist could suggest other pieces by the same designer that would complement the potential purchase. Maybe the shopper is unsure what color would best suit their complexion. Offering expertise elevates the experience and can provide guidance and support to a weary shopper. Beauty classes like those offered by Charlotte Tillbury could entice shoppers to try new products. The class about the “airbrush glow” might appeal to someone who wants to try out new looks. Products highlighted and used in the class might encourage more purchases. After all, shoppers who are trying to replicate a look would likely want the products used to create the featured look. A Virtual Reality Showroom Lets Consumers Preview Clothes, Cars & More [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/image.jpeg] VIRTUAL TRY-ON EXPERIENCES Some stores offered a more immersive option for their online customers. Virtual try-on experiences or virtual dressing rooms allowed shoppers to preview outfits when they couldn’t visit the actual store. Business Insider reported that both Adidas and Macy’s offered virtual fitting rooms. So what do these experiences look like? Per Business Insider, shoppers have to download Zeekit, an app that facilitates the virtual experience. Using the app, they can virtually preview their new purchase before buying. However, not all brands are offered via the app; shoppers can find all the available brands via Zeekit’s website. It’s free to download the app! Zeekit’s app is truly virtual. While augmented reality takes a real life background and adds virtual elements as graphic overlays, Zeekit allows users to download a photo and try on clothes in a virtual environment. No goggles or headsets are required! A Virtual Reality Showroom Lets Consumers Preview Clothes, Cars & More [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/image-1.jpeg] VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS The car shopping experience also went online during Covid, and the online car buying experience was likely something new for shoppers. While online shopping for clothes, electronics and other goods has been quite common for decades, buying a car online hasn’t been the norm. Some shoppers may visit several dealerships before finding the car of their dreams…at the right price. And it probably wasn’t uncommon for shoppers to take a few test drives of their favorite cars. Even the models that weren’t favorites might have been perused in the showroom or on the lot. Shoppers probably took a seat behind the wheel or played with unique features in different makes and models. Car buying was truly a sensory experience. Shoppers sat in the car. They explored the many features. And, of course, the waft of new car smell added to the excitement of the potential purchase. Buying a car also meant testing it on the road; did it have a lot of get-up-and-go? Was the car comfortable to drive? All these details likely played a part in the decision. When Covid stopped businesses from operating, many dealerships had to close to foot traffic. Surviving the pandemic and its economic effects meant adapting and taking business online. Dealerships couldn’t let hundreds of shoppers open up the cars, sit inside and take numerous test drives. The shopping experience had to be safe; this meant sanitizing cars before and after test drives, which also might have had to be scheduled ahead of time. Sometimes dealerships even delivered the cars to the customer for a ‘virtual test drive.’ Browsing cars online also had to be accessible and tactile…even when the in-person shopping experience couldn’t be completely replicated virtually. Virtual showrooms were offered by dealerships online to let customers explore the vehicles on their lot. Some dealerships might have just had a photo slideshow, while others had full interactive and immersive showroom experiences. Dealerships that couldn’t offer a virtual showroom online could refer potential customers to RelayCars. The site offered numerous makes and models in a virtual environment. The cars could be rotated for different angles and providing customers with unique vantage points. Paint hues could be changed, and online shoppers could open the doors of the vehicle and look inside at the different features. Although consumers couldn’t physically touch the cars, they could interact with the vehicle online. If they were interested, they could then contact their local dealership for more information about the car or to perhaps schedule a test drive. Virtual showrooms provide customers a way to sort through different models and car options to find their favorites. Interacting with the vehicle—even just virtually—allowed the consumer to collect information about a particular model and decide whether or not they wanted to see the car up close. Some shoppers were happy to keep their car shopping completely virtual. A shopper might have previewed a car via a virtual showroom, scheduled the car to be delivered for a test drive and then completed loan paperwork online, too (if that was an option in their state). Car dealerships even delivered the car to the home! THE VIRTUAL FUTURE Even when Covid becomes a worry of the past, businesses might have pivoted to virtual experiences permanently. Shoppers may once again be able to visit stores in-person and try on clothes, but virtual experiences may always have a place in the user experience. Before Covid, online shopping surged in popularity. According to Statista: “In 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people purchased goods or services online. During the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 3.5 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide….” Online shopping is convenient. For those who just don’t want to drive to the store or simply don’t have the time, online experiences provide a way to find needed—and wanted—items without leaving home. Clothes, makeup and even cars are delivered right to the door. Elevated online experiences may keep visitors engaged with the site. Stylists and other experts may offer their services to provide guidance and advice on purchases. Classes can introduce new experiences to customers and perhaps leave them wanting more products and interactive offerings to add engagement. Those on the hunt for bigger purchases—including a new car—also can utilize virtual showrooms to preview and explore new makes and models, allowing the shopper to whittle down their choices and pursue only the vehicles that are top on their purchase list. Although car shopping may return to in-person experiences, the virtual showroom may continue to be a relevant tool for customers who are just beginning to search for a new vehicle; in the future, dealership visits may be more thoughtful, with consumers knowing ahead of the visit which cars are on their must-have list…and which models don’t meet their needs.
A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress
February 22, 2021
Explore a virtual room. Then explore an elevated alleyway with a step that suddenly has you plummeting. Next, using a virtual flashlight, walk around a dark maze with a figure lurking in certain places. Sounds like a bad dream? It’s actually a science experiment that utilizes virtual reality to test stress response. Each of the above scenarios was what participants experienced during the study. Each scenario progressively injected more stress. The individual’s response was measured throughout each virtual experience. Virtual reality to test stress levels is actually pretty convenient, and, obviously, a safer option than placing an individual in a possible stressful real-life situation. HOW WAS STRESS MEASURED? The study—or experiment—relied on the first two virtual simulations to predict the stress response in the third. Apparently, analyzing the heart rate during the first two stressful situations allowed scientists to guess how participants would react and respond during the, arguably, most stressful situation. Stress was measured via heart rate. According to an article in Science Daily, the stress response also was used to predict the stress outcome of participants when they engaged in another virtual challenge. This time, they had to answer questions (math!) and they were shown the results of other participants. If they answered incorrectly, the virtual floor started to disappear. Researchers concluded that “…the present study emphasizes the power of behavior to predict HRV responsiveness to a subsequent stressful challenge. Thus, in addition to highlighting behavior as a potential stress vulnerability marker, our study contributes a relevant approach to develop diagnostic tests based on VR immersion and machine learning modeling.” While the study looked at stress response to predict future responses, virtual reality also has been used in other—somewhat similar—ways by doctors. A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Virtual-Reality-Test2.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY TO DESENSITIZE FEARS AND HELP PTSD Virtual reality has been used in the treatment of anxiety disorders to help individuals gradually overcome fears and anxiety. Virtual reality provides a safe environment, and allows the therapist to remain in control (in case the patient becomes too stressed). The book “Virtual Reality Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Advances in Evaluation and Treatment” discusses ways that this technology can be used to help those who suffer from agoraphobia or fears of spiders, driving, flying, heights, etc. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) also is being studied regarding effectiveness of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. This type of therapy allows safe exposure to sounds or scenes of combat. In 2010, the United States Army announced “… a four-year study to determine the effectiveness of VRET on active-duty servicemembers returning from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom who are suffering from PTSD.” The study would enroll 120 servicemembers. VIRTUAL REALITY AS A RELAXATION AID While virtual reality is being used to help those who have anxiety or service members who suffer from PTSD, the technology also may be used as a means to guide relaxation. The virtual realm provides a safe way to experience and face events or scenes that create a stress response, but it also can be used to help individuals enjoy some stress-free experiences. In fact, Oculus offers Relax VR, which is a program/experience that allows the individual to enter the virtual realm for guided meditation. Scenes and sounds from the beach, chirping crickets, calming wind and even a relaxing stream can lull a sense of calm during meditation and relaxation. The experience also can be used in spas or maybe even wellness centers. A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Virtual-Reality-Test3.jpg] VIRTUAL RETREATS? Living through a pandemic has forced many individuals to get creative with their social lives. Virtual chats via Zoom or other platforms have taken the place of face-to-face meetups. Even dates have gone virtual. When museums were closed, virtual tours became the next best thing. Maybe you couldn’t walk through the Louvre, but you could take a virtual stroll through the museum’s notable galleries. Even the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling can be viewed virtually. Virtual might not replicate the in-person experience, but when it was the only option, the virtual world was probably a welcome escape from the four walls of home. And with the normalization of the virtual experience, perhaps the future could be marked by more virtual activities. Not everyone has access to the financial means to take luxurious vacations or visit remote retreats for a week of relaxation. That private bungalow on an exotic beach that was once reserved for the one percent might, in the future, be accessible to the other 99 percent, too. Could virtual reality be a ticket to a world that was unknown to many? Especially to those who had limited financial means? As technology becomes more affordable, more individuals have been granted access to the digital realm via the internet and cell phones. Years ago, owning a smartphone was a luxury. Today, the majority of teens have a smartphone. In fact, nearly 100 percent of teens have one. Virtual reality headsets are not owned by everyone, and their price point may be out of range for many budgets. However, as this technology becomes the norm—and it might become the norm—the access to virtual reality may come at a price that many can afford. The movie “Strange Days” depicted a future world where virtual reality experiences became an addictive drug. Users wore a headpiece (a bit like a skull cap) that tapped into their brain. Compact discs held memories, events or activities that users could experience. While virtual reality likely won’t become an addiction, the technology could become a window into new experiences. Imagine using a headset to walk through a museum in Europe. Have the kids put on their headsets, too, and everyone can take a tour. A virtual family outing! Or imagine going on a virtual retreat in a remote island with access to the best fitness experts. Or practice guided meditation with a group of individuals from across the globe. Want to learn how to surf? Maybe you can do that safely with a virtual instructor. Does virtual reality somehow tap into our senses in the future? Can we feel the waves? Smell the ocean? Today’s virtual reality might not have all the sensory experiences of real life, but we also might not be too far off in developing a heightened technology that can recreate the sights, sounds and smells of life. A New Virtual Reality Test Can Measure Your Vulnerability To Stress [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Virtual-Reality-Test.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOPPING, GAMES & EVEN TRAINING Those with access to a virtual reality headset can already take advantage of many cool virtual experiences—even guided meditation. The Climb, for example, allows users to take on virtual climbing challenges, including buildings. Walkabout Mini Golf is a mini golf experience…perfect for quarantine! But virtual reality isn’t just about games. The technology also lets users step into other experiences. Businesses use virtual reality experience during employee training; simulations help employees confront situations they may face on the job. And using virtual reality lets employees safely handle stressful experiences. Virtual reality even may help an employee learn how to handle a robbery. Kentucky Fried Chicken uses a virtual escape room format in its training program. KFC also is apparently developing another virtual reality program called “The Hard Way.” A virtual Colonel will be giving directions, per Viar360. While shopping isn’t necessarily a stressful situation, shopping online isn’t quite the same as shopping at the store. Virtual showrooms can provide a simulated in-person experience when the option to venture out is limited. RelayCars allows car shoppers the opportunity to explore their favorite makes and models virtually. Through a virtual showroom, RelayCars lets consumers do a virtual walk around, peek inside the car at all the features and even change the paint hue. This virtual experience was a great resource for new car buyers when dealerships might have been closed to foot traffic during the pandemic. VIRTUALLY DECREASING STRESS ON THE ROAD Virtual reality is even about to creep into our cars. Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible technology might bring virtual avatars into the passenger spaces. Wearing special glasses or goggles, the driver could visualize these companions next to them. Friends and family may join the drive, even when they are across the country. While I2V is still in development, the idea of virtual passengers could be quite comforting for those who are traveling alone. The stress of solo trips cross country and/or long business trips might be reduced if the driver could invite virtual passengers during the drive. In addition, I2V also would allow virtual experts to join the drive to provide instruction on the road. If a driver needed assistance, help would be one seat over. This “service scenario” would allow for drivers to get help during the drive. The technology also would offer a “tourism scenario;” a virtual guide would appear in the vehicle to provide recommendations…maybe they could suggest a restaurant or a museum. While researchers have studied virtual reality as a means to measure stress responses, this technology has wide-reaching and beneficial uses. Virtual reality therapies can be used to help individuals confront fears or even help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Virtual reality also can be used to help provide an immersive relaxation experience in spas. The future of this technology may lead to everyone having access to a headset to explore many new activities, visit different countries or even enjoy the privilege of luxe experiences virtually. Virtual companions or passengers also may be in our future. In all these scenarios, virtual reality can be used to (hopefully) help decrease stress and increase happiness.
How Automotive Brands are Using Virtual Reality to Speed Up Product Development
February 5, 2021
Many consumers have long associated the Hummer brand with not-so-sustainable consumption. But, this auto manufacturer is changing the market’s approach to electric vehicles and technology in one go. With the help of virtual reality technology, General Motors has developed the 2022 GMC Hummer EV in a short amount of time. Since the COVID-19 pandemic sent much of the country’s commercial sphere into their homes, automakers took extraordinary measures to keep all of their staff, partners, and consumers connected. Following Hummer’s development of remote manufacturing for their line of electric vehicles, other automotive brands are following this trend. Now, VR technology has become commonplace in the work areas AND consumer spaces throughout the car sales industry. Read on to learn more about the ways automakers are using virtual reality to improve the speed, cost-efficiency, and overall seamlessness of the manufacturing process. How Automotive Brands are Using Virtual Reality to Speed Up Product Development [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Speed-Up-Product-Development2.jpg] VIRTUAL REALITY FOR AUTOMOTIVE DEVELOPMENT When the world is faced with a collective challenge, some of the best innovation can be born. Virtual reality technology, which was previously almost exclusively for gaming, is now being used to help medical professionals, manufacturers, and other physical trades stay in operation. The industry has been using VR and AR technology in automotive to improve internal processes for years, but leading brands are taking their remote connectivity to a whole new level in 2021 and beyond. GM is just one of the retailers that plan to use this system for primary testing, protypring, and supply chain management in the future. As its own industry, virtual reality within the automotive market is predicted to reach upwards of $14.7 million by the year 2027. This steep incline is promoting core companies in these interconnected spheres to prioritize virtual product development and immersive media throughout the customer experience. Instead of relying on physical models and prototypes to work through operational and exterior tests, digital models are more cost effective and take less time to complete. In fact, using VR during the car development process has helped the Hummer EV production line shave hours (adding up to months) from the development plan. Designing visual components and aesthetic properties is limitless using a tablet in an integrated AR/VR enabled environment. Drawing, sculpting, painting, and refinishing work can be completed with a few pieces of equipment and the user’s imagination. Brainstorming between multiple individuals can be consolidated in a virtual chat room or channel, and the innovation process doesn’t have to stop for a closed office, inclement weather, and other external factors. Forgoing clay busts and traditional design methods allows automakers to focus their primary efforts toward essential aspects of the vehicle’s operation, aesthetic, and engineering. Additionally, moving the workline online allows engineers and technicians to resume work from any properly equipped home office. Using VR headsets and interactive digital whiteboards that are scalable to the size of their work, it’s now possible for technicians to build an entire car without ever stepping foot onto company grounds. How Automotive Brands are Using Virtual Reality to Speed Up Product Development [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Speed-Up-Product-Development3.jpg] GROWTH OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE MARKET DURING COVID-19 While COVID-19 caused a severe market downturn in 2020, the electric vehicle industry still achieved high sales as a result of this remote tech innovation. Compared to the 2.5% market share we saw in the EV market in 2019, the past fiscal year was promising for the growing e-car industry. By streamlining operations across the auto industry workforce and factory spheres, the post-pandemic car sales market is expected to climb to 4.18 million units by next year. The electric car sector is no different, and the addition of thousands of EV charging stations across the country has helped to speed up this growth. Additionally, owning an e-car is more affordable than ever – which pairs well with the recent uptick in interest regarding global sustainability. The rapid increase in electric vehicle adoption across the world prompted auto brands to utilize production methods that maximize time, resources, and costs during a pandemic. While something as simple as access to personal protective equipment can halt the production line, providing creators and professionals with a way to resume operations safely from home played a major role in the success of this growing sphere. United States government officials have also played a part in the expansion of the electric vehicle market, largely with the previous two stimulus packages. The amount of EV charging stations across the country reached more than 70,000 units last year, which also contributed to the collective consumer interest in electric vehicles. To a lesser extent, recent changes in our societal structure have created a barrier between eco-friendly commuters and public transportation. COVID-19 has prompted more consumers to invest in their own personal vehicle, and EV brands are serving as a compromise for those who are moving away from the crowded bus or train. COST-SAVING BENEFITS OF VR IN CAR MANUFACTURING AND SALES Using VR in the car manufacturing industry has created more than a simple solution for saving time during the production process. This is also an effective way for auto retailers to save money on testing, vehicle prototyping, redesigns, rendering, and more. Virtual reality has come a long way from the clunky headset-and-handset combos of previous years. Using sophisticated AI-enabled motion and behavioral tracking, virtual reality systems can completely recreate just about any type of work environment you can think of. Traditional car manufacturing supply chains often require multiple phases of physical modeling and restructuring, adding up to millions of dollars in operational and material costs. Incorporating VR in business practices can drastically reduce the amount of physical equipment and collateral necessary to get the job done. Virtual product development provides each technician with unlimited trials and materials in a fully digital environment. Instead of using clay and polymer modeling, in addition to fully equipped sample vehicles, this virtual solution can be endlessly modified without incurring extra costs. Additionally, using VR as a method for product testing is safer than using physical prototypes on a real-life test course. But, the perks don’t stop once the car is on the market. Not only can the use of AR/VR tech in immersive showrooming boost sales, but this type of sales and marketing strategy has the potential to completely revolutionize a growing auto brand. Customers can interact with detailed elements of the vehicle digitally, and customize their selection in real time. Utilizing virtual reality in the sales experience is a fast and affordable way to generate customer loyalty and increase conversions. The combination of these benefits adds up to a 10% to 15% boost in annual savings for leading auto manufacturers. How Automotive Brands are Using Virtual Reality to Speed Up Product Development [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Speed-Up-Product-Development.jpg]Futuristic interface of autonomous car. Graphical user interface. Head up display. CONSUMER USE OF VR IN ELECTRIC VEHICLES Virtual reality is being used to create new vehicles, and it’s also being built into the driver’s seat of many up-and-coming electric models. Just like online consumers are gaining an interest in immersive reality on social media, those same demographics are looking for more ways to integrate interactive media into their daily lives. Leading automakers like General Motors incorporate virtual and augmented reality experiences for their consumers, as well as their staff. Virtual reality technology allows drivers and passengers to enjoy a higher level of control over their method of transportation. The advent of self-driving capabilities have opened this market even wider, taking hands-free entertainment to a whole new level. Navigation screens are getting wider, and safer line-of-sight projections are taking the place of traditional dashboard displays. Voice-enabled mobile assistance that syncs to your mobile devices can allow you to access your calls, texts, and even social media feeds without taking your attention from the road. Additionally, this same technology can make it easier for driver’s to predict and circumvent dangerous situations such as: * Road blocks * Traffic jams * Collisions * Natural disasters * Pedestrians * Updated routes and construction sites Virtual reality technology is not only making the driving experience more fun, but it’s also helping everyone inside and outside of the car stay safe and out of harm’s way. From start to finish, VR systems have a heavy hand in the electric vehicle market – and that change is showing no signs of slowing down. Consumers are becoming accustomed to the increased ease of use, mobile connectivity, and overall experience of a VR-equipped cab. Additionally, auto brands are taking the opportunity to tap into this growing consumer market while reducing their own operational costs simultaneously. By recreating virtually any environment regardless of the amount of space allotted, automakers meet consumer demand in a massive wave. This lightning-speed development of this corner of the market has the potential to grow exponentially as VR technology continues to expand. If you’re looking into buying or leasing an electric vehicle in the next year, you’ll be sure to see these changes throughout the shopping, production, sales, and even ownership processes
Virtual Reality May Make Remote Collaboration Easier
February 1, 2021
There are many benefits to working remotely. Remote employees are able to work more flexible schedules and avoid lengthy commutes to the office. Employers, on the other hand, can reduce overhead costs and boost employee morale by giving employees the option to work remotely. Of course, there are some drawbacks to remote work as well. But it is up to employers to identify and address these challenges to ensure their remote employees are successful. Fortunately, the results of a new study indicate that virtual reality technology could be the solution to one common remote work challenge. Here’s what employers need to know: THE CURRENT STATE OF REMOTE WORK Remote work has become increasingly popular over the last several years. But in 2020, there was an unprecedented surge in remote work caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey revealed that one-third of the U.S. workforce is now working remotely all the time, and one-quarter of the U.S. workforce is working remotely sometimes. Participants who responded that they sometimes work remotely spend an average of 11.9 days per month working from home. In other words, even those who only “sometimes” work remotely are spending about half of their workdays every month working from home. The growing popularity of remote work may have been sparked by the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean this trend will disappear once the coronavirus crisis has been resolved. Even employers that were hesitant to allow their employees to work remotely have come to embrace it. In fact, 83% of companies believe that the shift to remote work has been a success. Furthermore, fewer than one in five executives say they want to return to working out of the office five days a week once the pandemic is over. Based on this data, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Because remote work will continue in some form even after the COVID-19 crisis is over, it’s important for employers to make an effort to help their employees overcome these challenges. Remote Collaboration [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Remote-Collaboration-1.jpg] WHAT ARE COMMON REMOTE COLLABORATION CHALLENGES? Most remote workers rely on video call platforms such as Zoom or Skype to collaborate with one another on various projects and tasks. But the results of a new study revealed that remote workers are becoming increasingly frustrated and unhappy with video calls. HTC Vive recently surveyed employees in the United Kingdom to learn more about the challenges that they face when working remotely. One-third of survey respondents reported that they were exhausted as a result of countless hours of video calls. Nearly half of those surveyed also admitted that they would prefer meeting face-to-face with co-workers instead of meeting on a video call. Another survey revealed that 45% of remote workers reported attending more meetings while working from home than when in the office. This statistic highlights how much time remote workers are spending on video calls with co-workers, which could explain their growing frustration. Even though these results reveal that remote workers desire more face-to-face interaction, it’s unlikely that they will get their wish granted any time soon. Returning to the office—or meeting co-workers in other locations—is still too risky due to the threat of contracting COVID-19. Even after the pandemic is over, employers may choose to continue remote work, so employees may need to adapt to working remotely all the time or some of the time. Face-to-face interaction might be out of the question for now, but there is another way to help remote workers avoid video call fatigue while also giving them the personal interaction they desire. Some experts believe that virtual reality technology could be the solution to this problem. Remote Collaboration [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Remote-Collaboration-2.jpg] HOW REMOTE WORKERS CAN USE VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY The term virtual reality refers to the technology that is used to transport users to a computer-generated simulated environment. Users aren’t simply viewing the simulated environment on a screen in front of them. Instead, users are fully immersed in the simulated world and able to interact with various elements of this virtual environment. This technology has been used in the gaming industry for years, but it has many other applications as well. Now, experts are starting to see the value of using virtual reality technology to make the remote work experience easier for employees. For example, virtual reality technology could help employers address remote workers’ discontent with video calls. Instead of using Zoom or Skype to meet via video call, employers could allow their remote workers to host virtual meetings powered by virtual reality technology. Employees could transport themselves to a simulated environment by putting on a virtual reality headset. Using this headset, employees would be able to meet with one another in a virtual meeting room, which could be designed to look exactly like a traditional meeting room in a corporate office. The technology would make them feel like they were actually inside a meeting room rather than sitting at their home in front of a computer screen. Each attendee could take a seat at a virtual table inside the room. They could take a look around the room to see other attendees—just like they would if they were meeting in-person. Then, they could conduct a virtual meeting in the same way that they would conduct an in-person meeting. They could even take notes on a virtual whiteboard located in the front of the virtual meeting room. Remote Collaboration [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Remote-Collaboration-3.jpg] WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY FOR REMOTE WORK? There are a number of benefits to allowing remote workers to use virtual reality technology to attend virtual meetings. Attending a virtual meeting is not exactly the same as attending an in-person meeting. However, it’s close enough to the real thing to satisfy remote workers’ desire for more face-to-face interaction with their co-workers. In a virtual meeting, they will be able to see and interact with virtual representations of their co-workers, which will make it seem as if they are actually meeting with their co-workers in-person. This will help remote workers feel more connected to their co-workers even when they are working far apart. Using this technology could also lead to better collaboration among remote workers. A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that employees are more connected to content and focused when using virtual technology as opposed to other types of technology. Virtual reality creates an environment that is more conducive to collaboration. Only one person can speak at a time on video calls, but this isn’t the case in a virtual meeting. Employees won’t need to worry about muting and unmuting themselves whenever they need to talk. Instead, they can simply speak up when they have something to say, just like they would in a real in-person meeting. Plus, employees won’t need to get dressed to make themselves presentable for a video call. In a virtual meeting, attendees will only be able to see virtual representations of each other, so it doesn’t matter if employees stay in their pajamas all day. Attending a virtual meeting can also benefit remote workers who feel like they are trapped at home. Even though they aren’t physically leaving their home, attending a virtual meeting will make them feel as if they were in a new environment. These are some of the many reasons why employers should consider utilizing this technology to make remote workers’ lives easier. WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO THE ADOPTION OF VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY? Using virtual reality to help remote workers collaborate may seem like a no-brainer, but there are some barriers that could stand in the way of the widespread adoption of this technology. First, there is still a limited understanding of how this technology works and more importantly, how it could be used to benefit remote work collaboration. This technology has been around for a long time, but many people are still unfamiliar with it. Those that are familiar with it often assume that it is only used in the gaming industry, which is far from the truth. As a result, it could be difficult to get decision-makers on board with the idea of adopting this technology. The cost of this technology could also prevent widespread adoption. Employers who want to utilize this technology for virtual meetings must be willing to invest in virtual reality headsets for their employees. They must also be willing to invest in building a platform that allows their remote workers to meet virtually in a secure environment. Creating a secure environment is always important, but it’s crucial if employees are going to discuss sensitive company information during these virtual meetings. Another barrier is the lack of awareness of remote work challenges among employers. Some employers have not taken the time to understand what challenges their employees are dealing with in a remote work environment. If they don’t understand these unique challenges, they won’t be motivated to address them with virtual reality technology. These are serious barriers that could prevent the widespread adoption of virtual reality technology. However, if experts are correct in predicting that remote work is here to stay, companies may need to break down these barriers in order to use virtual reality technology to make remote work easier for their employees.
Why and How Virtual Reality is Growing?
January 29, 2021
Virtual reality is essentially a simulation of sorts. It gives people the very realistic impression that they are in a certain simulated scenario, such as riding a roller coaster or driving a car. They can even interact with this simulated world in different ways depending on the technology that’s in use. Headsets, special gloves, and other sensor-filled devices are common examples. While this type of technology, to a lesser degree, has actually been around and talked about for quite some time, it’s only recently that it’s had a major surge in popularity. The question many people have, though, is why and how? The answer is multi-faceted and says a lot about the modern world. MOBILE-BASED OPTIONS When the concept of virtual reality was first developed, it wasn’t in a very practical way. Any type of truly impressive virtual reality experience would cost people a lot of money and would require the use of very complex technology, most of which was difficult to get and impossible to house, at least for the average person. But just as computers went from huge machines to tiny things people hold in their hands and carry everywhere, virtual reality has become more mainstream and accessible in recent years. A major reason for this is how easy it is to integrate VR Into mobile devices, like Smartphones and tablets, which just about every person has. With this technology more accessible than ever before, it’s no surprise that VR has seen a rise in popularity . . . one that shows no signs of slowing down. RESEARCH FROM ALL THE RIGHT PEOPLE Not only is virtual reality becoming more accessible for the average person, but it’s also being backed by more people and, even more importantly, by all the right people. While VR was once very much a niche market, serious investors with major power have started to see its value and potential for use in video games, travel, entertainment, and so much more. For this reason, Google and other leading organizations have started to research and invest in VR technology. This lends credibility to the technology and also opens up an entire world of new possibilities. In fact, there’s a good chance that some of those top-dog investors have big plans in store with VR, plans the rest of the world can’t even begin to fathom yet. Why and How Virtual Reality is Growing? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/How-Virtual-Reality-is-Growing2.jpg] THE AI BOOM Another big reason for VR’s ever-increasing popularity is the growth of another technology: artificial intelligence, or AI. While it’s difficult to definitively pinpoint which one came first, it’s no secret that the two influence and empower one another. As researchers learn more about AI and expand its capabilities and, with that, its possibilities, people become more and more intrigued. And, once people are intrigued with one form of technology, it just makes sense they’d show an interest in another, similar form of technology. As one might expect, there have even been some “marriages” of these two high-tech things. Take, for example, all those Instagram filters that people so love to play around with. The possibilities for interactions between AI and VR abound. And, with people already adopting every iteration of these combined technologies they can get their hands on, it’s not shocking that the growth of both would be positively correlated. INCREASING COSTS AND RISKS Of course, the VR world isn’t all about fun and games. Some of the growth of this technology, in fact, is owed to its practicality and usefulness. For example, take something like employee training. Having to get everyone to a physical location to undergo training can be time-consuming and costly. And, depending on the job at hand, it can also pose a risk, which can lead to liability. Savvy companies have gotten smart and have reduced both risk and cost by using VR to supplement or, in some cases, fully take over their required training. Even some military branches have been known to use VR resources for training. Furthermore, in light of COVID-19 and with more people staying secluded than ever before, another surge in VR is expected to come soon. People want to do things virtually these days, and so do many businesses. With both individuals and organizations on board and in need of the features VR can offer, the “VR boom” just makes sense. Why and How Virtual Reality is Growing? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/How-Virtual-Reality-is-Growing3.jpg] THE ABILITY TO EXPLORE People have also fallen in love with virtual reality because of the opportunity it gives them to see and experience the world around them. Take travel, for example. For many people, traveling to exotic locales is cost-prohibitive. But, if they put on a simple VR headset, they can see anything and “go” anywhere they want. Places that once seemed impossible for them to visit, like the Taj Mahal or even the Grand Canyon, can now be experienced fully through the use of VR. It’s not just travel that can be enjoyed either. People can try on clothes in virtual changing rooms, see how different make-up shades or hairstyles suit them, and even check out potential venues for events all without leaving their homes. This means less expense for people and for companies, which keeps everyone happy. Plus, it adds a sense of adventure into the average person’s life, and who wouldn’t jump at the chance for that? EXERCISE, EDUCATION, AND MORE As you might expect, the possibilities of VR extend beyond just the basics. Not only is VR used for training and exploration, but people are also finding and developing their own unique ways to utilize it. Take exercise, for example. While not everyone feels comfortable going to the gym or taking an exercise class in person, no one minds putting on a headset and exercising in their living room. And, given the pandemic and recent gym closures all over the United States and beyond, it’s no surprise that VR-based exercise has soared in popularity. Some schools have also moved to using VR in the classroom or, in some cases, in lieu of the classroom. The pandemic has also been responsible for a surge in this type of activity. Plus, you have vendors showing off their goods in “virtual showrooms” or using VR to give people full and complete views of their products. As the uses and ideas surrounding VR grow, its popularity and ubiquitousness do too. THE DESIRE FOR LESS INTERACTION Finally, while some people might find it sad, there’s no denying the fact that modern people desire as little interaction with others as possible, or at least real, face-to-face interaction. Most have no problem interacting on social media, during virtual video game play, or in other less intrusive ways. The proof of this is evident all around. People walk through stores with their faces buried in their phones. They almost always choose the self checkout lane at the grocery store, fearing even the most minute interaction with a cashier. Even some restaurants have introduced virtual ordering platforms that require no discussion with the cashier and no tipping of a server. People have shown, even before the pandemic, that they want to have to deal with people less, and for many, VR is the perfect solution. They get to experience the world without any hassle and without any more interaction than they actually desire. As with supply and demand, businesses want to give people what they want. And, if what they want can be accomplished with the use of VR, then it’s not surprising at all that this technology has seen such huge growth in recent years. Why and How Virtual Reality is Growing? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/How-Virtual-Reality-is-Growing.jpg] LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Since VR has shown so much growth as of late and since recent events, such as the pandemic, have spurred its usefulness, continued growth is expected. What’s more is that not only should VR become more prevalent, but it should also become even more advanced. Like most forms of modern technology, it’s just projected to get better and better until it’s almost unrecognizable from its rudimentary roots. For some people, this is seen as something sad or disappointing. They see it as a further disconnect from the world we once inhabited. Others, however, look at VR and the growth of other similar technologies and see it as progress. And, no matter where a person falls on this spectrum, the fact remains that progress will always continue. The key, then, is simply to embrace it. And, for the most part, that seems to be exactly what is happening with VR. In fact, pretty soon, it might not be “virtual” reality at all, but just a new kind of reality altogether.
Virtual Reality: Is It the Answer to Zoom Fatigue?
January 25, 2021
Remote work has become increasingly popular over the years. But last year, remote work grew exponentially as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It’s estimated that 42% of the U.S. workforce is currently working remotely. According to a recent survey, 80% of employers are going to continue to allow their employees to work from home at least part of the time even when it is safe to return to the workforce. Based on this data, it’s clear that remote work won’t simply fade away once the pandemic is over. Because remote work is here to stay, it’s important for employers to address several issues that remote employees encounter in their new work environment. One of these issues is Zoom fatigue, which refers to remote workers’ frustration with having to attend countless video calls throughout the workweek. One company recently conducted a survey of 1,000 remote workers in the United Kingdom. Over one-third of the respondents admitted that they were exhausted due to hours of voice calls and meetings. Nearly half of the respondents revealed that they would prefer more face-to-face interactions with their co-workers over voice calls on Zoom. These results indicate that remote workers are clearly open to Zoom alternatives that will give them an opportunity to interact with their co-workers face-to-face. Meeting in person is not an option for many remote workers right now. But there is one other way to beat Zoom fatigue once and for all: virtual reality technology. WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY? Virtual reality is technology that transports users into a simulated environment. Users aren’t just watching a simulated environment on a screen. Instead, they are fully immersed into the environment and able to interact with different elements of their simulated surroundings. Users typically need to wear a virtual reality headset device in order to experience virtual reality technology. Some of the most popular virtual reality headsets on the market are the Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, and Google Cardboard. Virtual Reality: Is It the Answer to Zoom Fatigue? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-233.jpeg] The simulated world created by virtual reality is often so like-like and real that users often experience what is known as “VR presence.” This is a phenomenon that occurs when virtual reality tricks your senses into believing that what you are virtually experiencing is what you are actually experiencing in real life. If this phenomenon occurs, your body will respond to virtual stimuli. For example, if you are standing on the ledge of a virtual mountain, you may find that your brain will not allow your body to step off the virtual ledge. Even though you’re safely standing on carpet in the real world, your brain has been tricked into thinking you’re actually on the edge of a mountain and in danger of falling. Although virtual reality is often associated with the gaming industry, this technology has been used in a wide variety of industries. Virtual reality is not all fun and games—it has many other useful applications. CAN VIRTUAL REALITY SOLVE THE ZOOM FATIGUE CRISIS? Some experts believe that using virtual reality technology is the best way to resolve the Zoom fatigue crisis among remote workers. How would it work? Instead of scheduling video calls on Zoom, remote workers could meet with each other in a simulated work environment powered by virtual reality technology. For example, the technology could transport a team of remote workers to a professional meeting room with office furniture and a white board. You would be able to look around the simulated environment and see your virtual co-workers just like you would if you were in the office with them. Each of you could take a seat at the virtual table and brainstorm ideas, which could be written on the virtual whiteboard. Unlike on Zoom calls, in this virtual world, you won’t have to listen carefully to a voice to guess who is speaking. Simply look around the room to see which virtual coworker has the floor—just like you would do in a regular office meeting. You also won’t have to mute yourself like you would on a Zoom video call. The entire team would be encouraged to speak freely just as they would in a real face-to-face brainstorming meeting. Because coworkers can see each other on a video call, many of them feel the need to get dressed as if they were going into an office before a Zoom meeting. But this wouldn’t be necessary in a virtual reality meeting since coworkers would only get to see virtual versions of each other rather than a live feed from each co-worker’s home. Virtual reality technology would essentially recreate the experience of meeting with co-workers in an office setting. It’s not exactly the same as actually seeing your co-workers in person, but many remote workers may find that it’s close enough to satisfy their desire for face-to-face interaction. In fact, a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that employees are more emotionally connected and focused when using virtual reality technology compared to other alternatives. If this study is correct, the use of virtual reality technology could help remote workers who are struggling to adjust to the lack of face-to-face interactions in their new, isolated work environment. Virtual Reality: Is It the Answer to Zoom Fatigue? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-234.jpeg] CAN REMOTE WORKERS USE VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY IN OTHER WAYS? Using virtual reality to eliminate the need for Zoom video calls is one of many ways in which this technology can be utilized by remote workers. A number of different companies are already using virtual reality technology to provide training sessions to remote employees. For instance, several automotive manufacturers use virtual reality technology to provide training sessions to assembly line workers. These workers can learn how to manufacture different automotive parts inside this simulated environment. They can also practice manufacturing the parts inside the simulated environment, where it won’t matter if they make a mistake. This way, they can learn from their mistakes inside a safe environment before putting their skills to the test in the real world. Thanks to virtual reality technology, remote workers at automotive companies were also able to design new vehicles without building physical models or meeting in-person. Designers, engineers, and quality control specialists at Ford all relied on virtual reality technology to complete the design of the Mustang Mach-E. Of course, companies outside of the automotive industry are also using virtual reality to help remote workers perform their job duties. Facebook is currently in the process of developing technology that would make it easier for their employees to work from home even if their space is limited. Thanks to this technology, remote workers would not need to make room for multiple monitors in their home office. All they would need is a computer keyboard in front of them. Then, they could put on a virtual reality headset, type on their computer keyboard, and watch as the words appear on virtual monitors. This innovative use of virtual reality technology would help remote workers create a productive and comfortable work environment at home even if there are space limitations. These are some of the ways in which remote workers can use virtual reality technology. But as remote work continues to grow in popularity, it’s expected that companies will think of more new and exciting ways to use this technology to benefit their remote workers. WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BARRIERS TO VIRTUAL REALITY ADOPTION? It’s safe to say that the use of virtual reality technology could help many people overcome common challenges associated with working remotely. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that companies will start implementing these plans right away. There are several barriers that stand in the way of widespread virtual reality adoption. The first is a limited understanding of the technology. As previously mentioned, many people assume that virtual reality is a type of technology that is only used in the gaming world. These people may not understand that virtual reality can be used in other settings, including the business world. The cost of using virtual reality technology could also prevent companies from implementing these strategies. To use this technology, companies must invest in virtual reality headset devices for each of their employees. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-235.jpeg] Companies must also be willing to invest in developing the technology that would allow them to achieve their goals. For example, if they want to give remote workers the opportunity to attend virtual meetings, they must build the technology that would allow their team to meet in a secure simulated environment. The costs associated with this are steep, which means virtual reality technology may not be an option for small- or mid-sized companies. Some companies may not utilize virtual reality technology simply because they don’t understand the issues that their remote workers face. For example, a company may not realize that their remote workers are struggling with Zoom fatigue if they never ask their employees for feedback or encourage their employees to share their opinions and concerns. For now, these barriers could prevent the widespread adoption of virtual reality in the remote workforce. There’s no doubt that remote work will play a major role in the U.S. workforce in the future. But it’s still too early to determine whether virtual reality technology will also make an impact on remote workers’ work environment. However, companies would be wise to invest in this innovative technology in order to increase their remote workers’ job satisfaction and boost morale.
10 Most Influential Women to Follow in VR in 2020
November 27, 2020
While many women have carved a niche in the automotive industry, this sector still is, typically, dominated by men. Women in high-level positions within the automotive industry are rare; women hold less than 20 percent of executive/senior-level positions. However, in 2014, Mary Barra made history when she became the first woman to serve as the CEO of a major automotive manufacturer (General Motors). Other women also are paving the way in this industry and within the virtual reality sector, which is now infiltrating the automotive market. The organization Women in Virtual Reality (or WiVR) highlights the amazing work of women within this industry regularly; check out the site and the work of all members to see the impact and contributions of the women within the industry. Here’s our list of the 10 most influential women to follow in virtual reality, but this list is in no way comprehensive! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-7.png] 1. Dr. Jacquelyn Morie -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. Morie is the founder and chief designer at All These Worlds, LLC. With more than two decades of experience within the virtual reality sector, Dr. Morie has contributed innovative concepts and designs that elevate the virtual space. She designed a scent collar that incorporates the sense of smell into the virtual reality realm. Dr. Morie was one of the founders of the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Simulation and Training; at the institute “…she developed techniques to make VR environments more immersive and emotionally compelling, and helped lead a group of innovative students called The Toy Scouts.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-157.jpeg] 2. Crista Lopez -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Co-founder of Women in Virtual Reality (WiVR), Crista Lopez was the winner of the Pizzagatti Prize, from Tides Foundation for “software in the public interest.” Lopez designed OpenSim, which is used by many non-profit organizations. OpenSim is free to download, making it readily accessible to these organizations. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-8.png] 3. Sarah Hill -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hill tells stories in virtual reality with the company StoryUP and has won the National Edward R. Murrow award and also received numerous Mid-America Emmy Awards for her work. She also created Honor Everywhere, a virtual reality experience for ill or elderly veterans that allows them to see and experience the memorials honoring them. Hill talked about the project to WiVR, stating: “We were trying to find a solution for terminally ill and aging World War II veterans who were no longer able to physically travel to see their World War II memorial in Washington DC. We were doing live streams from Google Glass to laptops in nursing homes and the set up was not too comfortable and so when virtual reality came out, we knew that was a potential solution for some of the men and women who were unable to physically travel….” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-158.jpeg] 4. Orchidee Stachelig -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stachelig is a communications manager for Abylight Studios. She manages relationships with the press and handles social media and other marketing initiatives. Stachelig also was a past editor for Gamesauce. In a profile piece for WiVR, Stachelig was asked about the small number of women in the game development sector, which has been largely dominated by men. Stachelig responded that she felt that “…it is changing.” She also noted that in the Ukraine, tech was mostly perceived as an industry for boys, not girls and this was understood in childhood. But she also acknowledged this was changing. Stachelig also gave some advice to women who might be interested in pursuing a career in game development. She told WiVR: “First of all, do not be scared to give new stuff a try. Secondly, you will eventually get where you want if you have genuine interest in what you are trying and others are doing. The third thing is to do a lot of networking. All the contacts that I have who help me go further, I got through networking and 90 percent of my friends are from the industry.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-159.jpeg] 5. Katie Goode -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Goode is the Creative Director (and one of the founders!) of Triangular Pixels, a game studio that created Unseen Diplomacy, Unseen Diplomacy 2 and Smash Hit Plunder. Unseen Diplomacy was the first HTC Vive game in history to be nominated for a BAFTA (for innovation). In a profile piece for WiVR, Goode also revealed that she also was the recipient of the Devon Venus Award in the category of PR Works Ltd Inspirational Woman in STEMM. 6. Claudia Backus -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Oracle, Facebook, Barnes & Noble…Backus has worked for major companies to design solutions in the digital space. At Facebook, she is the Head of the Portal Content Ecosystem. For Barnes & Noble, she took the standard store to the tablet and ereader and created the digital platform for content. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-160.jpeg] 7. Catherine Allen -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Allen has been hailed as a VR Hero of 2016 and is the founder of Limina Immersive. She served as the Head of Marketing for Disney Animated for the iPad, which won a BAFTA for Best Children’s Interactive Experience. Allen also served as the executive producer for No Small Talk 360 for the BBC, a VR experience geared to women. No Small Talk was especially groundbreaking, as it was “…the first time a major broadcaster has released VR aimed at a primarily female audience.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-161.jpeg] 8. Jannick Rolland -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jannick Rolland is the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering Professor of Optics and Biomedical Engineering and Professor in the Center for Visual Science at The Institute of Optics and Rochester University. She co founded LighTopTech and serves as the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO). In 2014, she was awarded the OSA David Richardson Medal. Her research primarily focuses on three areas: “…(1) optical system design for imaging and non-imaging optics with a current focus on freeform optics, (2) physics-based modeling, and (3) image quality assessment.” In February, Rolland received the Optical Society’s 2020 Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize, which “recognizes significant research accomplishments in the field of optical engineering.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-9.png] 9. Malia Probst -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Known as @TheMalia on Twitter, Probst is a founding partner at VRScout and a cofounder of the WXRFund. Probst hosts VRScout Report, which gives updates and provides the latest news about the virtual reality and augmented reality industry. She also was cited as one of the Top 20 Most Influential People in the VR/AR industry, is one of the Top 20 Women in VR in L.A. and also is among the Top 100 Digital Influencers in the world. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-10.png] 10. Christine Cattano -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As the Global Head of VR and an Executive Producer at Framestore, Cattano is one of the most influential women in the industry. Cattano was the co-founder of the company’s virtual reality studio, which released the augmented reality experience Game of Thrones “Ascend the Wall.” In 2015, she was named in Business Insider’s 30 most creative people in advertising. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-162.jpeg] A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE OF WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY Orchidee Stachelig mentioned in her profile piece to Women in Virtual Reality about the perception of women in the industry. There still exists in many countries a stereotype about women and the industries in which they might excel; these gender-specific stereotypes often dismiss any female interest in technology or STEM careers. As Stachelig mentioned, tech may be perceived—wrongly—as a sector for men. Schools have come to understand the low number of women pursuing STEM careers, and many have looked for ways to encourage young women’s interest in technology, sciences, math and engineering. While site after site and publication after publication will release a list regarding who they feel are among the most influential women in virtual reality, perhaps the true reality of this virtual tech sector is that any woman who crosses into this space, occupies it and leaves her mark is, in her own way, influencing the future. Not just the future of the industry, its creations and innovations, but the future of women in this industry, too. Young girls—young people, in general—need to see progress, they need to see leaders, and they need a mentor. There needs to be someone who goes first, someone who paves the way, who takes the lead. Those people, the individuals who blaze a new path, are the leaders who will help shape the generations that come after them. Girls in elementary school can look to Cattano, Probst, Allen, Goode and every woman on our list and every list of women of influence and see a story of someone who did what maybe they hope to do. The future of women in virtual and augmented reality is every girl sitting in a classroom, learning math, loving it. It’s the girl who is sketching, whose drawings may one day end up in 3D, as part of an explorative virtual adventure. The future is the girl who is gaming with her friends, beating every level, and wondering what could come next. It’s the young girl who is enamored with science, with exploration, with a curiosity that refuses to burn out. So this list, the list of 10 women chosen among so many (who need to be listed somewhere, too!) isn’t a comprehensive catch-all, but, quite simply, a reminder that women hold a place in this industry, that women have left a solid mark. They’ve all done it differently, perhaps even within different segments of the industry. But every woman has, in fact, left a legacy. The automotive sector is still male-dominated. But someone always has to come first to break the mold, to change the tide. General Motors realized that person was Mary Barra. When she became the first female CEO of a major automotive manufacturer, she shattered a glass ceiling into a million shards for girls and young women who were eyeing a place at that table. So the future in virtual reality, in the automotive industry, is a young girl, dreaming of her future. And, one day, that girl won’t just make a list…she will make history.