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How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision

How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision

June 18, 2021

Augmented reality (otherwise known simply as AR) has to do with the art of superimposing computer-generated content over what we see in the real world. AR is possible through integrating digital information with our own real world environment occurring in real time. A majority of AR content can be viewed through the average smartphone. VR is becoming more and more accessible (not to mention affordable) for new industries to adopt it. VR can be applied beyond the video game and virtual realm, branching off into industries to create a more educational and engaging experience in areas like self-help, marketing, medicine, dentistry, as well as nurse training.   Augmented reality is proving to be particularly useful in medical education and imaging. Popular AR solutions that are already available include AccuVein, ARnatomy, VA-ST, and VIPAR. WHERE DID AUGMENTED REALITY COME FROM? AR was first developed, to a certain extent, by someone in the film industry — a cinematographer named Morton Heilig… in 1957. Heilig invented a contraption called the Sensorama, a device that delivered visuals, sounds, vibrations, and, yes, even smells to the user.  This first iteration of AR was not computer controlled, however the Sensorama remains the first example of an individual making an attempt to add sensory data to a virtual experience. In 1968, a man named Ivan Sutherland (an American computer scientist) invented a head-mounted display that could be used as a sort of window into a virtual world. However, this invention stumbled upon a primary problem in antiquated versions of VR and AR technology: these inventions were impractical for popular and wide use. Then, in 1975 Myron Krueger (a computer artist) developed the very first virtual reality interface, an invention called Videoplace. Videoplace gave its users the ability to manipulate (and even interact with) virtual objects in real-time. The very first properly functioning AR system is believed to be developed in 1992 at USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab — by Louis Rosenberg. Virtual Fixtures was a complex robotic system that Rosenberg designed in order to make up for lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power that was available back in those times. Virtual Fixtures enabled the overlay of sensory information onto a common workspace, which was done in order to boost productivity. Of course, more recently, advancements like ARToolkit (an Adobe Flash design tool), Google Glass, and Mocrosoft HoloLens have helped make augmented reality a household name… and this technology is finally ready to reach the masses! How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AR-and-the-Medical-Industry.jpg] AR AND THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY As far as the medical industry goes, AR is being used in conjunction with smart glasses that can superimpose real-time data sent from a dental scanner, which gives dental practitioners the ability to build more precise crowns and caps. Nurses are now utilizing AR-enabled, tablet-based simulations that expose trainees to a variety of different patient scenarios. As a result, nurses are better able to connect with patients and are better prepared to handle daily work situations. AR can also help enhance CT and MRI visualization by superimposing stereoscopic projections, which can be used over the course of an actual surgical procedure. This information helps medical professionals better perform surgeries that require extremely precise navigation, especially when it comes to a very particular organ.  AR can also be used during pre-operative planning, enhancing accuracy when it comes to locating tumors and surrounding structures, especially in instances where the anatomy of the vascular or nervous system ends up complicating a tumor removal procedure. AR AND THE VHA The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has partnered with Verizon, Medivis, and Microsoft in order to develop Project Convergence, which is an initiative to provide veterans with 5G medical campuses in the United States as well as sophisticated surgical visualization tools — campuses which will be the first of their kind. The initiative itself is led by the VA’s National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation. The way it works is by fusing together the following: * Verizon’s 5G technology * An FDA-approved use case in Medivis’ surgical augmented reality clinical visualization software (SurgicalAR) * Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset with Azure cloud service So what do all these awesome ingredients add up to? This initiative aims to improve healthcare delivery at VA facilities, and, ultimately, in the broader healthcare community at large. How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/More-on-Medivis.jpg] MORE ON MEDIVIS Medivis has developed a SurgicalAR platform that is truly groundbreaking, integrating augmented reality, artificial intelligence, as well as computer vision in order to help advance medical procedures like surgical planning. SurgicalAR leverages the Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR headset, which provides a holographic visualization for physicians, allowing for far better precision, helping drive effective real-time decision making. SurgicalAR is being used both in and out of the operating room as we speak. Neurosurgeon Osamah Choudhry and radiologist Christopher Morley are the pioneering physicians behind Medivis and SurgicalAR. The pair began laying their groundwork for SurgicalAR when they were still senior residents at NYU Medical Center.  From the very beginning, these two doctors recognized the essential need for 3D technology and that this sort of technology could vastly improve surgical precision by providing surgeons with more comprehensive and immersive views of imaging. Today’s most commonly used imaging tools happen to be 2D currently. Surgical teams have struggled in the past to understand critical 3D anatomy while scrolling through 2D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) slices. Not only that, they’ve also struggled to mentally re-create what they’ve been able to see through a microscope. The obvious question for Dr. Choudhry and his colleagues was: Why use 2D imaging when solving a 3D problem?  This problem put Dr. Choudhry and Dr. Morley on the correct path that led to the development of SurgicalAR, not to mention the use of AR (as well as AI) to create extremely exact 3D holographic images, images that are much more helpful for surgeons who need to perform their jobs and procedures with the utmost precision. Medivis has undergone a meteoric rise to prominence when it comes to the world of surgical visualization and that rise has partly been fueled by amazing partnerships with world-class technology companies — which includes Dell Technologies, NVIDIA, and other notable names. “The way we work is that we take our imaging and we reconstruct it using our software technology,” Dr. Choudhry explained in a recent case study by Dell Technologies. “And because the reconstruction is very compute-intensive, we do it using a Dell Precision 7750 workstation with an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU. That system uses parallel processing capabilities that allow the holographic rendering to be created in real time.” How Augmented Reality is Helping with Surgical Precision [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Gotta-Be-the-Glasses.jpg] IT’S GOTTA BE THE GLASSES Wait, we feel like we’re missing one important part of the SurgicalAR solution. Oh yeah, the Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR headset. Dell Precision workstation sends the data to the HoloLens, which helps the user visualize content in immersive 3D powered by the Verizon 5G network.  But can AR be used beyond the operating room? With this new SurgicalAR solution, doctors will be better able to plan and prepare for surgeries of various types and complexities, not to mention view and orient themselves to the patient’s internal anatomy virtually. AR will only help the medical field create a more and more immersive learning environment for existing and training doctors, not to mention nurses and other professional clinicians. AR is proving to be especially beneficial and important for VA hospitals, which provide a training ground for over 70% of doctors in the United States. The SurgicalAR solution is scheduled to be deployed at VA sites in:  * Palo Alto * Portland * Puget Sound * Philadelphia * Orlando However, the larger vision of this incentive is to bring these sorts of surgical precision improvements powered by AR to VA facilities and other healthcare service providers across the country and ultimately the globe. So, it’s clear that AR and VR are being used for far more purposes than simply creating an awesome video game or a convincing online/virtual experience. AR and VR have the capacity to touch and change a variety of industries and their applications are becoming more and more practical. Soon, even children will be able to use AR and VR technology with ease just as they do a smartphone. The medical industry itself is fertile ground for exploring the true uses and benefits that humankind stands to gain from augmented reality technology, especially when it comes to complicated operations and procedures like surgeries. Now that AR is being applied by the masses, it will continue to change the way we interact with our world and each other.

Categories: Augmented Reality
The Army’s Augmented Reality

The Army’s Augmented Reality

June 15, 2021

Augmented and virtual reality platforms are often used to simulate real life experiences for training employees. Virtual reality platforms are also used in the medical field to help doctors safely expose patients suffering from anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder to experiences that make them anxious (this is called exposure therapy). Now the military is about to use extended reality to provide data and visual enhancements to troops. The Army’s augmented reality may be the future of military tech. In March, the Army announced a more than $20 billion augmented reality (known as “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” or IVAS) deal with Microsoft for augmented reality headsets that would include night vision and cameras among other features. CNBC reported that the new headset is similar to Hololens in that it overlays data on top of the actual environment; however, the IVAS also included (per a CNBC reporter’s demo in 2019) a compass, map, night imaging and could even include weapon data (e.g. aiming). The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/The-Armys-Announcement.jpg] THE ARMY’S ANNOUNCEMENT Media reported that the Army made its official announcement on March 31, and a press release from the Army announcing the contract was posted to the site. According to the press release, the contract had been officially awarded to Microsoft on March 26, 2021. The press release also detailed capabilities of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System: “The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an architecture that allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse, and Train using a single platform. The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and Soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries,” the Army stated in the press release. “The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.” WHAT ABOUT OTHER MILITARY BRANCHES? Will the Marines, Navy, Army Reserves or other branches of the military also utilize augmented reality? Currently, only the Army has announced plans for augmented reality. However, according to The Drive: “The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. special operations forces might also piggyback onto those orders in the future.” THE HISTORY OF IVAS Back in 2019, ArmyTimes reported on the Army’s and Marine’s exploration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS); The Times actually was able to use some of the devices. The details on the technology’s capabilities—even two years prior to the Microsoft announcement—could showcase the future of military technology. According to ArmyTimes, IVAS could show the location of teammates or squads (this is in real-time) and users could also mark enemy sites and other information using symbols.  Essentially, the maps could include data that could alert squads and aid them. ArmyTimes explained that these symbols or marks even show up on the real environment (without the map). So data doesn’t just disappear. As the story was reported back in 2019, technology has likely changed…and the new headsets could be even savvier. What the final product looks like might only be known to the military, however. The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/A-Look-at-Augmented-Reality-and-Training.jpg] A LOOK AT AUGMENTED REALITY AND TRAINING The development of IVAS for the Army could provide yet another tool for training, which could help soldiers better prepare for future scenarios. With augmented reality and virtual reality, training platforms are simulated to allow users to learn how to react and prepare…without, of course, putting anyone in danger. While the headsets for the Army could be used in different ways, augmented and virtual reality is often integrated by businesses as part of training platforms and perhaps even new employee onboarding. Virtual reality allows employees to enter a simulated environment with the aid of a headset that allows the employee or interviewee to experience aspects of the job or face tough situations…without the actual real-life stress of that situation. With virtual simulations, employees can learn how to handle a robbery or maybe just a tough customer. While a face-to-face real experience could leave an employee tongue-tied or maybe even flustered, virtual reality allows them to face these same issues in a safe environment. Screw-ups can mean that maybe the employee needs to rehearse and go over the situation again. For employers, these simulations could mean the difference between a really frustrated customer and a tense situation to a more relaxed interaction and a happy customer. A mistake in virtual reality isn’t the end of the world…or the end of the job. It could simply mean the employee needs more training or more practice. Augmented reality also has aided businesses during mechanical training. For example, augmented reality platforms can allow instructions to appear on top of machines or other equipment to help techs or others on the job. These tech platforms also could help reduce downtime. If a new employee has to learn how to fix new equipment, having the instructions via augmented reality means that they don’t have to hunt down a manual. They can simply do the job. Even automotive mechanics are using augmented reality glasses! Mercedes-Benz technicians are assisted with augmented reality glasses that can connect with a support team. The glasses can show the remote team what the tech sees to provide help to the tech during repairs. Once again, this saves the tech time flipping through a manual or halting repairs to call remote experts. The glasses seamlessly connect the service tech and the remote experts. The Army’s Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmented-Reality-for-Everyday.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY FOR EVERYDAY While the military and businesses embrace augmented reality, this technology is used by individuals every day. Whether they know it or not. Augmented reality can help keep drivers from backing into an obstacle and it may help navigation, too. Backup cameras don’t just show what’s behind the car, but they also show how that car will turn. Grid lines show the turning radius, and this can help a driver eyeball the best angle for backing out of a tight spot. Front cameras offer the same capabilities. Those small cameras could help drivers from nicking their bumpers or scratching another car while navigating tight parking lots. Some vehicles also include smart rearview mirrors that aid visual acuity at night. Instead of seeing the reflection in the mirror, smart rear view mirrors access the rear camera to show a well lit and clear image of the back of the vehicle. Even GPS systems could infuse augmented reality. Some systems include graphic overlays on top of the image of the real road or street view. Some may include arrows to indicate when to turn. In addition, some newer vehicles also could include navigation data that also shows augmented reality data that highlights bikers, speed and other information to help keep drivers safer on the road. AN AUGMENTED FUTURE REALITY Virtual and augmented reality may be upgrading jobs, training and even everyday activities like driving. As this technology is adopted by more industries, it may become an accepted norm. Not only will individuals find this technology as part of job training in some industries, but it also follows drivers on the road in many vehicles. Even online shopping experiences are upgraded with augmented (or virtual) reality features. Augmented reality can let consumers preview different products –including paint colors on their walls. Augmented reality, though, also can help individuals get fit. Apps like Zombies, Run! lets users run away from augmented zombies. Yes, the zombies appear in the environment…and this may help challenge runners or even fast walkers to pick up that pace. Ghost Pacer also can help runners beat their time and challenge their limits with augmented reality competitors. Augmented reality also can help individuals find out data about the world. Use apps to better understand the stars in the sky. Or even peek through the other side of the Earth and find more about what exists on the other side. In the future, augmented and virtual reality could be a part of the job interview process. Or maybe telehealth. Could doctors see patients virtually…in virtual reality? Maybe virtual conferences are held in virtual reality, too. Forget online conference platforms! Maybe, in the future, meetings will be held in virtual boardrooms with every employee appearing as their own personal avatar. Education could get augmented or go completely virtual, too. As Covid forced many schools to hold classes virtual, the idea of learning from home isn’t so foreign to many families any longer. Perhaps the future includes real virtual learning environments. Students don a headset and sit in a virtual classroom. Or maybe the teacher is augmented into the student’s environment. Even drives could be augmented to include friends and family, as avatars of companions may appear in the passenger seat during a long journey to keep the driver company (Nissan’s Invisible to Visible is working on this!). Augmented reality and virtual reality also could augment the world in ways we could only dream…because who knows what the future holds.

Categories: Augmented Reality
Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects

Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects

June 14, 2021

When it comes to design and decor, lighting is often a crucial yet overlooked element. Lighting a room or a display properly is crucial to successful presentation.  Disney is one company that recognizes the importance of lighting, and they’ve been in the process of developing augmented reality technology that allows users to add virtual illumination to real life objects when viewed through an AR display. Being recognized as one of the biggest brands and organizations in the world, Disney has always had a sense of cinema, incorporating this into each and every one of their theme parks. Go on any ride and pay attention to how they use lighting to accentuate a certain prop or certain part of the ride in order to achieve a certain effect for those who experience the attraction. Epcot, a theme park at Walt Disney World Resort that features a number of exciting attractions, international pavilions, award-winning fireworks, as well as an extensive list of seasonal special events, recently unveiled new night time lighting for attendees to enjoy. This is actually a useful example of effective light design. Lighting in the fountains of Epcot as well as the three new pylons ends up changing and shifting subtly throughout the night, creating an amazing ambiance that you really have to see to believe. If you sit and watch the full cycle of lights you’ll notice that the light is different at the edges of the fountain when compared to the middle. These lights turn to different colors that can be viewed from a number of angles. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Shed-Some-Light-on-the-Subject.jpg] SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE SUBJECT Examples of successful lighting when it comes to design and decor includes Spaceship Earth, where participants gaze upon a variety of theater-style lighting fixtures. The Sistine Chapel also uses effective scene lighting that is going to be markedly different from the lighting provided in, say, a computer lab. Different types of lighting can even affect the mood of a space or room. Conversely, proper lighting will absolutely transform a room in its shape, size, and energy. For instance, if you have a den that is small in size, you might end up painting the walls some sort of light color, then making sure to provide extra lighting, which will end up making the room appear larger than it really is. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Whats-the-Big-Deal-About-Lighting.jpg] WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT LIGHTING? There is even a job called “Lighting Designer” where a person is tasked with illuminating a room or a scene — in sort of the same way that television productions or stage shows utilize effective lighting.  Lighting designers carry the responsibility for design, installation, as well as operation of lighting and additional special electrical effects that end up being used in an exhibit or a production of any sort. Lighting designers will often use some sort of light plot which specifies light placement and configuration. A light plot is used when it comes to all instruments incorporated in the project in question. Lighting designers also end up having to furnish all required and associated paperwork, which includes:  * Hook-ups * Schedules * Cut lists * Cue synopsis * And more! This means that a lighting designer has a ton of responsibilities and there are many moving parts to the job. Augmented reality actually stands to assist lighting designers and production coordinators in successfully lighting a production without the normal amount of equipment and ingenuity that the job would normally entail. HOW DOES AUGMENTED REALITY PLAY INTO LIGHTING? Augmented reality is a newer thing that we’re just now beginning to realize has some serious implications when it comes to enhancing everyday life. Augmented reality and virtual reality have played a huge hand in helping video games get more expansive and immersive, of course, but AR and VR has actually helped a number of other industries and companies in a variety of ways. The medical industry now uses AR and VR technology for research purposes as well as in surgical procedures and training modules, which helps medical students get a better idea of what their job is going to look like in the real world. AR and VR technology are also being used by big businesses and organizations to help their workers get away from the office setting and explore new worlds, all from the comfort of one’s own cubicle.  Marketers are also utilizing AR and VR technology in order to better connect their brands and products with customers, creating newly immersive experiences that help build new brand loyalty, which translates into profit and growth. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Let-There-Be-Light.jpg] LET THERE BE LIGHT But what can AR possibly have to do with lighting and how can one light something virtually? Take the light bulb, for instance, which was invented in 1878 by none other than Thomas Edison. Edison began a serious experiment that would help people gain the advantage of using artificial light, rather than relying on the sun and/or candlelight. Edison filed his first patent application for “Improvement In Electric Lights” in order to make people’s lives better and easier. He did so by bringing light to a place where there was darkness, so to speak. There are AR apps available now, for instance, that incorporate virtual lighting in order to bring a variety of experiences to the comfort of one’s own home. With the help of augmented reality, users can now enjoy the Northern Lights in their living room, even when it’s pitch dark inside or outside. Why would people be interested in AR virtual lighting? During COVID-19 quarantine AR technology proved especially beneficial for those looking to shelter in place and experience nature in some way, shape, or form simultaneously. Many of us found out just how useful AR and VR technology can be when we’re left to our own devices and have to turn to ourselves and the items we already have for entertainment and engagement.  The technology works when a person peers through a smartphone camera, where virtual renderings are able to be layered over what we really see through our viewfinders. You can use AR technology to make a cloud start to rain virtually, or you can point your camera at a bird and have an AR interaction with it through your smartphone camera. DISNEY AND AR VIRTUAL LIGHTING Disney is currently developing a new invention that could eliminate traditional lighting altogether, which has many lighting designers quite interested, especially since Disney’s new invention would mean that designers wouldn’t have to carry around so much paperwork. If Disney is successful at their aims, then lighting effects responsibilities would be mostly assigned to some sort of augmented reality viewer. The Disney project’s patent application is called “Introducing Real-time Lighting Effects to Illuminate Real-world Physical Objects in See-through Augmented Reality Displays” (US 2021/0097757 A1), which was published April 1, 2021.  So, how does this AR virtual lighting thingy work? First, a shader and a light source generator are utilized in order to apply virtual illumination to real-world physical objects, which can be viewed through an applicable AR display. Disney’s new system has the ability to map three dimensional objects that occur and exist in the real world. The shader helps identify points of interest on the subject/object, which end up being the object’s vertices. These vertices are connected, creating numerous polygons, which helps map the real-world object in some sort of computer. Then, a computer-generated lighting source is applied to these special polygons that have been mapped out by the shader. As a result, the rendered scene lighting can now be displayed on top of real-world objects when viewed through an AR screen. Disney Develops AR System That Can Virtually Light Real Objects [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Disney-and-AR-Moving-Forward.jpg] DISNEY AND AR MOVING FORWARD Disney’s patent application abstracts go into pretty extensive detail about their new AR inventions, extensive details that we’ll spare you from. Essentially, users will be able to see “virtual content specific to the interaction entity… presented to augment an appearance of the interaction entity,” according to Disney’s patent. In layman’s terms, the user will view an object through a smartphone or some sort of headset. Objects will then either illuminate and/or come to life via augmented content that is created by Disney. The implications of such technology will enable users to, say, pick up a Mickey Mouse toy, look at their Mickey toy through a headset, and have the toy talk to you. Body channel communication (BCC) technology is technology that will surely be combined with Disney’s AR virtual lighting technology to exciting results. This kind of technology will allow and promote two-way communication via touch interaction. One thing is for certain, Disney will continue to be on the forefront of AR and VR technology due to the fact that they are so embedded in entertainment and creating a good old fashioned spectacle. When you look at Disney, you’ll always get a sense that tomorrow’s future is being made today.

Get Playing with Google Search AR

Get Playing with Google Search AR

June 11, 2021

Google’s augmented reality experiences bring anime characters like Hello Kitty, Evangelion, Ultraman and more into the user’s personal space. These anime additions join other augmented reality search animals that make finding info via the search engine a bit more entertaining. So what animals are available via Google’s augmented reality search? The full list might be a mystery, as Google hasn’t published a list of all the augmented reality wildlife. While The Verge sends readers to Android Police for an extensive list, we’re about to tackle an alphabetical list to find all (or hopefully…some!) of Google’s animals. Let’s get playing with Google Search AR! Will every animal be included? Is Google’s augmented reality search an AR Noah’s Ark of variety? You’re about to find out! AARDVARK The first animal to enter into Google’s search engine apparently does NOT bring up an augmented reality feature. So, no, users cannot place the aardvark on their bed. That aardvark also will not be able to work next to you at home. Aardvark’s are not AR-compatible. Bummer. AFRICAN ELEPHANT Not only are African Elephants lacking any kind of AR feature…but elephants (as a general search) also don’t pull up augmented reality or virtual reality. There might need to be a petition to AR the elephants. Imagine dropping one into the home! Thanks to augmented reality, everyone could have a pet elephant…in AR! ALPACA No fuzzy, fluffy augmented reality alpacas. Sorry. ANTEATER Google is now 0 of 2. Anteaters also are not, apparently, going to pop up in augmented reality or virtual reality. This could have been a really crazy augmented reality experience, too. Maybe the anteater could suck up some ants in AR. ANTELOPE The species native to Africa and Eurasia also is not going to gallop in the user’s backyard thanks to augmented reality. Antelopes also are not part of the AR experience. ARMADILLO Like most of the above animals that lack any augmented reality, there is a link that takes users to facts about this animal. However, yet again…no AR! BADGER Welcome to the B’s. Badgers do not include augmented reality features. BAT This is probably becoming monotonous to read. Bats also are not highlighted with augmented reality. BEAR HOORAY! Google allows users to bring a bear to life and view a brown bear in 3D! Augment the bear into your space. BEAVER The fact that the beaver isn’t given some type of fun experience is disappointing. The augmented reality beaver should be a reality! BLUE WHALE While the blue whale is the largest mammal in the world, users cannot augment this marine mammal into their environment. An augmented reality blue whale could have had so much potential. Get Playing with Google Search AR [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AR-Animals.jpg] GOOGLE’S ARK OF AR ANIMALS ISN’T QUITE SO PACKED The list of animals obviously does not end at ‘blue whale.’ Not even close. There are more than eight million animals across the globe, and searching each one on Google would be incredibly time consuming. However, in searching some of the most common animals, there seem to be many missing from Google’s augmented reality ark. Elephants aren’t augmented. Bats can’t fly around the room. What animals can come alive in augmented reality via Google Search? It’s time to cheat. It’s time to consult that masterful list via Android Police. Check out the site’s roundup of all the animals it found that could be augmented via the search. Many of the known animals are dog and cat breeds, which means many of the more unusual animals around the world aren’t augmented…at least not that the site has discovered. While Android Police offers a pretty comprehensive list of about 50 animals, it did miss ‘bear.’ And also lions. According to Android Police, Google doesn’t offer a list of the animals. There is no way of knowing how many are out there! What’s unusual, though, is that even some of the more popular animals—like monkeys—aren’t augmented. The discovered animals also don’t include many species of reptiles, birds or even fish. These missing species could be a missed opportunity for a really unique augmented reality feature. Think about a snake slithering in the house via AR. A fish swimming in midair. Or an eagle flying. Searching for boa constrictor, anaconda and rattlesnake only brought up typical search results…in addition to a section with more info. This doesn’t mean that snakes aren’t included; there could be a snake among the many species. Finding it means searching for every snake. However, even searching for the generic term “snake” failed to bring up augmented reality. An augmented reality experience featuring birds would be unique. Would the birds fly or just perch? Google could get creative! Currently, searches for Bald Eagle, owl, hawks, parrots and dove also turn up no additional augmented reality features. Fish aren’t very exciting, so it shouldn’t be shocking to find them without much augmented reality. Goldfish, barracudas, and even piranha resulted in zero augmented or virtual reality experiences. However, the Great White Shark does have its own augmented reality feature! The Great White can swim right into the home. Or hang out on the porch. Whatever works! Other marine life—including squid, whales and crabs—can’t drop into your personal space! At least not yet. Who knows, though. Maybe a crustacean is lurking in augmented reality in the abyss of Google. Augmenting Anime [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmenting-Anime.jpg] AUGMENTING ANIME While many animals are not featured on Google’s augmented reality search list, favorite anime characters can pop in to say hello. Sanrio’s popular characters–including Hello Kitty and Little Twin Stars—are among the many anime friends that can appear in the user’s space. The coolest character, however, might just be Pac-Man. While Google mentioned in an April 2021 blog that Pac-Man would be a featured augmented reality character in Search, the query yielded no yellow pellet-eating Pac-Man. However, searching for Pac-man did bring up the fun Google Doodle! THE POTENTIAL OF AUGMENTED REALITY SEARCH While many search queries failed to bring up an augmented reality experience, there might be a lot of room for Google to grow with this feature. With more than eight million animals, augmented reality could bring many more of them into the lives of the user. As augmented reality and virtual reality evolves, though, perhaps these experiences become more immersive. Could Google create more unique interactions with each animal? Maybe the augmented reality experience includes options for movement or, in the case of some species, even changing their fur or feather color. In birds, for example, males plumage is often more colorful. Dogs also could have different colorings. WHAT ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY SEARCH? Currently, search results via Google can include a 3D augmented reality experience for different animals and characters. But could Google or another platform create a virtual reality search? With the ever-evolving technology, search platforms could one day feature virtual reality. Maybe all users will wear glasses or a headset and search queries will pop up before our eyes. Searches might become interactive. Perhaps searching for a zebra takes the user on an adventure into the Serengeti. While virtual reality searches aren’t a reality, many apps are infused with virtual and/or augmented reality to elevate the user experience. For example, IKEA features an augmented reality experience that lets users preview furniture. Sephora and Ulta offer a virtual try-on experience. Even paint can be previewed in augmented reality. Whether a user owns an Android device or an Apple, each company offers many different augmented reality apps in their stores. And there are augmented reality apps for many favorite hobbies or interests. SkyView Lite uses the phone’s camera to view the night sky; the app then shows the constellations drawn into the stars. Augmented reality and virtual reality apps also can help shoppers looking for a new car. RelayCars offers both an augmented reality and virtual reality app that lets users preview different makes and models of cars. The virtual reality showroom doesn’t require a headset; users simply enter a virtual 3D showroom where they can rotate their favorite vehicle to view it from different vantage points, change paint colors and even look inside. The augmented reality app lets users drop a car into the real world environment. Users can see how that new car might look in the driveway. Or in the garage. Wineries even offer apps where customers can explore the wine label in augmented reality. Experiences can be tailored to the unique needs of each vineyard. Some might include mysteries! Even kids can use augmented reality apps to help understand the world around them. There are apps that help identify different flora and fauna. And apps that let children (and adults) explore the solar system in any space (augment the planets). Some apps like GeoGebra Augmented Reality augment math concepts. Google even offers unique augmented reality experiences beyond the Search bar. There’s Floom, which lets users create a portal to the other side of the planet. Another experience lets users augment social distancing. There’s even an app in the works that will augment a user’s photos! Unfortunately, these experiences can only be enjoyed by Android users. Search, however, can be used by anyone. While sites like Google Police have found many augmented reality animals on Search, there may be many more to explore. Bored? Search for an animal, and you might find a new augmented reality friend.

Categories: Augmented Reality
How a Virtual Reality Car Showroom Simplifies Car Shopping

How a Virtual Reality Car Showroom Simplifies Car Shopping

June 9, 2021

Car buying has moved online because of Covid, and while the automotive industry might not have anticipated the sudden pivot to the virtual world, consumers have embraced the new virtual trend. According to Cox Automotive’s Digitization of End-to-End Retail study, “…64% of shoppers want to do more of the purchase process online the next time they buy a vehicle.” Shopping for a car online might be the future of car buying, and many dealerships may be adding more online resources—like a virtual reality car showroom—to aid potential buyers. Here’s how a virtual reality car showroom simplifies car shopping and why and how consumers can use these resources. Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/What-is-a-Virtual-Reality-Car-Showroom.jpg] WHAT IS A VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOM? Before Covid, most consumers on the hunt for a new car might have looked at dealership inventory online, scrolled through pictures, priced their favorites and then headed out to visit a few dealerships for the best price. When the pandemic shut down most nonessential businesses, car dealerships might have moved their business online. This meant that many consumers might not have been able to leisurely stroll around the showroom. While pictures might capture the basic look of the vehicle, those photos don’t—and really can’t—tell the whole story. Yes, there can be photos of the interior. Dealerships can even take videos or up-close snapshots of the details. However, those photos don’t allow for much interaction beyond clicking through a slideshow or watching a video. Virtual reality car showrooms allow dealerships to digitally replicate the in-person experience in a virtual realm. These showrooms can be accessed via an app, with or without a headset. In its most basic form—without headset navigation—consumers can choose a vehicle and view it in a three-dimensional space. The vehicle is shown to scale, and consumers can look inside, change the color of the body paint…and more. With a headset, these spaces are much more interactive. Users actually come up close to these three-dimensional virtual cars and can interact with them in the virtual space. Again, this allows the consumer to access the interior of the car, swap out the paint hue and even look at the vehicle from different vantage points. Virtual reality car showrooms—like the one offered by RelayCars—provide consumers with the option to preview many different makes from multiple manufacturers, including luxury brands like Porsche and Ferrari. HOW DO VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS SIMPLIFY SHOPPING? While Covid restrictions kept many consumers at home or limited their visits to stores, some consumers still needed to purchase a new car. Virtual reality car showrooms allowed the car shopping experience to be accessible at home…or anywhere. But it also may help to simplify the experience beyond Covid. In fact, dealers surveyed for the Cox study believed that online experiences might be more personalized. The study noted that “…75% agree that digital retailing provides shoppers a more customized experience.” How can online resources and digital retailing provide this type of experience? Online resources can be used however the consumer desires. Customers using a virtual reality showroom might only preview the vehicles on their wish list. They don’t have to scroll through a list of online inventory. They can look at the cars that interest them, and then pursue the dealerships. Dealership experiences also could allow for more customized experiences in that even the sales interactions can happen virtually. This may help customers cut through the red tape of the experience by simply requesting info on the cars they need or want and not getting sidetracked with other vehicles in the inventory. Online interactions also could be more direct and to the point, eliminating a time-consuming in-person experience that could have taken hours. When shopping online, consumers also can look at their leisure, without pressure. If needed, they could request a virtual test drive or head to the dealership to view their favorite vehicles in person. USING VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS TO COMPLEMENT THE IN-PERSON EXPERIENCE The light at the end of the Covid tunnel is visible, and this may mean that in-person shopping may come with fewer restrictions to consumers. However, the online experience may still be valuable and can work to complement the in-person shopping experience. Consumers can use virtual reality car showrooms as a research tool to preview the vehicles that most interest them. The virtual realm can help consumers explore the look of the vehicle and what it has to offer. Using their online favorites as a guide, consumers can then check out local dealerships to find price points and any promotions or savings. Or consumers may have a list of their favorite vehicles and then visit the dealership for a test drive. Virtual reality car showrooms also can help consumers understand what they don’t want. Maybe a specific vehicle seemed ideal, but previewing the vehicle in the virtual space might have revealed space constraints in the back seat or perhaps other issues that crossed that dreamy vehicle off the list. Pictures are two-dimensional, but viewing the car in 3D may provide a better physical understanding of the vehicle. Virtual Reality Car Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Future-of-Virtual-Reality-Car-Showrooms.jpg] THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS While RelayCars can be accessed via a headset, a more immersive virtual reality experience is on the horizon. The future of car shopping will be virtual…and very close to the in-person experience. The next generation of the virtual reality car showroom will be accessible via Steam. The app is known as Roomscale, and the experience is a true virtual reality showroom experience. In this new virtual realm, users will be able to walk around and interact with whatever vehicle is on the must-see list. There will be an inventory of vehicle choices, and the interactions will closely mirror those in an actual showroom. Even better? Users can explore whatever car they wish. If it’s in the inventory, check it out! Not only does this give users the freedom to explore new types of vehicles, maybe it also helps some car buyers set a goal for a dream car of the future. Or, of course, users can just check out cars for fun. Roomscale and the immersive virtual reality car showroom may represent what the future holds for car buying. Consumers have shown that they like the virtual shopping option. Perhaps this is due to the laid-back atmosphere that the virtual realm offers. There is no sales pressure when visiting virtual showrooms. The power might shift to the consumer. VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOMS WITHOUT THE HEADSET Roomscale will require that users have a virtual reality headset. However, RelayCars will continue to offer a virtual reality car showroom that can be accessed by anyone…with or without a headset. Using the standard app, users can preview cars in the virtual environment and interact with the vehicles via a phone or other device. Multiple app options provide accessibility to a wider audience. And, for users who want an augmented experience, RelayCars also offers an augmented reality car showroom. This app lets users preview the vehicle of their choice within their own environment. Drop a vehicle in the garage, the living room, the backyard…anywhere. With augmented reality, users can walk around the vehicle, peek inside and switch the colors of the exterior of the vehicle. Augmented reality provides a different type of immersive experience. By allowing users to drop a vehicle anywhere, it also allows users to customize their car hunt. Now shoppers can actually see what that car looks like in the driveway! It might be too big. Or too green! Change it up! WHAT’S THE COST OF A VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SHOWROOM? For consumers, the big question about online resources is “what’s the cost?” All the apps offered by RelayCars can be downloaded for free. There is no cost to experience virtual reality or augmented reality…unless, of course, users want to purchase a headset. Buying a new car is a major purchase. MarketWatch reported that the average cost of a new car has soared to more than $40,000. While there are models far below this average, many consumers may face sticker shock when hunting for that new vehicle. Researching options helps consumers find the best car for their lifestyle and, hopefully, helps them find the best price, too. While virtual reality or augmented reality car showrooms don’t provide price data, they can help consumers better understand what vehicles they like so they can narrow down their choices. Maybe a consumer finds a few favorites via the virtual reality showroom only to research the models and discover that they are just too expensive. That shopper didn’t have to spend gas money driving to a dealership or waste time looking at cars that simply were beyond their budget. Instead, shoppers can browse the virtual inventory, taking their time to find the best car for them…and then focus on finding deals at local dealerships. Not only can these online resources simplify the shopping experience, but it also can help lower stress, frustration and time waste. Shoppers who know what they want also might be a dream customer for sales teams who can then focus on finalizing the deal…instead of touring a lot. A win-win for everyone!

Categories: Virtual Reality
Is VR Mindfulness More Than a New Workplace Trend?

Is VR Mindfulness More Than a New Workplace Trend?

June 7, 2021

Many of us know the concept of virtual reality and it is likely that most of us have experienced it in some form or another over the years — most likely in the form of an immersive virtual experience or via video games. Family fun centers have been utilizing virtual reality to create amusement park style experiences within the confines of a single building for years. Oculus Rift has been utilized by not only gamers but also by a variety of professionals to trick the mind into thinking that it actually inhabits a virtually constructed world. Early precursors of virtual reality have been popping up here and there since the sixties — but nothing really caught on until recently due to technological limitations. Virtual reality is in a far better place than it was in the 80s for multiple reasons. To say that virtual reality has influenced video gaming is nothing new. What is new is the fact that VR is being used for a variety of purposes beyond creating an immersive gamer experience. For instance, the medical industry utilizes virtual reality for examining human biology, not to mention helping prospective surgeons practice certain methods and procedures virtually. The health and wellness industry is worth around 4.5 trillion dollars globally, statistics show, and it’s an industry that spends a lot of resources developing high end products that are aimed toward a socially and health conscious demographic. It’s no small wonder that businesses and brands around the world are now looking to utilize virtual reality in order to assist employees, especially those who are feeling less inspired within the constraints of a normal 9-5 job.  Is VR Mindfulness More Than a New Workplace Trend? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/VR-and-the-Health-and-Wellness-Industry.jpg] VR AND THE HEALTH AND WELLNESS INDUSTRY Virtual reality has been adopted by and incorporated into the health and wellness realm in a variety of exciting ways. As VR technology moves forward, the idea of VR only being associated with video games will seem like more and more of an antiquated concept.  VR technology is helping individuals: * Deal with pain management * Learn crucial health and wellness education in a new and interactive way * Treat PTSD and undergo certain parts of the injury rehabilitation process VR can now provide people with stress relief, enhance various fitness and wellness practices, and assist those who are aging in place in retirement homes. How does virtual reality help someone feel better or feel less pain? Virtual reality inherently aims to create an immersive experience for people, which ends up having an effect that leaves a person feeling pulled away from daily realities. When we are in pain or in states of distress or confusion, our awareness of our own pain increases and alleviates. When we can be released and delivered from our own pain and ailments, our mind is able to focus on other things, which provides a therapeutic effect. As virtual reality becomes more and more sophisticated, each and every sense will aim to be captured and integrated into a high caliber virtual reality experience. Once taste and smell can be successfully and convincingly incorporated into a virtual experience along with sight, touch, and sound, virtual therapy and virtual mindfulness will evolve as well. BUSINESSES AND HEALTH AND WELLNESS Nowadays people are highly aware of a business and/or brand’s social standing, which might include how businesses treat their employees. Now that just about each and every person has a platform to be seen and heard, stories are getting told about harsh and undesirable circumstances that some employers may or may not be subjecting their employees to. Perhaps as some sort of response, more forward-thinking companies are spending thought energy coming up with ways to promote wellness at the workplace. You might have heard about that hot new tech company downtown that has a yoga studio in their building and buys vegan food every Friday for their employees, or maybe there’s a new smoothie machine in the break room that is indicative of many employers at least making an effort to promote wellness at the workplace. Is VR Mindfulness More Than a New Workplace Trend? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/VR-Mindfulness-and-Wellness-in-the-Workplace.jpg] VR MINDFULNESS AND WELLNESS IN THE WORKPLACE Employers have a vested interest in putting energy into making sure their employees are happy and healthy, especially in their work environment, which inspires creativity and productivity. On the contrary, anxiety and stress can seriously curb someone’s ability to perform their job successfully, not to mention spend precious time and energy that could be better spent on day-to-day operations.  But it’s not so easy to see what is going on in the mind, especially since people always try to put their best foot forward while at work. There is still a negative connotation with mental illness, which might also be a reason why VR mindfulness is catching on in the workplace, where anonymity can be held intact. VR mindfulness tools enable users to engage in an illusory experience alone, in the comfort of their office or cubicle. Speaking of cubicles, one of the number one complaints that employees have is feeling trapped at work, especially when working in smaller spaces. A VR experience is an easy and cost-effective way for an employee to escape their everyday working environment and visit a faraway place or even a newly constructed virtual reality that doesn’t exist in the waking world. The Sunday scaries are a real thing, and they have to do with the average worker dreading going into work on Mondays, so much so that it compromises their ability to enjoy their Sunday, which accounts for 50% of the average worker’s weekend. It turns out that being able to teleport to new realms (albeit only momentarily) has a lot of benefits for someone working at a brick and mortar establishment — upper brass and groundfloor ranking employees alike. VR is more than simply technology that gives an employee the ability to view a new environment, they can also interact with it via tracking performed by remotes equipped in the hardware in the three-dimensional space. Workers can now interact with virtual environments, creating a more well-rounded immersive experience. Is VR Mindfulness More Than a New Workplace Trend? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/VR-Games.jpg] OKAY, SO THERE ARE GAMES… Obviously some employers might want to create a fun and entertaining virtual experience for their employees that will allow them to blow off steam during breaks from productivity. Taking rest from work is a good way to recharge the batteries and attack an old problem from a new angle. Many employers have dart boards and foosball tables that allow employees to entertain themselves, but these forms of entertainment have obvious limitations. Only 2-4 people can play foosball. Only a few people can play darts. However, a virtual game can be used by every employee simultaneously, as long as there are enough headsets and hardware for the entire team. On the wellness side, there is far more serious and therapeutic work to be done. Meditation apps are utilizing virtual reality to help users surrender to meditative processes, which helps the mind slow itself down, which is a prime state to try to let thoughts settle down. Turns out there is a ton of stimulation at work. Top stresses that employees and employers experience at work is: * Financial Troubles * Unrealistic Goals and Expectations * Workplace Politics * Deadlines * Lack of Clear Leadership * Lack of Accountability These sorts of issues can seriously compromise an individual’s ability to perform their job in a functional manner, much less excel at what they do. Once one team member is feeling down and out at the workplace, they might feel the inclination to lament to others, which will ultimately lower the team morale in immeasurable ways. VR mindfulness tools that don’t go the gaming route are more geared toward education, often providing instructions and even tutorials that provide benefits to the user, especially when it comes to stress management.  VR guided meditation is tremendously beneficial to employees, especially since common complaints about meditation in general include:  * Inability to concentrate * Boredom * Futility * Difficulty A VR guided meditation aims to assist a user in the meditation process by using sound and virtual imagery that will capture a person’s attention and interest, while guiding them into a more meditative state. Before an employee knows it, they’ve just completed a 10-20 minute guided meditation and get to experience all of the wellness benefits that come as a result. Doing a VR guided meditation a few times a week or even once a day is a small investment in creating a new culture at any given workplace. Instead of asking employees to do it on their own time, employers can show some initiative and show a caring gesture by providing this sort of experience during business hours. VR wellness technology is showing up in workplace wellness rooms for businesses that have the resources to construct an immersive virtual reality experience in their own offices. Otherwise, it’s much simpler and cost effective to invest in a few headsets that employees can utilize during down time. One thing is for sure, VR is a new and exciting coworker for many employees around the world.

Categories: Virtual Reality
Covid Normal: The Popularity of Immersive Experiences

Covid Normal: The Popularity of Immersive Experiences

June 4, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control recently updated outdoor safety recommendations for vaccinated individuals. Some cities or states also might be relaxing guidelines as more individuals get vaccinated and Covid cases decrease. The entertainment industry may be ready for normalcy to return, as theaters and concert venues and other entertainment and cultural institutions either closed to the public or limited capacity. The popularity of immersive experiences like virtual reality likely increased in popularity during Covid (and even now), as the public needed safe forms of entertainment and venues needed to stay afloat. Virtual concerts and virtual tours and experiences continue to be offered, but what will the future hold for these immersive and alternative entertainment options? Has Covid changed the entertainment industry for good? COVID PUMMELS ENTERTAINMENT When Covid hit the United States, many businesses that weren’t essential closed their doors to the public. For entertainment venues, restaurants, theaters and museums and other cultural venues, the halt in visitors meant finding other ways to stay financially secure. While some might have qualified for government assistance through relief programs like PPP, many also might have turned to alternative ways to continue to offer services to the public…safely. A pivot to online experiences became popular. Museums offered virtual tours or maybe even online classes; this helped them reach out to the public, and it also provided entertainment options to individuals stuck at home. Musicians and performance venues might have felt the full force of the shutdown. Some musicians hosted online concerts for fans. Others might have struggled. Movie theaters were hit hard. The Motley Fool reported that several smaller movie theaters shut down permanently because of Covid. And there is no telling how the future will look, or if people will want to congregate in masses in theaters even after Covid. The public might be spoiled with being able to pay for movies at home and enjoy them on the couch…without the pricey snacks. The Centers for Disease Control recently updated outdoor safety recommendations for vaccinated individuals. Some cities or states also might be relaxing guidelines as more individuals get vaccinated and Covid cases decrease. The entertainment industry may be ready for normalcy to return, as theaters and concert venues and other entertainment and cultural institutions either closed to the public or limited capacity. The popularity of immersive experiences like virtual reality likely increased in popularity during Covid (and even now), as the public needed safe forms of entertainment and venues needed to stay afloat. Virtual concerts and virtual tours and experiences continue to be offered, but what will the future hold for these immersive and alternative entertainment options? Has Covid changed the entertainment industry for good? Covid Pummels Entertainment When Covid hit the United States, many businesses that weren’t essential closed their doors to the public. For entertainment venues, restaurants, theaters and museums and other cultural venues, the halt in visitors meant finding other ways to stay financially secure. While some might have qualified for government assistance through relief programs like PPP, many also might have turned to alternative ways to continue to offer services to the public…safely. A pivot to online experiences became popular. Museums offered virtual tours or maybe even online classes; this helped them reach out to the public, and it also provided entertainment options to individuals stuck at home. Musicians and performance venues might have felt the full force of the shutdown. Some musicians hosted online concerts for fans. Others might have struggled. Movie theaters were hit hard. The Motley Fool reported that several smaller movie theaters shut down permanently because of Covid. And there is no telling how the future will look, or if people will want to congregate in masses in theaters even after Covid. The public might be spoiled with being able to pay for movies at home and enjoy them on the couch…without the pricey snacks. Streaming, Virtual Reality and Wired World of Entertainment While Americans and individuals across the globe were sitting at home, they needed to find ways to pass their time…when they weren’t working from home. Obviously, trips to museums and theaters were out of the picture. But the internet was full of possibilities. Entertainment went wired; it streamed, augmented and went virtual. Movie theaters might have been zapped of revenue, but streaming services were racking up subscribers. Netflix surged. And so did other subscription streaming services. Streaming Movies For the first time, new movies—those once anticipated for the big screen—could be premiered at home with a price much lower than a few movie tickets. Concessions were in the pantry or fridge. Have to go to the bathroom? The movie could be paused and restarted at the viewer’s convenience. There were no cell phones ringing. No kicks to the back of the chair. No chatty kids. Virtual Tours What about museums? They might have been closed to foot traffic, but visitors still had options. Virtual reality played a role in recreating the in-person experience at home. Some virtual experiences could have required a headset, but most were fully accessible online. Virtual didn’t necessarily translate to entering a virtual world (like with a headset) but simply experiencing a venue remotely. Museums like the Louvre and even historic locations like the Sistine Chapel let visitors take tours online at home. Navigation through the locations could be done with a mouse or maybe by touching the screen (if the user was on a tablet). Other museums might have offered guided virtual tours where a staff member took the viewer around the museum with the aid of a camera. This was a bit like a remote walking tour. There were (and are) virtual tours of historic locations and cultural landmarks, too. Some were uploaded to YouTube by sites or maybe by visitors. Even from home, individuals could take a walking tour of The Great Wall of China, tour Buckingham Palace (from the BBC), or even virtually visit the Pyramids of Giza. Virtual Concerts Virtual concerts didn’t necessarily involve headsets or anything high-tech, beyond, of course, an internet connection and a device. Usually concerts were live streamed and could be watched on different sites or platforms. They might require tickets, although some were free. Virtual concerts or live streaming concerts are still popular. In fact, Billboard compiled a list of all the upcoming concerts for those who want to watch their favorite artists perform. The list is updated periodically. Exploring the World with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality The pandemic also ushered in other types of immersive experiences to help students at home during Covid, and, hopefully, make learning from home a bit more exciting. There were apps that students could use to snap photos of flora and fauna in nature to find out more about them (including identification). Other apps like Skyview Lite allowed users to use their phone to look at the night sky for constellation information. Skyview will even find satellites! Immersive Shopping Experiences Retail businesses also embraced immersive virtual experiences. Before Covid, many businesses already had an online presence. However, the pandemic likely made online visibility and accessibility much more important to survival. While not everyone was shopping for items beyond the essential, some consumers might have taken solace in scrolling through clothes or other items. Consumers might have jumped online to find casual clothes for the new work-from-home normal, too. For the automotive industry, online shopping really was not the norm before Covid. The shift to online car shopping for the consumer, though, probably wasn’t so new. Many car buyers used online resources to begin their car shopping experiences; in 2019, Cox Automotive reported that “Third-party sites are the top online source for both new and used buyers, with 80% of all car buyers visiting them during the shopping process.” During the pandemic, shoppers headed online to save time, too. According to an article by Kelley Blue Book that cited the “Car Buyer Journey Study, Pandemic Edition from Cox Automotive (which is KBB’s parent company):” “A total of 86 percent said they shopped online to save time at the dealership, during the pandemic.” Third-party sites, however, also might have improved their own content during the pandemic. Sites like RelayCars offered virtual and augmented reality showrooms that shoppers could use to preview their favorite cars before heading to the dealership. Virtual showrooms could be accessed via headset and an app available on Steam or just a regular device (via an app). While the virtual showroom provided cars in an online or virtual space, the augmented showroom gave users quite a different experience. Cars could be dropped into the user’s own space. This could be the driveway, a kitchen table or even the backyard. The car was visible via the device and the user could walk around the vehicle, look inside and update the car with a different paint hue. Immersive Experiences After the Pandemic While the pandemic is starting to subside as more individuals get vaccinated, the old normal could still be a distance away. The pandemic changed life abruptly, and some of these changes might just stick around. When life re-opens and gatherings can be held without worry (and without social distancing and masks), people may once again flock to concerts and festivals and even enjoy a movie. But will immersive experiences just die down? What the future holds remains to be seen. Some people might not feel comfortable being in big groups. Others may welcome normalcy. But virtual and augmented reality and the experiences they provide might continue to be embraced. The pandemic might have opened up a virtual world to those who had never experienced it. When virtual and online experiences were the norm, perhaps those bored at home sought them out…when they might not have done so before Covid. Virtual and augmented reality experiences may continue to flourish and be in demand. And consumers might like the idea of buying a ticket to a virtual event. Maybe virtual seats will be offered in the future. Perhaps concerts allow people to watch at home with a virtual ticket. But instead of just a television performance, maybe the experience is somehow more immersive. Maybe it’s even augmented. Place the musician anywhere! Unfortunately, no one really knows how normal will look after the pandemic. Things may go back to pre-Covid normalcy, or the world could become an interesting mix of real-life and virtual experiences. Before Covid, online shopping wasn’t new. However, the pandemic may have allowed consumers to realize that these online channels can decrease the time they spend finding the perfect item, especially when shopping for a new car. Virtual tourism also could become a trend. Virtual tours could provide accessibility to sites that some individuals couldn’t experience because of financial or other reasons. Maybe museums and cultural venues continue to offer these experiences as a means to reach a wider audience. As restrictions start to subside, we may soon understand how normal will look and if the public is breathing a sigh of relief from an unmasked face or still continuing to err on the side of caution six feet away. Old habits die hard, and life after Covid might be a mixture of relief and uncertainty. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Virtual-Reality-and-Wired-World-of-Entertainment.jpg] STREAMING, VIRTUAL REALITY AND WIRED WORLD OF ENTERTAINMENT While Americans and individuals across the globe were sitting at home, they needed to find ways to pass their time…when they weren’t working from home. Obviously, trips to museums and theaters were out of the picture. But the internet was full of possibilities. Entertainment went wired; it streamed, augmented and went virtual. Movie theaters might have been zapped of revenue, but streaming services were racking up subscribers. Netflix surged. And so did other subscription streaming services. STREAMING MOVIES For the first time, new movies—those once anticipated for the big screen—could be premiered at home with a price much lower than a few movie tickets. Concessions were in the pantry or fridge. Have to go to the bathroom? The movie could be paused and restarted at the viewer’s convenience. There were no cell phones ringing. No kicks to the back of the chair. No chatty kids. VIRTUAL TOURS What about museums? They might have been closed to foot traffic, but visitors still had options. Virtual reality played a role in recreating the in-person experience at home. Some virtual experiences could have required a headset, but most were fully accessible online. Virtual didn’t necessarily translate to entering a virtual world (like with a headset) but simply experiencing a venue remotely. Museums like the Louvre and even historic locations like the Sistine Chapel let visitors take tours online at home. Navigation through the locations could be done with a mouse or maybe by touching the screen (if the user was on a tablet). Other museums might have offered guided virtual tours where a staff member took the viewer around the museum with the aid of a camera. This was a bit like a remote walking tour. There were (and are) virtual tours of historic locations and cultural landmarks, too. Some were uploaded to YouTube by sites or maybe by visitors. Even from home, individuals could take a walking tour of The Great Wall of China, tour Buckingham Palace (from the BBC), or even virtually visit the Pyramids of Giza. VIRTUAL CONCERTS Virtual concerts didn’t necessarily involve headsets or anything high-tech, beyond, of course, an internet connection and a device. Usually concerts were live streamed and could be watched on different sites or platforms. They might require tickets, although some were free. Virtual concerts or live streaming concerts are still popular. In fact, Billboard compiled a list of all the upcoming concerts for those who want to watch their favorite artists perform. The list is updated periodically. EXPLORING THE WORLD WITH AUGMENTED REALITY AND VIRTUAL REALITY The pandemic also ushered in other types of immersive experiences to help students at home during Covid, and, hopefully, make learning from home a bit more exciting. There were apps that students could use to snap photos of flora and fauna in nature to find out more about them (including identification). Other apps like Skyview Lite allowed users to use their phone to look at the night sky for constellation information. Skyview will even find satellites! The Centers for Disease Control recently updated outdoor safety recommendations for vaccinated individuals. Some cities or states also might be relaxing guidelines as more individuals get vaccinated and Covid cases decrease. The entertainment industry may be ready for normalcy to return, as theaters and concert venues and other entertainment and cultural institutions either closed to the public or limited capacity. The popularity of immersive experiences like virtual reality likely increased in popularity during Covid (and even now), as the public needed safe forms of entertainment and venues needed to stay afloat. Virtual concerts and virtual tours and experiences continue to be offered, but what will the future hold for these immersive and alternative entertainment options? Has Covid changed the entertainment industry for good? Covid Pummels Entertainment When Covid hit the United States, many businesses that weren’t essential closed their doors to the public. For entertainment venues, restaurants, theaters and museums and other cultural venues, the halt in visitors meant finding other ways to stay financially secure. While some might have qualified for government assistance through relief programs like PPP, many also might have turned to alternative ways to continue to offer services to the public…safely. A pivot to online experiences became popular. Museums offered virtual tours or maybe even online classes; this helped them reach out to the public, and it also provided entertainment options to individuals stuck at home. Musicians and performance venues might have felt the full force of the shutdown. Some musicians hosted online concerts for fans. Others might have struggled. Movie theaters were hit hard. The Motley Fool reported that several smaller movie theaters shut down permanently because of Covid. And there is no telling how the future will look, or if people will want to congregate in masses in theaters even after Covid. The public might be spoiled with being able to pay for movies at home and enjoy them on the couch…without the pricey snacks. Streaming, Virtual Reality and Wired World of Entertainment While Americans and individuals across the globe were sitting at home, they needed to find ways to pass their time…when they weren’t working from home. Obviously, trips to museums and theaters were out of the picture. But the internet was full of possibilities. Entertainment went wired; it streamed, augmented and went virtual. Movie theaters might have been zapped of revenue, but streaming services were racking up subscribers. Netflix surged. And so did other subscription streaming services. Streaming Movies For the first time, new movies—those once anticipated for the big screen—could be premiered at home with a price much lower than a few movie tickets. Concessions were in the pantry or fridge. Have to go to the bathroom? The movie could be paused and restarted at the viewer’s convenience. There were no cell phones ringing. No kicks to the back of the chair. No chatty kids. Virtual Tours What about museums? They might have been closed to foot traffic, but visitors still had options. Virtual reality played a role in recreating the in-person experience at home. Some virtual experiences could have required a headset, but most were fully accessible online. Virtual didn’t necessarily translate to entering a virtual world (like with a headset) but simply experiencing a venue remotely. Museums like the Louvre and even historic locations like the Sistine Chapel let visitors take tours online at home. Navigation through the locations could be done with a mouse or maybe by touching the screen (if the user was on a tablet). Other museums might have offered guided virtual tours where a staff member took the viewer around the museum with the aid of a camera. This was a bit like a remote walking tour. There were (and are) virtual tours of historic locations and cultural landmarks, too. Some were uploaded to YouTube by sites or maybe by visitors. Even from home, individuals could take a walking tour of The Great Wall of China, tour Buckingham Palace (from the BBC), or even virtually visit the Pyramids of Giza. Virtual Concerts Virtual concerts didn’t necessarily involve headsets or anything high-tech, beyond, of course, an internet connection and a device. Usually concerts were live streamed and could be watched on different sites or platforms. They might require tickets, although some were free. Virtual concerts or live streaming concerts are still popular. In fact, Billboard compiled a list of all the upcoming concerts for those who want to watch their favorite artists perform. The list is updated periodically. Exploring the World with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality The pandemic also ushered in other types of immersive experiences to help students at home during Covid, and, hopefully, make learning from home a bit more exciting. There were apps that students could use to snap photos of flora and fauna in nature to find out more about them (including identification). Other apps like Skyview Lite allowed users to use their phone to look at the night sky for constellation information. Skyview will even find satellites! Immersive Shopping Experiences Retail businesses also embraced immersive virtual experiences. Before Covid, many businesses already had an online presence. However, the pandemic likely made online visibility and accessibility much more important to survival. While not everyone was shopping for items beyond the essential, some consumers might have taken solace in scrolling through clothes or other items. Consumers might have jumped online to find casual clothes for the new work-from-home normal, too. For the automotive industry, online shopping really was not the norm before Covid. The shift to online car shopping for the consumer, though, probably wasn’t so new. Many car buyers used online resources to begin their car shopping experiences; in 2019, Cox Automotive reported that “Third-party sites are the top online source for both new and used buyers, with 80% of all car buyers visiting them during the shopping process.” During the pandemic, shoppers headed online to save time, too. According to an article by Kelley Blue Book that cited the “Car Buyer Journey Study, Pandemic Edition from Cox Automotive (which is KBB’s parent company):” “A total of 86 percent said they shopped online to save time at the dealership, during the pandemic.” Third-party sites, however, also might have improved their own content during the pandemic. Sites like RelayCars offered virtual and augmented reality showrooms that shoppers could use to preview their favorite cars before heading to the dealership. Virtual showrooms could be accessed via headset and an app available on Steam or just a regular device (via an app). While the virtual showroom provided cars in an online or virtual space, the augmented showroom gave users quite a different experience. Cars could be dropped into the user’s own space. This could be the driveway, a kitchen table or even the backyard. The car was visible via the device and the user could walk around the vehicle, look inside and update the car with a different paint hue. Immersive Experiences After the Pandemic While the pandemic is starting to subside as more individuals get vaccinated, the old normal could still be a distance away. The pandemic changed life abruptly, and some of these changes might just stick around. When life re-opens and gatherings can be held without worry (and without social distancing and masks), people may once again flock to concerts and festivals and even enjoy a movie. But will immersive experiences just die down? What the future holds remains to be seen. Some people might not feel comfortable being in big groups. Others may welcome normalcy. But virtual and augmented reality and the experiences they provide might continue to be embraced. The pandemic might have opened up a virtual world to those who had never experienced it. When virtual and online experiences were the norm, perhaps those bored at home sought them out…when they might not have done so before Covid. Virtual and augmented reality experiences may continue to flourish and be in demand. And consumers might like the idea of buying a ticket to a virtual event. Maybe virtual seats will be offered in the future. Perhaps concerts allow people to watch at home with a virtual ticket. But instead of just a television performance, maybe the experience is somehow more immersive. Maybe it’s even augmented. Place the musician anywhere! Unfortunately, no one really knows how normal will look after the pandemic. Things may go back to pre-Covid normalcy, or the world could become an interesting mix of real-life and virtual experiences. Before Covid, online shopping wasn’t new. However, the pandemic may have allowed consumers to realize that these online channels can decrease the time they spend finding the perfect item, especially when shopping for a new car. Virtual tourism also could become a trend. Virtual tours could provide accessibility to sites that some individuals couldn’t experience because of financial or other reasons. Maybe museums and cultural venues continue to offer these experiences as a means to reach a wider audience. As restrictions start to subside, we may soon understand how normal will look and if the public is breathing a sigh of relief from an unmasked face or still continuing to err on the side of caution six feet away. Old habits die hard, and life after Covid might be a mixture of relief and uncertainty. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Immersive-Shopping-Experiences.jpg] IMMERSIVE SHOPPING EXPERIENCES Retail businesses also embraced immersive virtual experiences. Before Covid, many businesses already had an online presence. However, the pandemic likely made online visibility and accessibility much more important to survival. While not everyone was shopping for items beyond the essential, some consumers might have taken solace in scrolling through clothes or other items. Consumers might have jumped online to find casual clothes for the new work-from-home normal, too. For the automotive industry, online shopping really was not the norm before Covid. The shift to online car shopping for the consumer, though, probably wasn’t so new. Many car buyers used online resources to begin their car shopping experiences; in 2019, Cox Automotive reported that “Third-party sites are the top online source for both new and used buyers, with 80% of all car buyers visiting them during the shopping process.” During the pandemic, shoppers headed online to save time, too. According to an article by Kelley Blue Book that cited the “Car Buyer Journey Study, Pandemic Edition from Cox Automotive (which is KBB’s parent company):” “A total of 86 percent said they shopped online to save time at the dealership, during the pandemic.” Third-party sites, however, also might have improved their own content during the pandemic. Sites like RelayCars offered virtual and augmented reality showrooms that shoppers could use to preview their favorite cars before heading to the dealership. Virtual showrooms could be accessed via headset and an app available on Steam or just a regular device (via an app). While the virtual showroom provided cars in an online or virtual space, the augmented showroom gave users quite a different experience. Cars could be dropped into the user’s own space. This could be the driveway, a kitchen table or even the backyard. The car was visible via the device and the user could walk around the vehicle, look inside and update the car with a different paint hue. IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES AFTER THE PANDEMIC While the pandemic is starting to subside as more individuals get vaccinated, the old normal could still be a distance away. The pandemic changed life abruptly, and some of these changes might just stick around. When life re-opens and gatherings can be held without worry (and without social distancing and masks), people may once again flock to concerts and festivals and even enjoy a movie. But will immersive experiences just die down? What the future holds remains to be seen. Some people might not feel comfortable being in big groups. Others may welcome normalcy. But virtual and augmented reality and the experiences they provide might continue to be embraced. The pandemic might have opened up a virtual world to those who had never experienced it. When virtual and online experiences were the norm, perhaps those bored at home sought them out…when they might not have done so before Covid. Virtual and augmented reality experiences may continue to flourish and be in demand. And consumers might like the idea of buying a ticket to a virtual event. Maybe virtual seats will be offered in the future. Perhaps concerts allow people to watch at home with a virtual ticket. But instead of just a television performance, maybe the experience is somehow more immersive. Maybe it’s even augmented. Place the musician anywhere! Unfortunately, no one really knows how normal will look after the pandemic. Things may go back to pre-Covid normalcy, or the world could become an interesting mix of real-life and virtual experiences. Before Covid, online shopping wasn’t new. However, the pandemic may have allowed consumers to realize that these online channels can decrease the time they spend finding the perfect item, especially when shopping for a new car. Virtual tourism also could become a trend. Virtual tours could provide accessibility to sites that some individuals couldn’t experience because of financial or other reasons. Maybe museums and cultural venues continue to offer these experiences as a means to reach a wider audience. As restrictions start to subside, we may soon understand how normal will look and if the public is breathing a sigh of relief from an unmasked face or still continuing to err on the side of caution six feet away. Old habits die hard, and life after Covid might be a mixture of relief and uncertainty.

Oh, Snap! Augmented Reality Comes to Life with Snap’s Spectacles

Oh, Snap! Augmented Reality Comes to Life with Snap’s Spectacles

June 2, 2021

Smart glasses might be the latest craze. Facebook x Ray-Ban has piqued the interest of those looking for a sleek and chic new pair of frames, but Facebook’s glasses and what they will feature are still a mystery. Amazon’s glasses connect to Alexa, while others, like Snap’s Spectacles, feature augmented reality.   But, oh, Snap! While Facebook and Amazon glasses are aimed at the general public, Snap’s Spectacles are beneficial to “creators.” The glasses weren’t necessarily developed for entertainment, but, rather, to use for immersive experiences. While, yes, you may be able to add those Specs to a cart, they really aren’t intended for general use. Specs aren’t gamer glasses, they are creative lenses that are mostly intended to be used by avid Snapchatters to make content even more immersive, enjoyable and layered with augmented reality. Oh, Snap! Augmented Reality Comes to Life with Snap’s Spectacles [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/About-Snapchat.jpg] ABOUT SNAPCHAT Snapchat is a popular social media app that allows users to post chats and snaps (text and photos or videos) that disappear after they are viewed. The app is represented by a ghost figure, which nods to the invisibility of messages…or the disappearance of those snaps and chats. According to Oberlo, Snapchat boasts about 265 million users (globally), and the majority of users (60 percent) are members of Generation Z. While data does seemingly disappear, users can also save content. This means that what some might assume will die in cyberspace actually lives on. However, data can also be publicly posted to a user’s story. And although the original premise of Snapchat was all about quick messages, it’s expanded to include unique and creative content. Like Instagram and other creative platforms, Snapchatters are now known for developing their own spin on Snaps and other content. This is where the Spectacles take center stage. PEEKING THROUGH SNAP’S SPECTACLES According to Snap, the glasses feature two cameras, and users can snap the world in 3D. Video can then include augmented reality overlays to enhance the video and content. CNET took a look through Snap’s Spectacles 3 (that is, the third generation model). The story detailed how the glasses can be used by Snap creators. CNET’s writer planned to augment a bird into a video. Users can select augmented reality lenses that are already built in or they can create their own. Some of the built-in options include balloons and flowers. So what can you create with Spectacles? The ideas are endless! However, Snap posted a few creator videos to illustrate the power and creative visions of the Specs. One video shows a colorful Kraken slithering through a scene (it was created by Velvet Spectrum). CNET notes that the glasses aren’t really an investment most could afford (the glasses cost $380); there also is a limited amount of the glasses. And, of course, the fourth generation of the Specs are slated to drop sometime this year. The newer models will be true AR glasses, per Wearable. AUGMENTING REALITY IN EYEWEAR So will smart eyewear and glasses become the next big fad in technology launches? Many companies have launched smart glasses, but these aren’t necessarily augmented reality glasses. For example, Amazon’s frames connect with their virtual assistant Alexa but the frames don’t offer any augmented reality data or features. Facebook’s glasses with Ray-Ban also won’t feature augmented reality. The teaser video posted on YouTube about the launch doesn’t even show what the new glasses will look like. Will they be Wayfarers? That would be a popular choice, but, again, nothing has been confirmed. True augmented reality glasses include Moverio (by Epson) and Vuzix Blade. These glasses may be used by businesses to aid technicians during repairs or employees in training. For example, augmented reality technology can decrease downtime in manufacturing by providing data and directions superimposed on machines and other equipment. This can aid training and help those new to the job become more efficient. Augmented reality ensures that time isn’t wasted hunting down training manuals or other materials. Oh, Snap! Augmented Reality Comes to Life with Snap’s Spectacles [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Augmented-Reality-Everyday.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY EVERYDAY Many true augmented reality glasses are an investment. Epson Moverio glasses can cost more than $500, and Vuzix Blade (upgraded) are priced $799.99. And not all glasses are intended for personal use; some are designed more for enterprise use or developers. True augmented reality glasses might be out of the price range for many consumers, though. Individuals looking for glasses for gaming, for example, would likely turn to virtual reality as augmented reality glasses aren’t needed to enjoy augmented reality games (like Pokemon GO). Many apps and built-in online experiences allow consumers to enjoy augmented reality without a steep financial investment. Many apps are even free. Most individuals have access to a smartphone, and both Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play offer a long list of augmented reality apps, including games and experiences. Augmented reality can be used to find constellations in the sky, and it can help create zombies that urge users to run faster during a workout (Zombies, Run!). Augmented reality experiences are also offered by stores to help shoppers make decisions on products. Beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora offer virtual try-on experiences so shoppers can preview makeup hues. IKEA lets shoppers preview items in their home. Even car shopping can be aided by augmented reality experiences. RelayCars offers an augmented reality car showroom. This lets users actually drop a vehicle of their choice into their own environment. Check out a car in the living room, the garage or even next to the swimming pool! The augmented reality showroom allows users to look inside the vehicle and even swap out paint colors. ARE AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES THE FUTURE? Snap may release the fourth generation of its Spectacles soon. Could this mean the beginning of an augmented reality eyewear trend? Apple has expressed interest in augmented reality, and many have speculated that augmented reality Apple glasses could be a future offering. However, Apple has never confirmed. Augmented reality could take off in the future. Glasses could create immersive experiences for consumers, and maybe these glasses sync to augmented reality apps. Perhaps instead of accessing a phone’s camera, users could wear augmented reality glasses and experience apps more directly. Imagine wearing augmented reality glasses and suddenly seeing Pokemon in front of you! Or perhaps augmented reality glasses of the future show daily calendars or other personal data. Who knows how these futuristic glasses could look or what they might include in their features. For high-tech glasses or any device to go mainstream, though, the price would likely need to be right. Smartphones were once out of reach financially for many, but now they have become the norm. As they have taken over standard phones, the price also might have dropped…or more affordable models might have been introduced. If augmented reality becomes the favored immersive technology, maybe companies offer different models of glasses at various price points. For now, though, true augmented reality glasses are not offered by most tech companies. And while expensive models of these glasses may be available to the general public, some models are geared towards enterprise use…or towards creators. In the near future, though, consumers may have various options for smart glasses. Facebook x Ray-Ban remains a mystery, but it’s features could be interesting. Consumers can look towards the future for potential new launches of augmented reality eyewear. Again, there has been much speculation about Apple and augmented reality. For now consumers can continue to enjoy the array of augmented reality experiences accessible from their everyday devices. Augmented reality apps and games allow users to enjoy this technology on a budget…and many of these apps and experiences are even free. Until augmented reality glasses go mainstream (and decrease in cost), consumers can download games like Pokemon GO, using their cameras to show the reality world and watching as cute little characters are augmented in the reality. Those looking to embrace fitness can try to outrun zombies within an augmented reality zombie apocalypse. Android users may have even more augmented reality experiences to explore. Google’s Floom lets users draw a portal that shows them what’s on the other side of the globe. Portals can be drawn at different angles, letting the same user in the same place access the sights of different areas of the world. Another Google augmented reality experience helps users safely socially distance. And a future experience will infuse augmented reality into the photo stream. While augmented reality glasses can give consumers a unique look at this technology, there are so many ways to explore augmented reality. Some consumers may have the budget to invest in these high-tech glasses, but, for those on a tighter budget, apps and online experiences can help everyone explore an augmented reality. Those who are a bit hesitant to try new types of technology can try out augmented reality while shopping online. Some stores offer virtual try-on experiences. Again, even shopping for a car can become an augmented experience…so go ahead and drop that Jeep into your living room!

How to Make Money in the Gig Economy

How to Make Money in the Gig Economy

May 31, 2021

A little extra cash each month might help in paying off bills or simply having more money to allocate for weekly grocery runs—especially as inflation has hit food prices! Some individuals might not be in the market for a second job. Instead they might just want a “side hustle” in the gig economy to score and add to their monthly financial bottom line. But what is the ‘gig economy?’ This term applies to non-employee type jobs where workers are independent contractors, freelancers, etc. Want to know how to make money in the gig economy? Here is a list of options to consider. IS THE GIG ECONOMY THE RIGHT CHOICE? A side hustle job might not be a perfect fit for everyone. Those who want a consistent amount of money each month might not like the variance of the gig. And being a contractor means taking control of finances, including paying taxes. While employees have taxes taken out of each paycheck, gig workers are typically labeled as non-employees and, therefore, need to track their income and pay any applicable taxes (state, federal, local, etc.). Before jumping into the gig economy, individuals might want to talk to an accountant to find out their tax responsibilities (e.g. paying taxes quarterly) or any other responsibilities that go along with gig independence. Understanding these responsibilities also may help individuals determine if ‘gigging’ is the right choice. DRIVE FOR MORE MONEY: ALL ABOUT UBER & LYFT Signing on as a rideshare driver for companies like Uber and Lyft is a very popular gig. Obviously, a car is required for this gig. However, both Uber and Lyft let drivers rent a car through their service. Uber notes that its rentals also include insurance and maintenance, too. How much drivers earn via rideshare driving could depend on a lot of factors. Location could impact income, and how much time drivers spend as a rideshare driver obviously would play a part, too. Reputation also matters. How well a driver treats passengers, the cleanliness of the car and other aspects of the drive could impact ratings. Great ratings could lead to more customers. Tips also add to income. Drivers also may deal with more wear on their vehicles. This could lead to more tire expenses, mechanical repairs, etc. However, Lyft notes on its site that “We’re expanding Lyft Driver Centers, Lyft Mobile Service, and our Openbay partnership to lower the costs of vehicle service.” Before settling on a gig, individuals might wish to research all their different options. Find out what each opportunity entails, and know about any liabilities, too. For example, rideshare insurance options apply to rideshare drivers. Investopedia has a list of all the available rideshare insurance plans for drivers who want to embark on this gig. Before driving for any company, make sure insurance needs are covered. Investopedia also notes that personal insurance won’t cover drivers on-the-job. DELIVER DOOR-TO-DOOR Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and other companies use gig workers to deliver food, packages, groceries, etc. to customers. Individuals interested in delivering can check out different companies to find the best opportunity for their needs. In addition, drivers can work for multiple companies. So you may be able to drive for Grubhub and Doordash, too. Again, though, tips and other income need to be tracked! BE A STUDY PARTICIPANT Yes, different surveys and studies can help individuals earn extra income. UserTesting pays individuals to participate in product tests. Individuals have to answer questions to determine if they are a fit for a particular test. Pay is $10 per test (the company notes that it takes 20 minutes). However, live interviews are paid at a higher rate ($30 to $120). There are also several other companies that pay individuals to test. The Balance provides a list of opportunities! How to Make Money in the Gig Economy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/shutterstock_365609573.jpg] RENT YOUR HOME OR CAR A home or car can become the ticket to extra income. Those who have a home or car to spare might just use them for a side hustle. Airbnb lets individuals rent out their homes for others on vacation, holiday or just need a place to crash. Neighbor is a little more unique in that homeowners can actually rent out their garage, driveways or other spaces. However, before signing up on Airbnb, homeowners should research any laws in their area or mandates from their homeowners association (HOA) that could prohibit their home from being used as a rental. The same recommendation applies to renting out spaces like driveways. For example, some HOA’s forbid pickup trucks or other vehicles. Turo is a car sharing company that allows vehicle owners to use their car as a rental. Others can access the car for their needs. In return, car owners are paid for the use of their car. Visit Turo’s site to learn about listing a car. How much can individuals make via Turo? According to the company’s site, those who list one car can potentially earn about $10,516 a year. This is noted as the yearly average. However, remember that earnings may vary based on different factors. FREELANCE THOSE TALENTS Writers and other freelancers can make money on their talents, too. There are several freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork where freelancers can sign up to earn extra cash.  Visit the sites to learn more about how to sign up and find gigs! Of course, freelancers also can visit job boards online to find other opportunities. Freelance writers, for example, can find gigs via the site Freelance Writing Gigs, which posts new opportunities daily. Just remember to track all income for tax reporting! All the Other Odd Jobs Not a writer, editor or creative? Don’t want to take on driving gigs or rent out a home or vehicle? There are many more jobs out there for gig work! For those ‘odd’ jobs that don’t fit into the above categories, check out TaskRabbit. On TaskRabbit, interested individuals can tackle deliveries or even errands. Projects can include cleaning gigs, assembling furniture, hanging a mirror and more! Find the jobs that fit a particular talent or interest! TRANSCRIBE FOR MONEY Want to work from home? Transcribing as a side gig could be an option. Individuals who are bilingual or speak multiple languages could sign up for Gengo to translate content for businesses. Per Gengo, translators earn $417 per month (on average). Translators also can choose their gigs. Freelancers also can sign up for Rev transcribing content. Like Gengo, Rev lets freelancers choose their gigs. Pay is weekly and via PayPal. Rev’s site notes that pay is between $0.30 to $1.10 per audio/video minute. There are so many opportunities for individuals to make extra money in the gig economy. However, the best gig is the one that meets the individual’s needs and can accommodate their schedule. Gigs are usually side jobs; sometimes these freelance gigs are in addition to full-time employment to supplement income and other times the gig is the only gig. Before signing up for an opportunity, research any requirements and understand other obligations, too (like insurance needs, extra maintenance costs, etc.). Make sure the gig doesn’t conflict with HOA policies or the policies of a current employer, too! And, of course, track all that income (including tips) and understand all tax responsibilities as a freelancer/gig worker! [https://contentgm.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/content_uploads/App%5CDynamicModules%5CItem/47200/gig-economy-RELAY-CARS.png]

What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality

What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality

May 31, 2021

When it comes to Augmented Reality, many individuals utilize this technology through mobile apps — which are not necessarily needed when it comes to all AR projects. Obviously, app integration is extremely important and, as noted, the primary way that people use AR.  However, the emergence of WebAR has enabled users to deploy AR content without having to download an app. Smartphones have varying amounts of storage that will only allow a phone to keep a limited amount of applications — eventually, after downloading enough apps, taking enough videos and pictures, and saving enough of our favorite songs, we have to pick and choose which apps we download onto our phone. There’s also the added issue that users might not want to allow a business or organization to have access to their phone and personal information, in which scenarios WebAR (web-based augmented reality) truly shines. EVERYONE HAS AN APP If you’ve been thinking that you might have too many apps on your phone, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re annoyed at your dry cleaning place because they just made you download an app in order to get those nice dress clothes freshly pressed.  As of mid-2020 there were nearly 3 million apps available for users to download — and this was only in the Google Play store for Android users. There are also over 4 million apps in the Apple Store It’s important to note that 90% of the time that users are on the internet is spent using one app or another, but does that mean that apps are awesome or that people often don’t have a choice? Take LinkedIn, for example. They try to get their users to download their app. If you’re using the desktop/web version on your phone, you will likely not be able to take advantage of certain features available on the app itself, and you’ll always have to decline their offer to download their app. It’s annoying, to be certain. Users might not want that sort of access to LinkedIn. Many users might be saying to themselves “Can I just access this when I’m on the computer like a normal person?” In such instances WebAR is extremely useful and a testament to the evolution of augmented reality as a whole. What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/More-on-Augmented-Reality.jpg] MORE ON AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented Reality (not to be confused with Virtual Reality) aims to allow the user to see their real life environment while digital elements are overlaid on it that they can manipulate and interact with. Remember Pokemon Go? That game is actually the most popular and widely known example of AR technology. Players were able to bring their Pokemon experience into their real lives. Players could locate and capture Pokemon characters that would “surface” in cities, towns, rural areas, even in bathrooms! Sure, AR technology is being used by the video game industry to amazing results. But AR is also being used by just about every other industry under the sun. The medical industry, for example, has utilized AR technology to help explore and provide visual representation of what is going on inside of the body. Surgeons and medical students use AR to help them provide better procedures and treatments to patients. Marketers and brands are using AR technology in order to help consumers view and interact with potential products from the comfort of their home. Online gambling sites are developing ways to create an at-home Vegas-style experience with VR and AR. WEBAR: THE NEXT LOGICAL PROGRESSION At its core, WebAR ends up performing in the same exact way as app-based augmented reality. WebAR provides an immersive experience through blending the virtual world with the physical world — the only difference is in how content is accessed by the user. In lieu of an app, users can use AR through a special web page.  It’s important to note that WebAR will require a user to get to a uniquely specific web page in order to engage with the technology. Companies have to invest significantly in creating a user-friendly experience and maintaining a healthy website. What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/WebAR-Benefits-and-Applications.jpg] WEBAR BENEFITS AND APPLICATIONS Users can access WebAR content by scanning a QR code using a smartphone camera. By pointing your device camera to the QR code you will get direct access to an applicable AR experience.  Advertisers are particularly interested in WebAR due to the fact that brands can custom-tailor campaigns around WebAR content — paid advertising can reach preferred audiences and even extend beyond their normal following through social media. Users can click a link and be taken directly to an AR experience rather than having to take the time to download an app in order to engage with the content. WebAR also allows users to provide call to actions on existing websites in order to redirect to WebAR content. Organizations can create a new web page or easily integrate WebAR into an already existing site. On the user side, WebAR content users can easily type in a web address by hand in order to gain access to content. It’s important to make sure that domain names are simple and easily-remembered, so users can simply type it into their browser. WebAR content is accomplished via: * Real World Tracking * Face Tracking * Image Tracking What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/WebAR-is-Significant.jpg] Smartphone cameras can now digitize an environment so that virtual content can be layered over that. Face tracking enables users to more closely engage with brands, not to mention gives AR technology the opportunity to recognize facial expressions in order to create a variety of prompts. Image tracking allows automation to come into the mix, helping users choose certain reference points (like signs, billboards, logos, etc.) that will automatically initiate a WebAR experience. For instance, a cereal box might provide a QR code where users can scan over the box with their phone and the brand mascot can interact with them as they enjoy breakfast. WHY WEBAR IS SIGNIFICANT As noted above, limitations of app-based AR is that there is only a limited amount of space on any given phone. Phones also experience choppy download speeds while running on data, which can seriously compromise a virtual experience.  WebAR makes it easy to simply tap-and-go, giving brands the opportunity to not only give more options to consumers but to also be an integral part in introducing this amazing technology to first-time users.  Oh yeah, there’s also the additional benefits that web pages have the ability to provide analytics. Sure, certain apps might be able to provide analytics, but WebAR sets itself apart by gathering specific pieces of data, not to mention providing analytics about how users interact with a specific AR experience. WebAR is easily integrated with all of the traditional metrics — ways of measuring engagement like clicks, time spent on a specific page, and even deep-dive insights narrowing all the way down to how long a specific user actually used the WebAR content/experience. Did we mention that building an app is expensive, too? If your business or organization doesn’t have a need for an app, WebAR is an excellent opportunity to stay on the cutting edge while avoiding spending revenue on app development, not to mention saving time that would surely be spent on managing problems and issues that will ultimately arise, especially during initial rollout. WEBAR LIMITATIONS Although it might be true that the best AR experiences might happen within an app (where there’s more memory to use and therefore more complex graphics/animation), WebAR is still an affordable and effective alternative to launching a full-scale app-based AR project. Users might have minor gripes about lower resolution when it comes to WebAR content, but brands will be able to get their message across and guide users through their respective sales funnels. As a general rule, brands that incorporate WebAR into their marketing strategies might want to opt to keep projects as simple as possible, that way the user has a seamless experience. WEBAR MOVING FORWARD In conclusion, WebAR represents a super flexible option for brands and businesses to deploy AR technology, which helps provide a new level of education, interaction, and engagement. What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/WebAR-Moving-Forward.jpg] WebAR still offers a wide variety of customization options as well as easy integration — it can easily be added to existing toolboxes as a result. AR technology will continue to evolve, ultimately aiming to incorporate all of the senses in order to craft a truly immersive and convincing virtual experience. More and more complex procedures will be incorporated into a users at-home and online experience, which is especially beneficial to those who are on the go or trying to limit foot traffic. It will be incredibly interesting to see what realms WebAR technology and AR technology as a whole extend into as the future and the technology itself progresses.