AR Brings Futuristic Holographic Display Tech To Our Real-life Vehicles
October 28, 2020
Hollywood has definitely played up our fantasy for futuristic cars that do it all. From Star Wars to Iron Man, the Hollywood version of automobiles in the future rely heavily on tons and tons of advanced augmented and virtual reality features such as holographic display tech. Those fantasies might not be too far fetched after all. Many major automotive companies are looking for ways to bring augmented reality (AR) dreams into real-life vehicles. They are reaching out to tech and startup tech companies to incorporate their innovative technology into commercial vehicles. It seems that the big hope in the industry is to create fleets of fully autonomous vehicles. There are some major automotive players like Ford and Tesla already piloting and using autonomous vehicles; however, many of them are still not producing them in a way that is available for mass production and consumption. While the dream of fully autonomous vehicles is still years away, companies are looking to use AR to enhance the driving experience for consumers. One way, AR is making actual progress in vehicles is through holographic display tech in the form of heads up displays. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-108.jpeg] EARLY HEADS-UP DISPLAYS TO HOLOGRAPHIC DISPLAY TECH Heads up displays are often depicted as extremely advanced technology and features in futuristic movies. However, the heads-up display (HUD) is not necessarily new or innovative. Heads-up displays were first created in World War II to help fighter and bomber pilots to focus on looking at the horizon rather than being distracted from looking at maps while in the cockpit. The technology and features that were created to help these war-time pilots we would now consider the heads-up display. These planes had not necessarily new technology incorporated, but actually used technology and adapted it to their vehicles. The true beginnings of the heads-up display as we know it now comes from these adapted fighter planes. Using radar technology, these specialty planes were equipped with a piece of glass right in front of the pilot that displayed the radar information used to identify targets, including an artificial horizon. However, these displays were not commonly used during the war and were reserved for specialized night flyers. POSTWAR ADVANCES Postwar engineers continued to improve and develop this technology for future military aircrafts as well as the commercial aircraft market. However, this development in technology also began to be adapted to automobiles as well. Automakers after the war, many of whom were veterans themselves, began incorporating this early version of a HUD into cars. In the 1960s, General Motors were among the first to develop sketches and drafts of a vehicle with a HUD. However, the actual implementation of a functioning HUD in a commercial car would not come until the 1980s. GENERAL MOTOR’S BREAKTHROUGH IN 1988 General Motors’ Fifty 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertibles featured a heads-up display that projected a digital speedometer and turn-signal indicators on the windshield for the driver. This advancement from GM was made possible through their acquisition of Hughes Aircraft in 1985, which allowed them access to technology that aircrafts were using and adapted them to their commercial vehicles. TODAY’S HEADS UP DISPLAYS Today, heads-up displays are commonplace among luxury vehicles and have come a long way from its original aircraft usage. Many vehicles that have a head-up display can project important driving information like its predecessors such as a speedometer and turn-signal indicators. However, many advancements to the display features have been created such as GPS-guided turn-by-turn directions, blindspot indicators, and even what song is currently playing. While current HUDs have much more information available and advancements, they still have limitations. For one, they can only display a two-dimensional image layered over the driver’s view on the windshield. Some HUDs might allow you to adjust the placement of the display pane, but, visually, there is not much advancement to the display, that might soon change. The next step in HUDs is holographic display tech. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-109.jpeg] WHAT IS HOLOGRAPHIC DISPLAY TECH? But, what exactly is holographic display tech? Essentially it uses augmented reality to overlay an interactive image in front of the driver and on the windshield. These advanced versions of heads-up displays would project more than just a speedometer and would encompass the entire windshield. It would display much more advanced imagery and information for the driver such as mapping and navigation, hazard warnings, and more. Holographic images can help to create a more realistic look to the images displayed and can provide more information that can help drivers. The goal for all of these tech companies is to create HUDs that go beyond just displaying flat images in front of the driver but creating depth in the projections. Depth would allow for the overlaid images to appear as if they are floating in the real world. Currently, HUDs only display a flat image. With holographic display tech, heads-up displays will be able to follow the exact view in front of the driver and graphics will actually curve with the actual curve of streets and will appear as if the images are part of the actual view of the driver not just laid over the windshield. They would enhance the driver’s view and driving experience to make it safer and more enjoyable, not merely display dashboard information. Today, consumers are looking to fulfill their car fantasies that they’ve seen in films. Many major carmakers are betting that Holographic display tech will bring those fantasies to real-life. Major automakers are making huge investments in tech companies to bring this technology to their commercial cars. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-75.jpeg] COMPANIES INVESTING IN AR VEHICLE FEATURES Envisics is just one of those tech companies that are getting million dollar investments from automakers to create holographic display tech that can bring advanced technology to the everyday driver. Hoping to be pioneers in HUDs, Envisics has been working with several major automakers such as Hyundai, General Motors, and Jaguar to bring holographic display tech to the masses. Envisics is currently working with higher end vehicles on the market to integrate this technology. Their initial work with Jaguar Land Rover is predicted to be available by 2023. They are also in the works with Hyudai to incorporate such technology to work with autonomous vehicles that are aimed for release in 2025. With such major investors and the demand for more augmented reality integration, Envisics has seen their valuation boost to over $250 million. Along with Evisics, other tech companies are getting into the market and collaborating with major automakers to try and be the first to incorporate more advanced HUDs to commercial vehicles. WayRay and Falcon AR are also working to create more advanced HUDs with holographic display tech. WayRay hopes to take it even further and allow for an entire windshield display that can be split for driver and passenger screens. The company is also playing with the idea of allowing advertising opportunities onto their displays much like social media dashboards on smartphones. The future of the automotive industry is clearly relying on augmented reality technology to help boost competition and increase sales. Holographic display tech could be in consumer’s grasp soon and is a way to test the waters for major automakers when it comes to integrating augmented reality into vehicles designed for mass production. But, there are also many other ways AR is being utilized in the industry today and potential for its future usage in the automotive industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-110.jpeg] FUTURE OF AR IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Augmented reality might not necessarily be synonymous with the automotive industry; however, the two industries have found a natural and mutually beneficial relationship. The automotive industry is already using AR in many aspects. From car design to sales, augmented reality has found a lasting role in the industry. Many automakers utilize augmented reality in their design process to allow car designers to create and innovate easily and quickly. AR has become especially useful when it comes to the selling of commercial vehicles. Many dealerships have incorporated the technology to their online selling platforms. Using virtual showrooms, dealerships can incorporate augmented reality into their online buying experience. Potential buyers can browse and view available vehicles. However, this is far from just a normal online buying experience. Virtual reality companies like RelayCars are creating virtual showrooms that are creating a much more immersive and engaging online shopping experience for consumers. Virtual showrooms can allow buyers to view the inside of a vehicle as if they are actually inside the car. This gives buyers a chance to become familiar with a car before even stepping into the dealership. Automakers know that in order to increase sales and meet consumer demand they must innovate and move forward. Using AR and virtual reality, they can bring to life the car fantasies of Hollywood that consumers long for. They are already embracing ways to use advanced technologies to make our vehicle experience more interactive and immersive than ever before. From Envisic’s holographic display tech to RelayCars’ virtual showroom, augmented reality and the auto industry are truly pushing where technology will bring our world in the future.
How Ford is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
October 26, 2020
Augmentative and virtual reality has long been talked about as the way that will propel the automotive industry into the future. More and more consumers are demanding for more enhanced safety and driving features in their vehicles. The demand for autonomous vehicles such as for ride-sharing services is also increasing. The way to get to this future for automobiles? Augmentative and virtual reality is how automakers are going to make these car fantasies reality. Many automakers are investing billions into tech companies that are hoping to create programs and tools to enhance future vehicles. Ford is one of those automakers that hopes that spending money on tech will help them build a stronger consumer base and put them at the lead in the race for autonomous vehicles. Ford is one of many leading automakers that are embracing augmentative and virtual reality. The automaker is utilizing new advances in technology in almost every aspect of their vehicles. From designing and manufacturing to selling and displaying, Ford is incorporating both augmentative and virtual reality features to help enhance their manufacturing and buying experiences. DESIGNING CARS In order to create a more efficient and streamlined design process, Ford has started using Microsoft’s augmented reality tech, HoloLens which can be used for commercial and industrial applications. For Ford, HoloLens has given their designers and engineers the ability to work together seamlessly to quickly create new car designs. Using holographic goggles, designers can overlay 3-D elements onto a clay model of a vehicle then quickly evaluate and create new car designs. For the most part, the program is only being used to work on details on a vehicle. The overall design of the vehicle is still done through clay modeling and then designers can manipulate, add, and alter detailed designs. They can work simultaneously with engineers to help streamline the process. According to Craig Wetzel, Ford’s manager of design technical operations, the process of designers implementing changes then sending it off to engineers then getting feedback than having to redesign is the main reason designing a new vehicle is such an arduous process. “That takes time, and we find ourselves out of phase there a lot. But placing engineering and design in the same space, a process we call co-creation, streamlines that interaction,” Wetzel says. The process not only becomes more efficient but allows for much more creativity, and according to Wetzel also makes the creating process much more fun for designers and engineers on the team. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-103.jpeg] DISPLAYING / SELLING CARS Ford is not only using augmented and virtual reality in their design process, but they are also implementing advanced technology into the way they display and sell their vehicles. In 2017, Ford demonstrated how augmented reality can be used in a way to help buyers experience the features of a vehicle from a whole new way. “Think of augmented reality as the blending of virtual reality with real life,” says Garett Carr, Ford global auto shows manager. “It’s like having x-ray vision with the power to take people deeper into our product and technology stories- it feels a little like magic.” Ford is betting on that augmented reality magic to help sell their vehicles in an innovative way. Through augmented reality, the cars appear transparent and show all the features hidden beneath the car. Offering viewers a high-tech view of all the inner workings and features of the Ford vehicle. Carr had mentioned that part of the challenges of selling and introducing a new vehicle at an auto show was that consumers were previously only able to view the outside of a car. They had no way to view the actual final parts of the inner workings of a vehicle. However, with the new augmented reality technology has allowed consumers to see anything and everything they want of a vehicle without having to wear headsets or even seeing it physically. Ford also displayed the use of virtual reality by creating a virtual space to display the new features of their vehicles such as the 10-speed automatic transmission on the F-150 and created a wind-tunnel effect over the Ford GT Supercar to exhibit the car’s active aerodynamics. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-104.jpeg] The overall experience allows consumers to get a more interactive and engaging experience when viewing new vehicles without having to test drive them. This helps consumers learn about the new features of a car and also allows Ford to gauge consumer wants and save on vehicle mileage on new models. These same technologies are similar to their virtual showroom where consumers can build and price their potential vehicles. You can get a complete view and pricing of the exact vehicle that you want. While the experience on their retail site might be a paired down version of their auto show display, it still helps consumers view a vehicle inside and out. This can help them make a more definite purchase when they finally do visit a dealership. You can even view how some cars would look in your driveway! Many Ford dealerships are also utilizing virtual reality to enhance their showroom experience online. Using programs such as RelayCars, dealerships can sell and display vehicles using a virtual showroom. Shoppers can view and see all the details of a vehicle before even stepping foot into a dealership. This can help sellers lock in sales right away as the buyer comes in more informed and likely more committed to buying or leasing a vehicle. MAINTENANCE AND TECHNICIANS Ford is also utilizing virtual reality to help with maintenance upkeep in cars and to assist technicians to repair vehicles, especially newer models that require more and more technological programming to repair. In a partnership with automotive supplier Robert Bosch, Ford will provide training for service technicians at dealerships to work on the new Mustang Mach-E electric crossover. This vehicle will include tech that many current technicians might not be trained to work with including a new high-voltage system. Auto repair technicians are starting to need to become computer programmers as well with the amount of software being implemented into vehicles today. However, Ford is working to make auto repair easier and quicker by outfitting their technicians with virtual reality programs that can help them identify problems on a vehicle and repair them quickly. Ford is also implementing them in training programs for technicians. This gives them a chance to see the actual details and understand the components and steps before working on an actual vehicle. Making new Ford technicians even more knowledgeable and experts before even working in the field. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-105.jpeg] IN-VEHICLE FEATURES & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES While much of the augmented and virtual reality that Ford is introducing is relatively new, the automaker has been incorporating this very same technology into their vehicles little by little. Their vehicles include features that many automakers already implement such as rearview cameras to assist with parking, blindspot detection, and more. Eventually, the company hopes to introduce augmented reality to create a windshield dashboard that would help enhance the driving experience. However, Ford is also hoping to get their foot in the game with autonomous vehicles. The automakers have invested $1 billion in a startup tech company, Argo AI to help make autonomous vehicles a reality. Although the company hoped to have an autonomous vehicle service on the road by 2020, they have recently pushed that deadline to 2022. But the company has been testing pilot vehicles and programs in the meantime. As the demand for autonomous vehicles rises, the race to get their vehicles on the road relies solely on perfecting the technology. The most important feature when considering autonomous vehicles using augmentative and virtual reality is safety. A feature that Ford takes seriously and has prioritized in creating their cars. Ford might not be the only major automaker embracing augmentative and virtual reality, but they are certainly using the technology in innovative ways. Their use of the technology will likely have a strong influence in the automotive industry to utilize augmentative and virtual reality more regularly. Many dealerships already are following suit by using virtual showrooms that allow consumers to view more features of a vehicle from the comfort of their own homes. Companies such as RelayCars are helping consumers to view and purchase Ford vehicles before they even go physically to a dealership. A virtual reality showroom can help get consumers to learn more about a vehicle and helps them to make a decision quicker. Augmentative and virtual reality is changing the automotive industry for the better. It allows for more safety features in vehicles and also helps to keep the creating and manufacturing process of vehicles safer as well. Even repair technicians such as Ford’s are utilizing the technology to make their work safer and more streamlined. Although augmentative and virtual reality is still in the early stages of working with automakers, we are likely to see more innovation and influence of this tech in the field for years to come.
The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership
October 23, 2020
People often associate augmented reality technology with the gaming industry, but the truth is that this technology is used in many other industries as well. Augmented reality has been embraced by businesses in various industries, including healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, and retail. Now, it seems media companies may also be ready to use this technology to enhance the consumer experience and grow their businesses. The New York Times recently announced a multi-year partnership with Facebook to create “augmented reality driven reporting.” The two companies will work together to develop a series of augmented reality filters and effects that will be available to users on Instagram. The goal of this project is to help Instagram users connect with and gain a deeper understanding of The New York Times’ journalism. A HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK The fact that The New York Times and Facebook are working together may come as a surprise to some, given the rocky relationship that the two companies have had over the years. In 2017, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a feature designed to help media companies create fast, interactive stories that could be published directly on the social media website. The New York Times was one of countless other media companies to participate in the launch of this new feature. But it was also one of the first companies to pull out after coming to the conclusion that it was a one-sided deal that did not benefit the publisher. This isn’t the only time that Facebook and The New York Times haven’t seen eye-to-eye. The former CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thompson, lashed out at Facebook in 2018. Thompson criticized Facebook’s policies that characterized certain news stories as political or partisan content. The CEO argued that this policy failed to recognize the difference between politics and reporting on politics, which in his opinion, was harmful to journalism as a whole. Facebook may not have been responsive to these criticisms at the time, but recently, the company has taken a new interest in forging strong relationships with media companies. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company was committed to doing a better job of supporting journalism. This partnership with The New York Times marks a step in the right direction if the company still wants to achieve this goal. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-100.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PROJECT COME TO LIFE? Launching this augmented reality project has truly been a team effort for Facebook and The New York Times. The publisher’s in-house advertising agency, T Brand, has incorporated augmented reality technology into promotional campaigns in the past. But The New York Times did not turn to the T Brand team for assistance with this project. Instead, The New York Times created an Augmented Reality Lab within the company’s research and development unit to bring this project to life. The Augmented Reality Lab is operated by more than a dozen employees of The New York Times. The team at the Augmented Reality Lab are responsible for developing the filters and effects that will be used on Instagram. The filters and effects will be created using Spark AR Studio, which is a platform for developers that is owned and operated by Facebook. The teams from Facebook and The New York Times will collaborate throughout every step of the development process. Facebook will be working closely with the Augmented Reality Lab team to help them understand the best ways to utilize Spark AR Studio technology. In return, the Augmented Reality Lab team will provide Facebook with feedback on what features to add to Spark AR Studio and how to improve the overall user experience. Even though this project is a partnership, The New York Times has made it very clear that its staff will remain in full control of the editorial content featured on Instagram. This means Facebook will not have a hand in creating the content that is paired with these augmented reality effects and filters. Furthermore, The New York Times will have full control over the design of the effects and filters. In addition to allowing The New York Times to use its Spark AR Studio technology, Facebook will also be providing financial support to this project. However, the terms of the agreement have not been made public, so the amount of money that Facebook is investing into this project is unclear. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-101.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP AFFECT THE USER EXPERIENCE? The augmented reality effects and filters developed by The New York Times will create a more exciting and engaging user experience for consumers. The full catalog of augmented reality effects and filters will be available on the @NYTimes Instagram page. To see the complete collection of effects and filters, users will simply need to visit the “effects” tab on the @NYTimes account page. By tapping on an effect or filter, users will be able to read small snippets of information about current events. The small snippets of information will be superimposed over backdrops created using augmented reality technology. For example, a user who visits the @NYTimes Instagram account may see that the first story found on the “effects” tab is related to air pollution. If the user taps on this story, they will be able to read small snippets of information regarding how the levels of air pollution have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These snippets will be superimposed over an augmented reality backdrop that shows polluted air in a major city. In addition to simply viewing the effects and filters in this manner, users can also overlay the effects and filters onto their own images and videos to share with their followers. This gives users the opportunity to create their own unique content using The New York Times’ augmented reality technology. Plus, it is an easy way for users to share information on newsworthy topics with their followers. Neither The New York Times nor Facebook has discussed how many effects and filters will be created as part of this partnership. But The New York Times has revealed that the first group of effects and filters that will be available will be related to air pollution, the California wildfires, and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS PARTNERSHIP? The New York Times could benefit from this partnership with Facebook in a number of ways. First, The New York Times hopes that this will make journalism—and staying on top of current events in general—more exciting and appealing to consumers who otherwise would not be exposed to these topics. Encouraging users to create their own unique content and share it with their followers is a great way to introduce The New York Times to new consumers on Instagram. The publisher also hopes that the augmented reality effects and filters will help consumers connect with news stories in a more meaningful way. The technology has the power to transport consumers to another world and allow them to see what the story is about for themselves. They won’t have to visualize the devastating effects of the California wildfires, for example. Instead, the technology will help them see it with their own eyes in a way that photographs and video footage simply cannot. As a result, these news stories may have more of an impact on users. The partnership also solidifies The New York Times’ position as one of the most innovative companies in the news industry. Throughout the years, The New York Times has experimented with virtual and augmented reality on a smaller scale. But this project sends a clear message to competitors that The New York Times is not afraid to go big or go home when it comes to incorporating new technologies into their marketing strategies. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-102.jpeg] WHY IS THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP IMPORTANT? As previously mentioned, The New York Times has dabbled in the use of augmented reality technology in the past. But this augmented reality partnership with Facebook is noteworthy for three reasons. First, this partnership represents a massive expansion of the use of augmented reality technology in the media industry. Expanding the use of this technology in the media industry could introduce countless consumers to augmented reality for the very first time. This could drive substantial growth in the global augmented reality market in the years ahead. Second, The New York Times only used augmented reality technology on its own website in the past. This project marks the first time that The New York Times will publish content enhanced by augmented reality technology on other websites. By publishing this enhanced content on Instagram, The New York Times could transform the way that social media users consume news stories and other content. Finally, the partnership could help bring the tech industry and publishing industry closer together. If this partnership is successful, other media companies may be more inclined to work with tech companies to incorporate innovative technologies into the products and services offered to consumers. It’s too early to evaluate the success of this project, but The New York Times remains hopeful. In fact, the publisher stated that they hope to be able to create countless other filters for the Instagram platform in the future. But regardless of the outcome, this project is yet another example of how companies are using augmented reality to create a more positive consumer experience and grow their business.
The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership
October 23, 2020
People often associate augmented reality technology with the gaming industry, but the truth is that this technology is used in many other industries as well. Augmented reality has been embraced by businesses in various industries, including healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, and retail. Now, it seems media companies may also be ready to use this technology to enhance the consumer experience and grow their businesses. The New York Times recently announced a multi-year partnership with Facebook to create “augmented reality driven reporting.” The two companies will work together to develop a series of augmented reality filters and effects that will be available to users on Instagram. The goal of this project is to help Instagram users connect with and gain a deeper understanding of The New York Times’ journalism. A HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK The fact that The New York Times and Facebook are working together may come as a surprise to some, given the rocky relationship that the two companies have had over the years. In 2017, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a feature designed to help media companies create fast, interactive stories that could be published directly on the social media website. The New York Times was one of countless other media companies to participate in the launch of this new feature. But it was also one of the first companies to pull out after coming to the conclusion that it was a one-sided deal that did not benefit the publisher. This isn’t the only time that Facebook and The New York Times haven’t seen eye-to-eye. The former CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thompson, lashed out at Facebook in 2018. Thompson criticized Facebook’s policies that characterized certain news stories as political or partisan content. The CEO argued that this policy failed to recognize the difference between politics and reporting on politics, which in his opinion, was harmful to journalism as a whole. Facebook may not have been responsive to these criticisms at the time, but recently, the company has taken a new interest in forging strong relationships with media companies. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company was committed to doing a better job of supporting journalism. This partnership with The New York Times marks a step in the right direction if the company still wants to achieve this goal. The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-242.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PROJECT COME TO LIFE? Launching this augmented reality project has truly been a team effort for Facebook and The New York Times. The publisher’s in-house advertising agency, T Brand, has incorporated augmented reality technology into promotional campaigns in the past. But The New York Times did not turn to the T Brand team for assistance with this project. Instead, The New York Times created an Augmented Reality Lab within the company’s research and development unit to bring this project to life. The Augmented Reality Lab is operated by more than a dozen employees of The New York Times. The team at the Augmented Reality Lab are responsible for developing the filters and effects that will be used on Instagram. The filters and effects will be created using Spark AR Studio, which is a platform for developers that is owned and operated by Facebook. The teams from Facebook and The New York Times will collaborate throughout every step of the development process. Facebook will be working closely with the Augmented Reality Lab team to help them understand the best ways to utilize Spark AR Studio technology. In return, the Augmented Reality Lab team will provide Facebook with feedback on what features to add to Spark AR Studio and how to improve the overall user experience. Even though this project is a partnership, The New York Times has made it very clear that its staff will remain in full control of the editorial content featured on Instagram. This means Facebook will not have a hand in creating the content that is paired with these augmented reality effects and filters. Furthermore, The New York Times will have full control over the design of the effects and filters. In addition to allowing The New York Times to use its Spark AR Studio technology, Facebook will also be providing financial support to this project. However, the terms of the agreement have not been made public, so the amount of money that Facebook is investing into this project is unclear. The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-243.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP AFFECT THE USER EXPERIENCE? The augmented reality effects and filters developed by The New York Times will create a more exciting and engaging user experience for consumers. The full catalog of augmented reality effects and filters will be available on the @NYTimes Instagram page. To see the complete collection of effects and filters, users will simply need to visit the “effects” tab on the @NYTimes account page. By tapping on an effect or filter, users will be able to read small snippets of information about current events. The small snippets of information will be superimposed over backdrops created using augmented reality technology. For example, a user who visits the @NYTimes Instagram account may see that the first story found on the “effects” tab is related to air pollution. If the user taps on this story, they will be able to read small snippets of information regarding how the levels of air pollution have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These snippets will be superimposed over an augmented reality backdrop that shows polluted air in a major city. In addition to simply viewing the effects and filters in this manner, users can also overlay the effects and filters onto their own images and videos to share with their followers. This gives users the opportunity to create their own unique content using The New York Times’ augmented reality technology. Plus, it is an easy way for users to share information on newsworthy topics with their followers. Neither The New York Times nor Facebook has discussed how many effects and filters will be created as part of this partnership. But The New York Times has revealed that the first group of effects and filters that will be available will be related to air pollution, the California wildfires, and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS PARTNERSHIP? The New York Times could benefit from this partnership with Facebook in a number of ways. First, The New York Times hopes that this will make journalism—and staying on top of current events in general—more exciting and appealing to consumers who otherwise would not be exposed to these topics. Encouraging users to create their own unique content and share it with their followers is a great way to introduce The New York Times to new consumers on Instagram. The publisher also hopes that the augmented reality effects and filters will help consumers connect with news stories in a more meaningful way. The technology has the power to transport consumers to another world and allow them to see what the story is about for themselves. They won’t have to visualize the devastating effects of the California wildfires, for example. Instead, the technology will help them see it with their own eyes in a way that photographs and video footage simply cannot. As a result, these news stories may have more of an impact on users. The partnership also solidifies The New York Times’ position as one of the most innovative companies in the news industry. Throughout the years, The New York Times has experimented with virtual and augmented reality on a smaller scale. But this project sends a clear message to competitors that The New York Times is not afraid to go big or go home when it comes to incorporating new technologies into their marketing strategies. The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-244.jpeg] WHY IS THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP IMPORTANT? As previously mentioned, The New York Times has dabbled in the use of augmented reality technology in the past. But this augmented reality partnership with Facebook is noteworthy for three reasons. First, this partnership represents a massive expansion of the use of augmented reality technology in the media industry. Expanding the use of this technology in the media industry could introduce countless consumers to augmented reality for the very first time. This could drive substantial growth in the global augmented reality market in the years ahead. Second, The New York Times only used augmented reality technology on its own website in the past. This project marks the first time that The New York Times will publish content enhanced by augmented reality technology on other websites. By publishing this enhanced content on Instagram, The New York Times could transform the way that social media users consume news stories and other content. Finally, the partnership could help bring the tech industry and publishing industry closer together. If this partnership is successful, other media companies may be more inclined to work with tech companies to incorporate innovative technologies into the products and services offered to consumers. It’s too early to evaluate the success of this project, but The New York Times remains hopeful. In fact, the publisher stated that they hope to be able to create countless other filters for the Instagram platform in the future. But regardless of the outcome, this project is yet another example of how companies are using augmented reality to create a more positive consumer experience and grow their business.
Apple to Add Augmented Reality Content on TV+ Services
October 21, 2020
Television and entertainment services battled for years against digital streaming and online service. However, once they started to adjust business models, the concerns reduced and highly profitable systems evolved such as NetFlix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and of course Apple TV Plus. These masters of streaming entertainment have brought all sorts of variations to the public, from simple streaming services to rewindable live TV, and even the latest movies (often without additional costs). [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-95.jpeg] Therefore, it is hardly surprising that in the hunt for something new and different, Apple has decided to venture into an augmented reality entertainment option. Apple already has much of the hardware in place, including headsets and phones with the required technology to allow augmented entertainment to work perfectly. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-96.jpeg] WHY IS APPLE NOW ADDING AUGMENTED REALITY TV? According to the report from Bloomberg, Apple plans to release this augmented content on its streaming service next year. While it is a novelty and possibly highly entertaining addition to Apple TV Plus, the reason for its launch has some other factors behind it. There have been some rumors that Apple is taking a strong interest in augmented content. They have reportedly been adding chips required for such software to work effectively into their popular phone models and tablet lines, and are also working on a single headset that could do virtual reality and augmented reality from one device. The potential of smart augmented reality glasses for 2023 is another exciting factor. The move towards augmented content was delayed by COVID19 originally. However, things are now back in motion and there is a likelihood that it will be released next year. HOW WILL AUGMENTED REALITY TV PLUS CONTENT WORK? Although it is possible that in the future we may be watching entire storylines played out in our living rooms, it is likely to be some time before that is realistic. In the case of Apple TV augmented reality, it is likely to come in the form of additional content or possibly simplified scenes of the show that could be augmented into the real world. This could work as personal interviews with the actors and actresses, directors cut clips or action scenes created specifically for augmented reality entertainment. This ‘fun’ twist on normal TV streaming is likely to have two benefits. Firstly, entertained subscribers remain subscribers for longer. If Apple offers something that other services are unable to yet provide, it could also attract new subscribers from their competition. Secondly, as we mentioned earlier, Apple has been working towards an augmented reality headset. THE VERGE reported late 2019 that Apple is planning their augmented products to be released in 2021-2022 for a full headset and 2023 for augmented reality glasses. While the main headset is likely to resemble current offerings, the glasses are going to be designed for long usage periods. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-97.jpeg] WHAT WILL APPLE’S AUGMENTED REALITY HEADSET OFFER? Apple addicts are excited about Apple heading into augmented reality entertainment. There are likely to be some high-quality and powerful devices coming to the Apple lineup. It is expected that the glasses will be thicker than normal glasses, but that the batteries and chipsets will be constructed into the frames. If this is achievable, it will be a revolutionary step for augmented reality. In theory, as these develop, they could be worn all day and present information or entertainment almost anywhere without needing a cell phone. As the information could be overlaid, if the chipsets can be powerful enough, augmented reality glasses could change how we use digital devices. Mobile devices replaced many aspects of computers, radio, TV, gaming consoles, alarm clocks, calendars, flashlights, and more. Augmented reality through smart-glasses could potentially replace many of today’s objects, such as laptops, monitors, TVs, and more. Users will be able to interact with virtual objects using gestures. Initially, it is likely that the computing power would come from a mobile device, but later could be built into the glasses themselves. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-98.jpeg] One interesting twist is that these smart glasses may come with prescription lenses. This would make the experience for people with eyesight issues more enjoyable and also make the glasses a possible replacement for their normal glasses. Mac Rumours also reported that the headset will likely come with “features like 3D scanning and advanced human detection”. Apple seems to be aiming to create a sleeker and more compact headset than those currently available, but with the power to accurately map out and interpret the real-world. It is also suggested in reports that the ‘headset’ could support both virtual realities and augmented reality, without needing to be connected with cables to a computer or phone. It is unlikely, however, that the computing power will be built into the headset. Instead, there will probably be a designated device that wirelessly streams the information to the headset. The software powering these devices is rOS, which is apparently based on IOS, but with a focus on virtual ‘reality’, hence the ‘r’. It is also likely that users will be able to access and download the software directly from within the headsets. The potential for the company to first really make ‘augmented object usage’ mainstream could be huge. Apple augmented reality experiences are already gaining traction, with diverse ways of learning, viewing, and playing. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-99.jpeg] HOW COULD AUGMENTED ENTERTAINMENT DEVELOP? The future of augmented reality is an interesting topic, as so much is potentially possible to achieve with this technology. At the moment, device sizes and costs are hindering mainstream adoption, but as costs reduce and devices become far more compact, potential uses are endless. For entertainment, we could see: * Gaming – started by Pokemon Go, augmented reality gaming is leaping ahead. Now, entire battles can be played out on the living room floor, or you can run around your area killing zombies. * TV – We mention that it could add ‘extras’, but as things develop it could take 3D to another level or have random ‘surprises’ embedded in normal TV. Imagine, for example, a normal horror movie wherein random parts things suddenly jump out of the screen into your living room. If using virtual reality, you could almost literally experience standing in the middle of amazing scenes. * Escapism & Decoration – augmented reality offers the possibility to change your environment. It could be as simple as changing the wall color, to having your living room appear like an underwater paradise. For relaxation and a change from the norm, this is a flexible and fun solution. * Travel – This is an exciting area. Not only can destinations such as museums be enhanced with augmented effects and information, but the journey anywhere can be fun as well. Drives or flights could offer hours of fun entertainment, instead of simply staring out of the window. * Replacement – as devices become more comfortable to wear, the need for widescreen monitors and TVs could disappear. Augmented reality could replace many of the devices we currently use for entertainment. * Real Inside Virtual – We are already starting to see some activities and games where only selected real-world objects are included, but the environment around them is virtual or could be a virtually enhanced version of the real world. * Fun Education – books, the house, our bodies, and more can be explored and brought to life in fun and educational ways via augmented reality. * Participation – Shows or other entertainment could be brought into the home. Users could participate in events, activities, and challenges … just as they have seen them on TV. Not only would it be fun, but it would also give an insight into what show contestants experience. * Promotions – Although we often don’t like adverts or junk mail, augmented reality promotions could be extremely entertaining and information. * Music – See your favorite singer in your living room in full 3D, or have lyrics instantly displayed to whatever songs you hear. * Sports – virtual and augmented reality can help to bring sports to life. From overlaying information to allowing the viewer to be virtually seated courtside. As technologies develop and ideas expand, this could become more than we can currently imagine. However, what is almost certain is that how we see and interact with the world around us is almost certainly going to be augmented in the future. If Apple has its way, the experience will be through lightweight and wireless glasses, enabling comfortable usage for longer.
How Toyota is Using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
October 19, 2020
Toyota has long been one of the leaders in the mainstream auto industry, providing models that appeal to a variety of audiences. Now, they’re applying the newest technological trends to enhance their hybrid models like never before. By integrating the car’s computer interface and the driver’s mobile device, Toyota is bridging the gap between human and machine. IMPROVING ONLINE SHOPPING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY In general, car owners are holding on to their vehicles longer than in previous years. The average car buyer spends more than 6 years between purchases, which would seemingly be bad news for car brands. Toyota has discovered a way to entice buyers in an increasingly narrow market. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, online car shopping rose to more than 75% in 2020. In response to this uptick, Toyota has revamped their showroom experience to better accommodate home-based consumers. To improve the process even more, this AR tool will be accessible without needing to download an app or program. Users can instead just click on a social media post or banner ad to experience an immersive demo from their desktop or mobile device. This interactive digital media tool has the potential to change the way car brands advertise to their audience base, as well as the online shopping behaviors of their consumers. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-91.jpeg] 3D DIGITAL MODELING Since COVID-19 has reduced operations for car lots and dealerships, it’s difficult for a potential buyer to get an accurate walk around of their prospective purchase. Augmented reality imaging technology gives mainstream consumers the ability to see the exterior of a virtual floor model in unprecedented detail, without setting foot in a physical showroom. The majority of car shoppers prefer to conduct at least part of the process digitally in 2020, and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions drive more and more consumers online. AR provides each customer with an immersive virtual showroom and realistic test-drive experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-92.jpeg] ENHANCED PERSONALIZATION AND CUSTOMIZATION Traditionally, prospective auto buyers were shoe-horned into whatever generic, canned shopping experience the dealer was able to provide. With AR/VR displays and mobile networking capabilities, every user is able to personalize their shopping experience to their liking. If someone is shopping for a rugged off-roading vehicle they’ll probably be looking for different features than a soccer mom who wants a practical minivan with a low carbon footprint. From the color of the interior to the paint job and horsepower, Toyota is virtualizing the entire car-buying experience. Buyers with different lifestyles and goals are also typically willing to spend more or less time to handle the process. Someone looking for a niche, lifelong investment might require a higher level of customisation compared to someone looking for a baseline commuter car. Using VR/AR and AI to build the customer’s experience as it learns about their behaviors and preferences allows car brands to remove the fluff from their marketing and selling strategies. MIXING REALITY WITH THE DIGITAL WORLD Toyota is one of the leading car brands that is partnering with growing tech innovators to expand their market reach. Using devices created by both Unity and Microsoft, Toyota is providing customers across their diverse customer base with more connectivity and personalization power than ever before. 360-degree imagery, motion-responsive mobile tech, and external noise cancellation are just a few features that make it possible to really imagine yourself in the media you’re consuming. Buyers can virtually park the car in their garage or in front of their house to see how it will look in real life. They can also rotate, zoom, and manipulate the digital 3D image for an even more detailed look. To tap into multiple facets of the augmented reality and virtual reality markets, Toyota is targeting wearable and smartphone users. This means that shoppers have even more options when it comes to interacting with Toyota’s ecommerce platforms, customer service teams, and even social media advertisements. CUTTING COSTS FOR DEALERS Augmented reality and virtual reality are not only improving the ownership experience better for buyers and manufacturers, but dealers are also saving money with this innovative tech development. By extending the browsing, testing, and auto financing processes to the consumer’s home, sellers can reduce operating costs by eliminating the need to keep a vast physical inventory or an in-person showroom. Dealers and sellers can also cut costs by trimming their employee training programs. Replacing in-person labs and classes with virtual reality-hosted training sessions will reduce the amount of money companies need to spend on staffing and operational expenses. A single teacher can conduct a presentation for countless students simultaneously, whereas capacity is limited in a physical classroom. Also, everything from the furniture to the electricity that runs a dealership showroom comes out of the parent company’s budget. Using VR/AR to build a digital environment allows dealers to create all of these elements virtually – at no additional cost. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-93.jpeg] IMPROVING SERVICE AND SUPPORT The automobile sphere is a dynamic industry that’s always changing the way it designs, produces, and distributes new products. Stiff competition and a driving need for tech innovation places a high level of stress on the creators behind the scenes. Toyota is connecting remote and onsite employees more seamlessly than ever before by using augmented reality and virtual reality to improve collaboration. Building a responsive virtual environment for employees to interact digitally has been proven to: * Reduce wait times between approvals * Speed up the project timeline with faster responses between team members * Improve office morale as more and more teams move offsite * Boost communication efforts between remote and in-house staff On part of the consumer, new owners will be able to use AR-integrated apps to learn more about the vehicle. The app accomplishes this by overlaying digital renders of the car’s physical attributes over a virtual 3D model of the vehicle. Buyers can improve their knowledge of their new purchase, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the functionality of their new hybrid or alternative fuel system. This is a great way to understand which parts of the car’s system are running at different points during the drive. Additionally, drivers can view information about the car’s “hotspots” on demand – or key areas like the motor, battery and fuel tank. Having better access to critical performance information makes it easier for owners to meet scheduled maintenance and repair guidelines. Identifying the car’s real-time functions using AR can also prevent minor problems from progressing by going unnoticed. This integration has also improved support rates and customer satisfaction. Reducing lag time between team members gives each employee the ability to address more client requests. ENGAGING MARKETING AND ONLINE PRESENCE DEVELOPMENT The world is moving online, and the automotive market is not exempt from this major market shift. The majority of the country spends at least a few hours per day on social media, which has created a lucrative mass audience for car companies to direct their advertising efforts. Digital media is exponentially less expensive compared to traditional or print marketing methods. Social media cuts costs even more by giving the audience the power to join the conversation. Users that share or comment on your content are just adding more power and visibility to your posts. Not only have car companies embraced digital marketing in recent years, but brands like Toyota are taking that a step further by integrating AR/VR experiences into their social media feeds and advertisements. Car companies have also incorporated augmented reality and virtual reality tech into their marketing directives. Examples include fully immersive situation-driven simulations and test sessions in the form of interactive games. Using AR/VR tech to build brand awareness combines a multitude of sales tactics into one affordable marketing tool. LASER-FOCUSED CONSUMER TARGETING Pay-per-click advertising saw a significant uptick during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, and marketers continue to use this tool to connect with social media users within their target audience. Virtual reality and augmented reality take that function step further by enhancing the immersive quality of every post and ad. Using vision tracking and face-scanning apps, brands can use interactive elements like filters and on-screen masks to entice consumers. Additionally, consumers get more out of ads that are created with them in mind. Ads that incorporate augmented or virtual reality improve the user experience, and draws in customers with a higher likelihood of spending more than 1.5 seconds on the page. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-94.jpeg] STAYING COMPETITIVE IN A CHANGING INDUSTRY The world of consumer products is shifting everyday, and online retailers are dominating nearly every sector of the commercial market. No matter the audience or target demographic, car brands are facing the same challenges as a variety of other industries – incorporating technology is a necessity if you want to stay competitive. Augmented reality and virtual reality systems have already made a significant impact within the gaming, homebuying, and photography industries. Plus, online shopping gives buyers around the world the ability to purchase products from anywhere and not just their local dealerships. Auto manufacturers, dealers, and sellers have applied this growing trend to have an edge against the dozens of other brands around the world. In fact, using AR/VR as a marketing tool has been proven to increase sales for top brands like BMW and TopShop. This technology is only becoming more present in our daily lives, and more consumers will be seeking this is a media staple in the online shopping experience. Like usual, the automotive industry is paving the way in this growing but influential digital realm. Combining augmented/virtual elements with actual reality is giving consumers a way to immerse themselves into the content they’re consuming about this major, milestone purchase. Cars are synonymous with lifestyle in the current marketplace, and AR/VR tech is giving auto brands an effective tool to convey their message to an engaged target audience.
The Future of Hearable Technology
October 16, 2020
Virtual and augmented reality advancements in our phones, computers, tablets, and even the tech within our vehicles means that our devices are now verbally and visually communicating to us around the clock. The future of hearable technology is as open as the future of technology itself. While many of us view our headphones or earphones as just the little speakers that we can plug into our ears to personalize our auditory experience, these small extensions of our devices have the potential to become…smart. Incredibly smart, actually. New auditory advancements are turning up the volume on what we once considered to be mere accessories to our major devices. Now hearable devices are becoming must-have gadgets independent of phones, tablets or music players. Here are some predictions as to what the future holds for your ears…and even some technology that failed to grab our ear. Listen up! HOW DO YOU USE HEARABLE DEVICES NOW? When we try to comprehend how we will use hearable tomorrow, next year and in the far off future, it’s interesting to look back at how this technology has evolved in our daily lives. Most of us probably conceived of hearable tech as simple headphones or earphones. Maybe a friend or family member utilized hearing aids and that technology became familiar. The evolution of hearable tech has creeped up on us…almost silently, even though we were always listening. Earphones now stream movies. We listen to podcasts. We also use our earphones or headphones to keep teleconferences private. Headsets have integrated microphones that are used for conferencing or even social experiences like gaming. Throughout the decades, sound quality has improved, headphones have become less cumbersome, and technology has advanced. In the ‘80s, we may have listened to our favorite tunes while donning the foam covered earpieces that were ubiquitous to the Walkman. In the new millennium, maybe a new pair of Beats headphones changed the way we heard music. Now, our phones often feature tiny earphones with incredible sound quality. Some of these earpieces are even wireless. But not all hearable tech has revolutionized our lives. Some new discoveries had amazing potential to transform daily life but simply didn’t grab our attention…or our wallets. THE HEARABLE FUTURE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN Back in 2017, Wired reported on Doppler Labs’ eventual demise. Doppler had produced earphones that cancelled out noise, amplified a speaker’s voice and even translated foreign languages for the listener. Its product seemed promising, but it simply didn’t catch on in the way that Apple’s Airpods and other products did with the general public. The features of the earphones, though, showed the potential of this sector of technology. Translating foreign speakers to ease communications may be a solution that many business leaders could demand in future hearable devices. During the worst days of the Covid pandemic, most businesses were working from home. Hearable technology with translations built in could have been a beneficial accessory that reduced the need for translators…or perhaps written on-screen translations. While new tech that features translation capabilities might not be in the very near future, major players in the market are looking to introduce new–and improved–hearable tech. WHAT YOU MIGHT HEAR SOON: HEARABLE TECH OF THE FUTURE The future of hearable tech encompasses the near future…and the far off future, too. While some media can speculate about new products that may hit the market soon, most can only guess as to what the far off future holds for hearable technology. For those looking to upgrade their ears to the latest new headphones or earphones, there are new hearable tech products that will soon be hitting the market. In fact, the anticipation for Apple’s Airpods3 has been bustling on the internet. Unfortunately, no one knows when Apple may release the updated AirPods. And tech experts also can only guess as to what new features they might include. Apple AirPods2 featured wireless charging capabilities and Siri functions, too. A visual concept of the Apple AirPods Studio earphones, however, has apparently leaked, according to techradar. These new headphones will be over-the-ear versus the traditional bud in the ear design. The features have not been disclosed, and details were not provided by Apple but came from a “reputable leaker.” EAR FOR THE FUTURE? A POSSIBLE SMARTPHONE HEARING PIECE This isn’t a hearing aid in an assistive technology definition, but Fast Company reported that major companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are all in the midst of developing their own unique hearing aids that take convenience directly to the ear. However, what these hear pieces will feature is anyone’s best guess. Fast Company posited that they could track oxygen saturation and even count steps—this theory was linked to the fact that all three companies have plans to enter the healthcare sector. Of course, as the article noted, all three of these companies offer ‘virtual assistants’– Google has Google Assistant, Amazon offers Alexa and Apple devices utilize Siri. These virtual assistants have the potential to be intricately intertwined with our daily lives and habits. AMAZON AND ALEXA If Amazon did release some type of hearable technology, the features could be amazing! Imagine if Amazon released a hearable tech that utilizes Alexa. This could mean that the earpiece could pick up commands and the user could interact with Alexa with just a small hearing aid like device. WHAT COULD ALEXA DO WITH A HEARABLE? * Perhaps the user could place orders via Amazon remotely. “Alexa, order my Vitamin C supplement.” * The earpiece could help turn off lights, brew coffee or control anything Alexa-powered. * Alexa, track my order for Dog Food and alert me when it’s on it’s way. APPLE AND SIRI Apple could build smart tech into the airpods so they can connect to Siri and follow through on actions. If Siri is always in your ear, then you can maintain two way communication between your smartphone and Siri. * “Siri, remind me to call my mom,” all of a sudden becomes feasible. * “Siri, create a calendar appointment for my doctor at 3pm tomorrow”. * Maybe the user could surf via Safari and hear the results or use the earpiece to send texts or even teleconference. It’s interesting to think about what these technology giants could introduce into the world…and how new hearing technology could ease our daily interactions. All major tech players–Apple, Amazon, Microsoft (we can’t forget Cortana!) and Google–also could integrate the Internet of Things into earpieces. Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and Alexa could control everything in the house…from the ear! Anything in the home that could connect to these virtual assistants could stream into our ear. Smart appliances utilize these assistants, so imagine sitting in a home office and having Alexa tell you that your oven is preheated. Or that the dishwasher has finished a cycle. No time to take the clothes out of the dryer? Tell the virtual assistant via the earpiece to start the dryer for a fluff cycle. Hearable technology features from tech giants are simply speculative at this point. Until Apple, Amazon or Google make any type of formal announcement, most of us can simply ponder and wonder about what our ears, coupled with voice technology, may control in the future. However, hearable technology developed for individuals with hearing impairments already allows some wearers to control the Internet of Things via the ear! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-89.jpeg] PREDICTING THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST INDIVIDUALS WITH HEARING IMPAIRMENTS Hearables as used as assistive communication devices have their own unique demands for advancement. As technology becomes more intertwined with our daily lives, those who depend on hearing aids to communicate also need to be able to access their phones and devices in the same way as other users. However, putting a phone receiver—even the smartphone—up to the hearing-aided ear can be cumbersome. Phones not only can accommodate hearing aid devices but many also can allow these devices to connect to features to stream music, movies and everything else directly into the hearing aid. Most devices also can connect to hearing aids via Bluetooth. Some hearing aid manufacturers–including Widex and Phonak–even offer apps that allow users to modify their hearing aids via their phone. The user simply logs into the hearing aid app and can change different settings or even review data (depending on the app’s capabilities and functions). There are numerous hearing aid manufacturers and hearing aid models. Some offer advanced capabilities, others aren’t quite as high tech (especially earlier hearing aid models). Some models even allow users to connect into the Internet of Things via an app (and by utilizing the If This, Then That service); this alerts users that someone is at the door or when the wash cycle has completed! Hearing centers that provide diagnostic services for those with hearing loss also have their own predictions on the future may hold for hearable technology. Connect Hearing talked to several of its own hearing specialists about what the future for hearing aids. Over the years, this technology has advanced tremendously. Hearing aids—in very early times—were once large trumpet-like devices that were placed in the ear. Today’s hearing aids, though, can connect wirelessly to Bluetooth devices and can even be used with smartphones. Jody Progue, an audiologist for Connect Hearing in Denton, Texas, told the company that newer hearing aids may become even more convenient for users, allowing easy access to most devices. “I anticipate we’ll also see more universality, such as hearing aids that connect directly to any device via plug-and-play,” said Progue on the Connect Hearing site. “New hearing aids like the Phonak Audéo B Direct, they are truly hands-free. To answer the phone, all a user needs to do is press a button on the hearing aid and say ‘hello’.” When Connect Hearing asked the experts “What will hearing technology look like in five years?,” the hearing specialists had some almost space age predictions! “Artificial intelligence will be integrated into hearing testing and fittings,” John Cummings, a hearing instrument specialist for Connect Hearing in Baltimore, Md., said on the company’s site. “This will improve the overall product offerings and reduce costs as more of the global population accepts and purchases them. Users will also be able to seamlessly connect with the most cutting-edge fitness products.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-90.jpeg] IMAGINE THE SOUNDS IN THE FAR-OFF FUTURE If the near future could bring us hearable devices that might utilize voice assistants like Siri or Alexa, the far-off future could involve virtual or even other types of augmented reality. Perhaps hearing aids allow us to navigate our self driving cars by connecting into the vehicle. Or maybe the ear devices pick up our instructions and graphically display our commands via holograms or augmented scenes. Could Wikipedia evolve from a simple web site to a holographic interactive virtual realm that takes us into history…via our ear devices? Perhaps our hearable devices contain our personal information or even our financial accounts and our hearable technology will be able to transmit this information securely to other devices to make purchases, appointments or perform other services. The size of hearable tech may change, too. We’ve watched as smartphones have become sleeker in design; while phone screens may constantly increase in size, diminutive hearables may be a major demand for those who want to avoid a clumsy and cumbersome earpiece. Earphones may become incredibly tiny and might even become personalized to the wearer. We may, one day, be fitted with our hearable tech. As technology overtakes our physical reality, our imagination can go wild thinking of all the possibilities. The minds of programmers and engineers, however, may discover and create worlds, ideas and software that will jolt us into a new age, an advanced tech renaissance. Twenty years ago, we couldn’t imagine a cell phone that would allow us to access shopping, banking, movies, music and the internet. Now our smartphones manage everything, and, of course, they make basic phone calls, too. Tonight, tomorrow when you plug in your earphones or headphones, imagine all the new features those phones may offer next year. Or five years from now. In the future, there’s no telling what we might hear. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-6.png]
The Definitive Guide for Using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to Elevate Your Business
October 15, 2020
Virtual reality and augmented reality technology has evolved exponentially throughout the years. While once projecting a pixelated and graphically obscure translation of a virtual world, the landscapes and backdrops of VR and the components represented in these scenes now appear so real in their replication that the mind can easily adapt to the new virtual space. The graphic quality of today’s VR has enhanced and transformed the gaming experience, delivering detailed and lifelike worlds and new realms filled with artistic renderings of futuristic—or even prehistoric—structures, creatures, characters and settings. Yet, VR and its offerings extend beyond games and entertainment. Stepping into the virtual world projected in VR also benefits businesses; this technology has the potential to amplify the customer experience, better facilitate employee training and perhaps even boost client satisfaction and retention. How can the use of virtual reality benefit businesses? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-84.jpeg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY & THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Utilizing virtual reality to amplify the customer experience doesn’t involve VR headsets or complicated consoles. VR and its uses are multi-modal, and integration of VR isn’t the same across industries. Augmented reality technology includes virtual assistants (like Alexa), interactive exhibits (like in museums), virtual tours (for real estate or the tourism industry), interactive customer service apps and even virtual reality product showrooms (for cars and fashion!). VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS AND AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented reality is ingrained in daily life. Most smartphones now come equipped with a virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa. These interactive assistants also serve as a prototype for a virtual customer service associate. If your business offers an automated customer service line—with an integrated voice-activated assistant—then welcome to the world of automated reality. While many businesses want to embrace a personalized approach to customer service, and, therefore, still utilize real-life human beings to assist customers with any issues, virtual customer service support does provide accessible and more simplistic assistance for time-harried customers. For simple tasks like paying a bill or checking an account balance, virtual assistants can navigate requests easily and quickly by guiding customers with simple prompts and voice-activated virtual menus. This reduces a customer’s wait time and streamlines simple requests and basic account queries. Virtual customer service assistants also can be utilized online via personalized chats. Customers type their question or concern, and the assistant is programmed with the applicable solutions and guidance. While this type of automated reality doesn’t take place in a separate realm, it is hosted in the virtual sphere, exists separately from a human interaction and incorporates the intelligence and data of the computer. Other businesses and industries, however, facilitate customer service interactions by using VR/AR to identify project issues. Software or apps can now recognize products and identify them for customer service reps. Although this technology isn’t a ‘virtual assistant,’ the technology is an extension of VR/AR. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-85.jpeg] VIRTUAL EXHIBITS & TOURS Virtual reality gives users the opportunity to experience scenes and adventures that may have once been out of reach for them. Museum exhibits can utilize VR by allowing visitors to step into prehistoric worlds or maybe even explore a painting. The tourism industry has taken a financial hit because of Covid, but virtual tours provide a vacation experience that’s safe and relaxing. Now staycations from home can involve virtual excursions to historic sites or even a hike through the canopy of a rainforest. Virtual tours also are utilized in the real estate industry. Potential homebuyers can preview the home of their dreams with online tours and walkthroughs that allow them to see every room and all the home’s amenities and features. THE 360-DEGREE EXPERIENCE OF VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS The Coronavirus pandemic has challenged and changed daily life, and these changes (and challenges) reverberated throughout the retail sector. Visits to stores beyond the necessities were either limited or simply not an option (when restrictions shut-down nonessential businesses). Survival for many stores meant changing how customers shop for clothes, cars and other goods/services. Online shopping became the dominant force, but not all businesses could best display their products in the two-dimensional world of computer imagery. Consumers shopping for a new car need to see details up close, and they also want to view the automobile from multiple vantage points. Standard photos even in high-resolution cannot translate images to 3D. To provide an in-person experience from the comfort of home, some dealerships offered their own virtual showrooms online to display inventory. Others could guide shoppers to the Relay Cars virtual showroom for panoramic views of many different makes and models. Manufacturers or dealers also offered virtual test drives of their automobiles. This virtual test drive model had different functions for dealerships; some scheduled test drives via an app and delivered the car to the consumer for an at-home test drive. Others, though, actually created a virtual test drive that was truly virtual and could be experienced on a phone or computer screen—no keys necessary! The virtual showrooms extended to the fashion world, too. Fashion retailers pre-Covid operated on a dual selling model—customers could order online and they also could view (and try on) items in the store. The retail shutdown meant that those who needed or wanted to preview items in the store didn’t have that option. Like the automotive sector, some boutiques embraced a virtual showroom, allowing consumers to view the entire store in 360 degrees. At some online retailers, customers can view garments from multiple vantage points to assess drape, style and length from different angles. While this isn’t a solution for those who want to try on an item before clicking ‘buy,’ the interactive viewing options may enhance the understanding of a garment’s shape and fit and provide more input for a hesitant buyer. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-86.jpeg] VR AND AR FOR EMPLOYEE TRAINING Across industries, virtual reality and augmented reality also is transforming employee training. This technology is used in flight simulators for pilots, in training simulations for automobile manufacturers, and, per NPR, some simulations teach retail workers how to deal with a robbery. The optimization of this technology depends on the industry and the business’s individual needs. However, the options are seemingly endless. VR TRAINING SESSIONS FOR EMPLOYEES STRIVR is one of the big players in the business of VR training; the company provides training sessions designed for the retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing and technology industries. For the retail sector, these interactive sessions address job roles in multiple areas including customer service, fulfillment, new hire assessment, manager training and culture and values. Employee training sessions can address how to handle customer service issues, help employees learn about new processes in the company, how to most efficiently pack shipments, assess individual skills/weaknesses (e.g. “new hire assessment”), and provide interactive lessons on company culture. Logistics training sessions can include interactive lessons related to onboarding and safety, while lessons/sessions in the financial services sector include fraud protection, sales training, manager training, contact center training and safety training. Walmart and Verizon have used STRIVR for employee training. VR TRAINING SIMULATIONS FOR PILOTS While flight simulators have been around since the early 20th century, virtual reality simulators created a more realistic experience for pilots in training. In 2018, Wired reported that these simulators now provide an integrated sensory experience; the new technology developed by FlyInside provides pilots with the sense of feeling all the switches and dials they would use during a flight. VR FOR TRAINING AND EVALUATION PROTOCOLS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY The automotive sector has utilized virtual reality for safety evaluations and to aid technicians in making repairs. For this industry, VR may be an important tool in detecting design flaws or to simply streamline the visual appeal of the model. Varjo partnered with Volvo for a VR headset—or, rather, a “mixed reality test drive”–that can be used to assess a car model or prototype while driving. The technology allows the driver to test safety technologies and other aspects of the automobile. Porsche’s “Tech Live Look” combines smart glasses with a software platform to help technicians to more easily make repairs. The glasses magnify tiny areas (like screws) and illuminate dark areas for better visibility during repairs. The technology was introduced in 2018. During Covid, Ford utilized virtual reality in its design process. Team directors wore VR headsets to view prototypes in a virtual space, and directors could switch vantage points within the program to view the car from a different angle. Virtual reality ensured that the design process didn’t come to a screeching halt as industries were forced to transition to work-from-home environments. VR AND AR TO BOOST CLIENT SATISFACTION AND RETENTION Success for any business depends on keeping clients and customers happy. Virtual reality and augmented reality also can be used to ensure client satisfaction, which, in turn, leads to retention. Virtual reality experiences can be used to elevate the shopping experience or to simplify the buying process. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-87.jpeg] VR TO VISUALIZE INTERIOR DESIGN Furniture stores sometimes offer interactive experiences for buyers that allow them to photograph a room and upload it to create a virtual simulation of the space. This takes the guesswork out of buying new furnishings, as the simulation may allow buyers to better visualize hues, texture and size/shapes. Macy’s, for example, offers the Virtual Room Designer. After the image of the room is uploaded, buyers can rearrange furniture and add in new pieces to see how they may look at home. This feature allows buyers to know if a nightstand will complement the bed…or look completely out of place. It also ensures that the piece of furniture will fit in the space! Ikea also offers a virtual showroom. Ikea’s Virtual Home Experience, however, is only available in store. The functionalities of the showroom, though, let users delve deep into their creative imagination. Ikea’s website notes that the application lets users swap in furniture, change lighting (to see how the room may look at night or during the day), and opt for different fabrics and hues. Ikea’s VR application is powered by the Oculus Rift. AR TO CHANGE OUR APPEARANCE AR can change the way we look…without changing anything! VR/AR programs allow users to upload photos and make changes to their hair, try makeup hues and, yes, even view plastic surgery results without undergoing the surgery. Wonder how you might look with a smaller nose? There is an AR technology to preview the new virtual you. Sephora and other big beauty names allow users to upload a photo and try on products virtually. On the fence about a lipstick hue? Try it on virtually and see if it’s flattering…or a fail. For Sephora and other companies, this convenient tool may help reduce returns and maybe even lead to more purchases. If more than one eyeshadow looks amazing via the virtual preview, buyers may be more inclined to purchase multiple hues…especially if there is less uncertainty about the purchase. Going for a bold short chic haircut may seem like a big decision. In the past, the potential answer to the burning question of ‘how will it look?’ remained a mystery until the style was completed. However, with AR apps like The Hair Styler, users can try on different styles and colors. Cosmetologists may see a benefit from these apps, as now their clients can show them specifically what they want and how they want it to look. Since the new style will be displayed on the client’s own photo, the style request can be visualized a bit more accurately. In the past few years, cosmetic surgeons have seen an uptick in younger clientele. Today, it isn’t unusual for someone in their 20s to request fillers or perhaps even Botox. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner, who has openly admitted to having lip fillers, also have made these minor cosmetic procedures much more acceptable. However, more invasive procedures like rhinoplasty or face lifts may cause a bit of trepidation for those who are unsure what to expect from the augmentation. Face Touch Up helps take some of the guesswork out of these procedures; surgeons can use this app to show patients the final look after surgery. While the photos might not be an exact recreation, it can help patients visualize the results post-surgery. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-88.jpeg] AR FOR A VIRTUAL FITTING ROOM Retail fashion stores shut down during Covid didn’t have the means to let customers try on clothes. Even now, those fitting rooms may be locked for sanitation reasons to help stop the spread of the virus. FXMirror may transform the way consumers shop for clothes in the store, as the technology eliminates the need for the store to have a fitting room. FXMirror includes a processor, Kinect camera, a wifi router, a virtual fitting application and a Cloth Authoring Tool (aka CAT). The technology works by taking a snapshot of the individual in 3D; measurements are captured that allow for a personalized avatar (choose your own image or a generated avatar). According to the website, users can change hairstyles, skin complexion, and rotate the image for a rear view of an outfit. FXMirror also allows users to change their facial expression. FXMirror can access the full inventory of the boutique or store. While many fitting rooms are shut during the pandemic, these closed spaces also may present a risk for shoplifting. FXMirror and technology like it may help stores decrease the risk of theft while still providing a convenient virtual space for trying on clothing. Virtual reality and augmented reality offer many benefits to businesses. This technology can help facilitate more seamless customer service interactions—especially for simple requests—and it also can improve employee training programs and give a boost to customer satisfaction/retention. Virtual customer service assistants are a primary example of how many companies already utilize this technology. In addition, companies that offer VR training for employees may be the wave of the future, as more industries look for ways to better prepare employees for different scenarios they may face in their new job. VR/AR used as a way to provide insight about purchases can amplify a company’s customer satisfaction and retention rates; virtual reality showrooms, AR programs that provide previews of beauty products and even a VR virtual fitting room all provide customers with the means to see a product before they make their purchase. VR may be a solution to ensure that the customer is always right, while simultaneously minimizing the risk of returns or losing customers because an employee wasn’t right for the role.
Virtual Reality – Changing How Cars Are Made
October 14, 2020
The automotive industry has been adopting new ways to work for a while now, since virtual reality and augmented reality started to expand how real-world businesses could function. There has been a strong adoption of these technologies in many other sectors. In the automotive industry, virtualized realities are becoming key functions in work processes, from mapping out car ideas to the production of finished vehicles. Showrooms have adopted virtual reality as a sales tool which allows salespeople to show off any car of the brand, without needing to have them in stock at the time. What’s more, virtual reality can also demonstrate the different trim levels and upgrades available across the brand, which is of great assistance to upselling. Virtual reality and augmented reality are being looked at and developed for use inside vehicles, and this is expected to expand as 5G makes truly autonomous vehicles possible. From heads-up displays for the driver, night vision, or virtual reality activities for passengers, the uses being discovered are expanding. It is expected that in the future, many will be able to enjoy virtual environments and games as they travel, or even work on virtualized devices. These uses of virtual reality are promoted quite heavily, but one area often overlooked is the research and development stage. Products have been modeled and designed in applications for a long time now, normally presenting 3D models on 2D screens. Now, however, virtual reality is adding a new dynamic to the development process and also opening up the possibility of totally new design concepts for car interiors. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-80.jpeg] HOW CAN VIRTUAL REALITY ASSIST DESIGN? Research and design are complicated and expensive processes, especially where cars are concerned. Manufacturers often spend years refining a single-vehicle. CAD has been a major player in the industry for a long time but is now transitioning towards integrated virtual reality CAD designs. The benefit of virtual reality is that it can provide lifelike, lifesize, and interactive designs. While modeling on a computer screen is quite effective, being able to see designs to scale, use x-ray vision, and even test them against realistic real-world simulations adds new dynamics to the design process. The fact that the environment is virtual also helps to increase design collaboration. It doesn’t matter where experts or investors are located, they can join a virtual room to view and collaborate on designs. With all of the company’s experts and invested parties able to easily be a part of the ongoing development of a design, it allows for continuous progressive development and feedback. This is more favorable to creating “complete” designs and then presenting them only to find that major adjustments are needed. Instead, any element of the vehicle can easily be viewed and reviewed remotely at any stage. With a virtual model, there is also a more complete feel to the design. Being able to see it to size, move around it, interact with elements and more can help to check the design and functionality better. This can help with everything from aesthetics to finding issues and faults. The virtual reality environment allows not only for design but also for interactive testing of the designs, allowing designers to see if the things work and if they could be viable. According to seat-mediacenter.com: “This technology succeeds in reducing production time of the prototypes by 30%”. Virtual reality has reached the point where a virtual vehicle could be test driven in a virtual world and how it would respond is almost exactly how it would respond when driven in the real world. This effective reviewing of designs helps to speed up every step, from design through to production, and later virtual reality even helps with online and real-world sales. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-81.jpeg] HOW THE USE OF VIRTUAL REALITY COULD AFFECT DESIGN FEATURES We mentioned earlier that virtual reality and augmented or mixed reality could become a big feature of the automobile traveling experience in the future. This, in itself, is likely to affect how cars are designed. While automation is surely going to change the operation and layout of vehicles, virtual elements could also, in theory, replace current real-world objects. This could, to some degree, even work with manually operated vehicles or remote drivers, allowing for virtual elements to control aspects of the vehicle. In this sense, we are talking about the possibility of removing a lot of the real-world “interactive parts” from cars, and instead, replacing them with virtual objects. This could either greatly simplify interior designs, swaying more towards space and comfort, or allow for totally different approaches to interior vehicle design. Elements in the car could also be hidden or interactive by using touch, light, or motion sensors and information systems within the vehicle that interlink with the virtual reality concepts. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-82.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY COULD CHANGE PROTOTYPES Coming up with nice and intuitive designs is one thing, but developing a working prototype is a whole different level. Each development will go through numerous levels of design, discussion, fixes, redesigning, and testing. If any mistakes are made during this process, the costs can be extremely high. The smallest design fault can lead to halted production or even a total recall of all vehicles sold. This kind of error has further-reaching costs as well, as a brand’s image and consumer trust can be negatively impacted. Even detecting issues early in the process can cause considerable expense and delays, especially where key components are concerned or being produced for a real-world prototype. This is why it is so important that designers can both effectively design but also collaborate with experts and test design ideas at each step. Virtual reality is a major asset in every part of this process. It allows developers to visualize the vehicle in a life-sized and interactive environment. Seeing designs at scale can greatly help with detecting issues or flaws that could impact usability, function, or development. Being able to operate or use the designs as they are intended for the real-world only adds more insight to this testing phase. It also allows experts from any area of the company, or even remote consultants, to collaborate on any part of the design or even the final concept. How parts function or even how an entire engine should perform can be tested. What’s more, numerous situations such as weather, sea level, different surfaces, and more can be simulated to see how things work. The simplest of mechanisms can be tested, observed, and refined. As the vehicle can be actively interacted with, layout and accessibility issues also become clearer when observed on a functional lifesize model. If issues are found, depending on the advancement of the virtual reality system, it could even be possible to make real-time corrections or switch in already existing alternative designs. TESTING AND DRIVING THE FINAL VERSION Whereas before virtual reality any level of real testing required a prototype to be constructed and thoroughly tested, with virtual reality the testing phase can begin before any real-world construction. Virtual prototyping is now a reality, using a combination of interactive virtual reality and powerful computing to generate realistic and detailed prototypes, as well as ‘real world’ scenarios to place them in. The days of needing numerous clay models and prototypes are mostly gone. While they may still have some uses, the new virtual models use ‘materials’ that have all the properties of their real-world counterparts. Designers and engineers can check everything from styling to aerodynamics. Automotive manufactures are already using virtual reality design, as well as using it in other parts of the production process. As stated by thedrive.com “It would no longer be necessary to produce multiple physical models of various items to piece together and potentially reject due to fitment or design conflicts.” This is a huge step, as the research and design stages are both reduced and become more streamlined with the introduction of virtual design and testing. It also isn’t only the outside or mechanics of the car that can be tested in a virtual space. With advanced virtual environments, it is possible to test what it is like to be in the car and traveling on a journey. This can also be linked to ‘real-world’ effects, such as a mockup of the driver’s area, wind, engine vibrations, etc. Some of these systems allow for live adjustments so that designers can test different styles of items, or even quickly sketch out a new idea from within the simulation. Many showrooms today are already providing customers with virtual tours of cars, including virtual test drives. While this technology has been around for a while now, new business uses and improvements are constantly being conceived and implemented. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-83.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS IMPROVING THE PRODUCTION STAGE Staff can now be trained in virtual environments before being set to work in the real world. This allows them to learn, practice, fail, and practice some more in a virtual and safe environment. The training can be created by the design staff and engineers that are specialists in prototype design. Each aspect can also later be adjusted, should any further errors occur. By allowing training from the experts on a particular vehicle design to be used to educate production staff in any area of the company, issues are often avoided. As an added benefit, the virtual environment doesn’t require resources or machinery, which reduces costs and allows the production line to continue functioning at full speed during training. Experienced staff members are also not required to undertake training or to take time out to monitor new trainees, helping to increase productivity overall. When the trainee is eventually ready to start work on the real-world production process, they can still be guided by augmented reality or mixed reality as they work. These headsets can overlay information on the real world, highlight issues, catch malformations, and much more. Even notifications and warnings can be sent remotely to these virtual devices. TO SUM UP The automotive sector has been quick to adopt virtual technologies. They have been using them for years, and have found intuitive and inventive ways of incorporating virtual worlds into real workflows. When it comes to prototyping, there are significant advantages to this technology. However, virtual reality has impacted many aspects of automotive production and will likely continue to be adopted further. To date, some of the impacts of using virtual reality and mixed reality in the automotive industry include: * Increased safety for trainees and employees * Increased productivity * Less downtime * Reduced costs across various areas * Improved collaboration without travel * Faster and more cost-effective prototypes * Consumer engagement There are likely many other benefits, but it isn’t hard to see why more and more businesses, particularly in industry, are adopting these virtual approaches to design, testing, training, working, and much more.
Trends to Watch in Augmented and Virtual Reality
October 12, 2020
Last year saw considerable growth in the virtual reality and augmented reality sectors. This, however, was before COVID-19 swept the world. With many stuck at home, attention has increasingly turned towards home entertainment and remote working approaches. In 2020, Apple has also shown more development interests, recently purchasing NextVR as well as registering numerous patents for VR and AR focused technology. While entertainment is a strong focus, VR and AR are also expanding into numerous other sectors. Some interesting trends include sectors such as the marketing, education, consulting, and medical sectors. Here we look at some of the most interesting and potentially life-changing trends of VR and AR, including where things are likely to head next. TOP VR TRENDS OF 2020 VR has been around the longest of these two sectors and has already proved quite popular with the gaming sector. However, the use of VR has expanded far beyond simply being an entertainment technology. EDUCATION VR is almost a perfect for offering education, especially for places or systems where access is not easy or not possible. In this sense, enhancing education with VR technology can help students to gain a deeper understanding of the way things work. This can be anything from the internal workings of the human body, to what makes up a star. With VR, the student can see live representations, see multiple layers, and interact with the environment. In Myanmar, UNESCO reported, “more than 5,000 of the country’s 500,000 teachers have had a chance to become acquainted with the technology”. In this case, VR is being used in normal classroom scenarios in an affordable way that brings the subject to life. THEAPPSOLUTIONS also predicts that “Education is expected to be the 4th biggest sector for VR investments”. It is also perfect for training staff, particularly when dealing with potentially hazardous or dangerous situations. The need for learning the ‘theory’ and then applying it in a real-world situation is removed. Instead, students can learn the theory and then practice in a VR world. Whether a soldier or a chemical waste disposal expert, being able to practice in a VR situation is a great opportunity for ‘almost’ real experience. COVID-19 has added extra fire to the idea of distance learning, new and intuitive approaches to VR learning are coming out for ‘normal’ education. This can allow students to study partly or fully from home, but also gain socialization and even experience group learning in VR environments via educational platforms. WEIGHT AND FREEDOM When it comes to headsets, size and weight make a big difference to the experience. Devices need to include the technology to provide a ‘realistic’ and believable experience. However, they also need to be wearable for considerable periods and comfortable. The weight of devices has decreased, while also allowing for more power and other included technology such as stereo sound. The increased ‘onboard’ power has allowed for devices such as Facebook’s Oculus Quest to be self-contained. As tech progresses, the need to be connected to processing devices may reduce or even vanish. MERGING TECH As things progress, VR devices are also gaining some AR characteristics. This is achieved via video passthrough. The device can display both what is being ‘seen’ by its cameras, as well as what is created by the software. To make this possible, there have been significant advances with devices and the incorporation of a high-res display, motion tracking sensors, high-end cameras, and more. The result is a visual environment that includes the ‘real world’ view while being able to alter it in any way programmed. It gives a highly realistic and immersive experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-76.jpeg] ECOMMERCE How we shop, or more importantly where we shop is going to change. For many, shopping from home is not a new idea and so the idea of virtual shopping isn’t that much of a stretch. However, with VR and AR, that shopping experience can be taken to an experience and interactivity level not previously possible. Shopping experiences will change, such as car sales potentially being almost entirely online. Shoppers could potentially experience a vehicle in full 360-degree views, get the specs, and interact with aspects of the car. It might even be possible in the future to remotely test drive a car. AR is already allowing you to ‘see’ the car in your actual environment. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-77.jpeg] TOP AR TRENDS OF 2020 As a slightly newer technology, augmented reality is gaining momentum. It is predicted to dramatically exceed the market sector of virtual reality by 2025. AR is getting some interesting uses, both in the gaming world and the business sector. For many, Pokemon Go was one of the first experiences of AR. This technology merges and alters the real world view. This combination of the real world with augmented objects is what makes it so versatile. One of the useful features of AR is that it doesn’t necessarily need special hardware to use it. A mobile phone or tablet can be used to display the visual and audio aspects of AR. However, for a more subversive experience, specialist headsets can also be used. AI IS CHANGING THE WORLD AI has changed many aspects of our daily lives, almost without us noticing it. From phones that adapt to user preferences, to fully-featured personal assistants, AI is changing how we interact with the web and how we run our lives. In regards to VR and AR, AI is providing a level of interconnection and ‘understanding’ that previously wasn’t possible or wasn’t easy to achieve. An example of this is how AI apps can understand what they are seeing. This results in more accurate augmented experiences, such as that with camera filters and animations that perfectly apply to what is seen by the camera. Instagram and other fun camera apps are good examples of this technological merger. AI is not only applied to fun apps and games. AI is already changing how we travel in some areas, such as in airports that provide apps that integrate with numerous ‘data providers’ of the airport to provide everything from augmented navigation to the latest customer updates. A major example of this use is seen in Gatwick Airport, although over the next year it is expected that there will be more airports adopting similarly modern approaches. AI can help with navigation, flight information, contacting customers or staff, and even helps with immigration control, such as with facial recognition technology. AI and AR have the potential to change how businesses and customers interact, providing each with a customized experience, and smoothing the processes for all. As AI capabilities expand further, it is likely that what is possible to achieve with AR will also grow. HEALTHCARE, COMMERCE, AND INDUSTRY AND MORE These developing technologies are providing interesting solutions to healthcare and other industries. AR, for example, could help to guide and support doctors by overlaying information or even showing inside a patient. With remote technologies and data rates improving, remote consultations are possible. There are already designs and prototypes of healthcare pods, where the patient can get basic scans, tests, and even consult with a doctor from wherever the pod is deployed. However, the uses of VR and AR go far beyond consultations. Treatment of phobias can be performed in safe virtual environments, AI could combine with AR to assist with surgeries, and with the assistant of machines, it is expected that in a future that surgeries could even be performed entirely remotely. Who knows, maybe the surgeon could even be an AI. In regards to industry usage, similar applications are limitless. From remote controlling devices or robots to simulating dangerous environments for practice and training, how we do business is sure to evolve with these technologies. AR is also helping people to shop and enjoy the experience. Interactive AR features provide a ‘fun’ novelty to a normal shopping experience. A recent report showed that “Nearly 61% of customers chose shops that offer AR technology over normal shops”. MOBILE POWER One aspect that is increasing the use of AR apps and games is easier access to powerful mobile devices. Devices have become both more powerful and more affordable. While the top brands may ask around $1000 for their latest flagship model, there are lesser-known brands producing high-spec phones for a fraction of the price. This increased availability means that income isn’t so much of a divide and that most areas of the world are connected with mobile technology and web access. Increased specs also result in more enjoyable user experiences and allow for more sensors, camera lenses, graphic processing, and memory for AR apps and games. As mobile technology continues to develop, what is possible as far as VR and AR are likely to grow accordingly. BROWSER POWERED AR & VR EXPERIENCES While this has been around for a while, developments in supporting technologies are expanding what is possible with the ‘immersive web’. With this technology, there is no need for people to download specific experiences but instead can experience them almost live via supporting browsers and mobile devices. The type of experience can range dramatically, from full 360-degree videos to visualizations and graphics augmentations of the real world. It is everything from the real world recordings to a fully virtualized experience. AR development platforms are also helping to expand things further, providing developers with the tools that they need to create amazing content. Even Apple recently released access to their tool called ARKit, hinting at more to be coming from them soon. The benefit of entirely online web experiences is convenience and expanded audience. This is, even more, the case as compatible technology becomes more affordable and more powerful. As 5G enters the scene, what is capable via the internet is expected to expand considerably. THE POSSIBILITIES OF 5G 5G will allow faster and larger data transfer rates than were previously possible. This means more can be ‘instantly’ accessed from the cloud, as well as the possibility for almost instantaneous communication from anywhere connected. This connectivity changes how we can access data and what is achievable within the restraints of bandwidth. With rates as those announced by Telekom.com “A speed of three gigabits per second was measured. Under ideal conditions, the 5G speed should in future reach up to 10 Gbit/s, the equivalent of a 20-fold increase”, what we can do in the cloud is going to evolve significantly. For example, processing power could potentially be moved to large cloud-based centers, VR or AR content could be cloud-based without lags, and international connectivity could allow for self-driven autonomous vehicles or even remotely driven vehicles to become a reality. All of this could lead to the centralization of the processing aspects, significantly reducing the hardware requirements of devices (and therefore, their related costs should also reduce). [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-78.jpeg] THE FUTURE OF AR AND VR We expect this technology to continue growing. It could end up with devices supporting both technologies in some cases. AR is likely to expand beyond VR, as it has many more possible ‘real world’ applications, especially where the business uses and commerce are concerned. AR offers an enhanced experience of the real world we live in. As AI and IoT develop and merge with this technology, possibilities expand. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-79.jpeg] Education and training are also likely to adopt using VR/AR in many areas, from training military personnel, to homeschooling or bringing history to life. There is a potential for how we communicate and socialize evolve, as we have seen from mobile phone usages and expansion. As this technology shrinks and processing moves to the cloud, it is even feasible that AR and AI could be delivered through contact lenses or other compact devices.