7 Amazing Ways Marketing Reality was Augmented
Augmented reality is quickly becoming a “daily use” technology, especially as more comfortable and wearable devices hit the market. Affordable glasses or contact lenses could make what is now a novelty tech become as common as the smartphone. Just because it is still in the developing phase, doesn’t make this tech any less interesting to marketing firms. There has already been a significant increase in the use of augmented reality in games and the workplace. This market is an expanding one, and that makes it important for companies to include in their marketing. Augmented reality also has some significant usage statistics: * It can hold the attention of users * Interaction is increased (over other media forms) * Sales or conversion rates increase (likely due to the realistic experience and engagement) Right now, it has the ‘cool’ factor of being a fun and novelty technology that can create some impressive visuals and interactions. As technology develops, it is possible that conversion rates could reduce. For those already experienced in augmented reality marketing, this will mean needing to develop more unique ways of adapting this tech to attention-grabbing marketing campaigns. So, let’s take a look at some examples of how this can be done. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-114.jpeg] WEATHER – MAKING BORING ATTRACTIVE For some time, weather forecasters have used the green screen to try and add some interesting elements to their forecasts. However, mostly these have remained fairly dull. Augmented reality through a system called Max Reality makes the forecast far more interesting. It also adds an element of freedom, meaning that the reporter doesn’t need to be in a studio and can instead be at a different location for each report. It can add augmented reality elements, including clouds, 3D looking displays, or even instantaneously surround the presenter with flood water to give a clear view of how high water levels will be. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-115.jpeg] HOME DECOR Companies are using augmented reality to show potential buyers exactly how things would look in their homes before they buy. In most cases, this is achieved via an augmented reality app. The app allows the customers to see their home via the camera, with augmented changes as they are selected. In this case, they could put a lamp on the dining room table, or a sofa in the corner to see how it would look. It is even possible to test out paint or wallpaper colors before making any ‘real’ changes. This kind of app is fun but also fantastic at increasing conversion rates. This is because doubts are removed, or decisions made clearer, once the customer is able to see what the result will look like before they invest any time or money. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-116.jpeg] CLOTHES AND MAKEUP SALES People generally enjoy looking good. It is a driving force behind fashion and cosmetics. There literally couldn’t be a better way to convince someone to buy, than showing them how good they could look. With makeup and clothes, this is done through special photography apps or smart mirrors. Systems such as Modiface convince users by not only showing how they could look but also by adding additional information. They combine AI for “3D facial micro-feature tracking tracks movements and expressions through 68 non-identifying parameters” and augmented reality to show how new hair colors, makeup, etc. will look in real-time. Clothing companies are also doing similar, with smart mirrors that allow customers to instantly try on numerous styles and without ever needing to change clothes. It is convenience that sells! And, with the latest mixed reality technologies, the systems could even accurately measure clothing sizes. SHOE SALES Clothes and makeup are not the only fashion segments utilizing augmented reality in their marketing. Shoe and sneaker sales is a massive industry. It is also one that is fairly easy (compare to some) to market via augmented reality, Timberland provides its buyers with the simplicity of a virtual fitting room, allowing customers to ‘try on’ many styles instantly. Of course, as they produce a lot more than only shoes, this is a magic mirror style technology, but that can also be used from a phone or tablet. Footlocker, on the other hand, has brought their in-store marketing to life with augmented effects via a Snapchat AR advertisement. It is almost like you are seeing the stars of sports in the same room. AUGMENTED TOURS Visiting famous places is always on people’s bucket lists. While in some cases it’s a dream that will never come true, others just need the extra push to be persuaded to convert their dollars into experiences. Virtual tours are available for all sorts of major attractions, from football stadiums to the most ancient temples. However, these virtual tours often help to increase the desire to visit, leading to more sales. Of course, for those that could never afford the trip, they are also an amazing way to experience places that could otherwise remain forever unseen. CAR SALES – SEE YOUR DREAM Although virtual reality and augmented reality has been used throughout the automobile sector for a while, it is only recently that the front end of sales is starting to strongly adopt this technology. From virtual showrooms to augmented reality apps that put the car in front of your house, the possibilities are almost endless. In many dealerships, the option to view cars virtually is a nice added feature, especially for vehicles that are not in stock or currently on a waiting list. Augmented reality can also help sales staff to upsell easily, as it allows clients to see exactly what the added trim levels or features look like. Overlaid information assists further, by highlighting the key features, even allowing for examples of workings or exploded views of complicated areas (such as the engine). [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-117.jpeg] THEATRES – MAKING DRAMA MORE DRAMATIC This is certainly not a new thing for theatres to be using, as AMC started with interactive posters quite some time ago. Their app not only allowed posters to suddenly deliver previews but also for customers to buy or ‘pre-request’ tickets to the movies that impressed them. Today, the ways that companies are marketing movies with augmented reality is inventive and interesting. From the Justice League Facebook effects to Jumanji experiences via Snapchat, the cinematic experiences are not only becoming more realistic, but more in-depth with added content and features. WHY IS AUGMENTED REALITY MARKETING SO EFFECTIVE? Augmented reality is about as close to being able to ‘create reality’ as it gets. Until there is a time when holographic images can be solid and the world becomes truly virtual, augmented reality is the next best thing. It works so well for marketing because it is both simplistic and ‘real’. Instead of needing to understand lots of technical things, or use controllers, etc., virtual reality simply changes what we see in the real world and grabs our attention by doing so. Mixed reality is also making augmented reality advertising both more interactive and accurate. Objects can appear as the size they would be in that actual environment, and they can interact through touch, motion, or even with other real objects in that scene. It allows customers to try, test, or experience the products they are interested in, without needing to commit to the purchase. As customers can test out things fully before committing, they are also more likely to be satisfied with whatever they do decide to buy later. For those without time, or unable to travel as easily, augmented reality also provides convenience. It can often be used on mobile phone devices or special headsets. As most people have a smartphone nowadays, this allows for augmented reality experiences from anywhere and by anyone with a phone. This technology also adds information to otherwise simple or uninteresting scenarios. Business cards and posters can pop with animations or information jumping out of them, and even showroom tours can have car information overlaid on the real world car viewing experience. It truly helps create an informed buyer! CONCLUSION When done in the right way, augmented reality is a great tool for marketing. It is useful for showing off a product, giving a sample experience of a place, or even to test driving a car. It also has good potential for the campaign to go viral. When done in a clever way, such as the advert for Shadowhunters above, it surprises people and makes them laugh. It truly can take your marketing audience out of their automated comfort zones and sit up to pay attention to what your campaign has to say.
An Overview and the Future of the Augmented & Virtual Reality Eyeglass Market
Virtual reality and augmented reality have been downloaded into our lives and are now wired into our automobiles, apps, shopping experiences, and the games we play for fun. While virtual or augmented reality is even featured in modern hearable technology, glasses and headpieces have been the ubiquitous gateway to the virtual realm. The problem? Their bulkiness was more space-age awkward than out-of-this-world chic. Now, though, major players in the tech sector are upgrading basic eyewear with virtual features, and the future of the augmented and virtual reality eyeglass market illustrates how this technology will change the way we see the world. According to Forbes Business Insights, the augmented reality market is projected to swell to more than $65 billion by 2027. While the augmented reality glasses sector hasn’t necessarily dominated the market, this sector is expected to grow exponentially by 2027—with reports predicting 31 million units by 2027. Currently, the options for augmented reality glasses (vs. more basic ‘smart glasses’) are a bit limited for the average consumer. The future for this sector, though, is promising, and major players in the tech industry may be eyeing their options for smart eyewear and other types of eyeglasses that incorporate virtual reality or augmented reality. Here’s an overview of augmented and virtual reality in this market, a glimpse back at the past of virtual and augmented reality eyewear, and an eye on the future, too. AMAZON ECHO FRAMES Leading the tech pack, industry giant Amazon released its own smart glasses and introduced the world to its Echo Frames. These glasses don’t feature augmented reality elements in the sense that wearing them takes the user into any type of augmented or mixed reality world, but the frames are a game changer because of their Alexa compatibility. Echo Frames communicate with Alexa, and all the gadgets the virtual assistant may control within the home. Wearing the frames gives the user the power to command Alexa to send messages, make phone calls, or even perhaps brew the coffee. According to Amazon, the frames also only work for the specific user’s voice. This feature, Amazon notes, ensures privacy. It could also possibly deter thieves, as voice control—theoretically—wouldn’t allow another individual to take control of the glasses. RAY-BAN X FACEBOOK? Facebook announced that it would release its own pair of smart glasses in 2021, and the company’s new product “will have Ray-Ban branding.” No details about the capabilities were announced, but Tech Crunch noted that the glasses might not have full augmented reality features. The Verge reported that the glasses “…will not have an integrated display of any kind.” However, numerous sites—including The Verge—reported that Facebook may have eyes on a true augmented reality pair of glasses in the future. VUZIX BLADE Vuzix, however, offers a true pair of augmented reality glasses. The glasses feature capabilities that mix multiple tech elements into chic frames. Blade includes a camera, speakers as well as voice control. Augmented reality features for these glasses include the incorporation of digital instructions over daily tasks. Tom’s Guide reviewed the glasses and explained more about the tech features; users can see notifications from social media and read comments via their glasses, they can also view the weather forecast, receive messages from their phone, play a game and read lyrics to songs. EPSON MOVERIO Moverio glasses look more sleek, contemporary, and futuristic than the Blade. Think Max Headroom! However, the Moverio glasses are offered in numerous models; there is a model aimed at augmented reality developers (it is geared for pros creating AR apps for eyewear), another for flying a drone, one model is extra durable for industrial sectors, a model that heightens “visitor experiences,” and several other designs. With all the options, what type of Moverio is designed for the everyday user? Tom’s Guide discussed several augmented reality glasses on the market including the Moverio BT-30C, which, the Guide explains, allows users to view videos via a virtual screen that appears before the eyes. Moverio’s site describes this model as featuring a “Wearable display” that plugs into smartphones and tech devices via a USB. BOSE ALTO Sound and vision merge with Bose Alto. These smart glasses incorporate the clear Bose sound quality with…well…sunglasses. While not true augmented reality, the glasses are capable of streaming music and allowing users to take calls and communicate with virtual assistants like Siri. These are the glasses to wear on the beach and chill out while listening to favorite tunes, but users shouldn’t expect advanced capabilities like pulling up visions of weather forecasts. SPECTACLES BY SNAPCHAT Facebook may have augmented reality in its future, but Snapchat Spectacles combined vision with visionary. Spectacles are exactly what many Snap users would want in app compatible eyewear. These glasses include dual cameras that are perfect for capturing 3D ‘snaps’ and videos, too. Videos taken via these glasses also can be shared to YouTube VR. As these glasses were created by Snapchat, it would make sense that the app also offers 3D effects for images snapped with the glasses. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-111.jpeg] SPORTS-ENHANCING AUGMENTED REALITY EYEWEAR While augmented reality and smart glasses are often marketed to the typical consumer, there are companies that have developed eyewear specifically for sports and competitive athletes. Augmented reality has the capability to revolutionize training and to enhance an athlete’s competitive edge. Check out these glasses designed for swimmers, cyclists, and runners. VUZIX SMART SWIM® Smart goggles for swimmers don’t yet offer the option to project a virtual competitor in the next lane of the pool, but Vuzix has designed technology made for goggles that provide data and feedback for competitive swimmers. The Smart Swim® device (for the pool) connects the coach to the swimmer, shows times for each lap, records workouts, and more; the device also is offered for open water, and, according to the company’s site, this model includes info on pace, yardage, distance as well as other data. EVERYSIGHT RAPTOR These augmented reality glasses are designed specifically for cyclists. The Raptor allows cyclists to snap photos and videos, receive emails/texts and listen to music. According to the company’s web site, the Raptor also provides navigation (including maps) and also offers training programs. Raptor features Everysight BEAM™ technology, an augmented reality projection display. SOLOS WEARABLES Wearables provide data for cyclists in front of their eyes. Solos Wearables include run time, direction, heart rate, speed and power data. The glasses ensure that the race is never interrupted, with data available at all times. While Wearables were designed with cyclists in mind, they also can be used for runners too. Yes, these glasses also display missed phone calls! GHOST PACER Designed by two high school students, Ghost Pacer is the ultimate in virtual and augmented reality for runners. The glasses display a virtual running partner that can be set to outpace the user or maintain the runner’s own speed. Data can be sent to Strava and users also can race friends by utilizing run data from Strava. If a friend ran 13 miles in two hours, users can program this data into Ghost Pacer to create a virtual competitor whose speed is set utilizing these stats. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-112.jpeg] LOOKING BACK AT THE PAST: VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY EYEWEAR RELICS While the choices of augmented reality eyewear products for the average consumer are somewhat limited, the selection was even more limited in past decades when this technology was just taking off in the consumer market. When we visualize virtual reality eyewear, we usually think of big bulky headsets. These massive headpieces were once the norm when users wished to enter the virtual world. Large headsets were used to project training simulations in various industries—like aviation—but headsets also were standard in virtual reality games. The earliest types of virtual reality date back to large panoramic paintings that depicted a full view of a particular scene. Generations later, consumers (including children) enjoyed a very humble version of virtual reality—the View-Master. These handheld devices allowed users to view images that seemingly came to life. A small disc contained numerous images that were changed as the user clicked a switch on the side of the device. Image discs could include popular cartoon characters or even animals. As the user clicked, the action appeared before their eyes. In the early ‘90s, game giant Sega introduced its virtual reality glasses. While this could have been the early introduction that gamers needed to really latch onto the virtual reality concept, these glasses unfortunately never hit the market. In 1995, Nintendo released a console with a virtual concept. Virtual Boy had a bit of a confusing name, as Nintendo’s Gameboy was the well-known handheld console. Virtual Boy wasn’t handheld, instead it was set atop a movable stand. Graphics were 3D and images were viewed by looking into the console; at the time, 3D graphics for a gaming console were a big deal. The console was sold at stores for $180, but the concept didn’t catch on with the public. Many years after the simple View-Master and the missed opportunities by Sega and Nintendo, Google Glass represented one of the better known mainstream attempts at augmented/virtual reality eyewear. Unfortunately, the design wasn’t incredibly streamlined and there were reported issues of privacy concerns—in fact Investopedia reported that bars sometimes banned the devices (which featured a camera). The insanely high sticker price also didn’t help sales or popularity. The Oculus Rift, which was launched in 2012, is still popular for its virtual reality headset design. However, you won’t find the average person wandering around town donning a Rift. These headsets plug into PCs and are popular among gamers…and perhaps even designers, too. The Rift is meant to transport users to the virtual realm, and its design—while streamlined—is still the traditional headset. The evolving concept of virtual reality headsets also has peered into design processes within various business sectors, including the automotive industry. Microsoft’s Hololens is a mixed reality headset that is used by businesses across many industries. Notably, Volvo partnered with Microsoft to use Hololens during the design process and became the first automotive company to utilize this technology in its “engineering toolkit.” During the Covid lockdowns, Ford’s executives also used virtual reality to preview design concepts. And, while the headsets remain a bit traditional in design, the graphics displayed within those headsets have transformed from pixelated obscurity to become a concise and precise replica of reality. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-113.jpeg] AN EYE ON FUTURE DESIGNS Smart eyewear and eyeglasses that incorporate virtual and augmented reality will likely become more commonplace. As new designs are introduced, the technology they offer also will become more diverse. While smartglasses incorporate virtual assistants, it is quite possible that newer glasses that feature virtual reality could take the virtual assistant into our eye line. Siri, Alexa, and Cortana don’t have a visual identity. But, in the future, they could appear to us as holograms. Maybe the user—the wearer of smart glasses—gets to control how these assistants appear. They could look like the user, a friend, a celebrity, or maybe future offerings will allow the user to design the image from a menu of options. Build your own virtual assistant! Industry leaders are not likely to give away their designs and ideas for future offerings. So what virtual or augmented reality features are included in new smart glasses are in the hands of designers and programmers. Visualizing messages, weather, and even maps, though, may be obvious augmented reality features. Looking at current eyewear products that feature augmented reality elements may be a predictor of what the future holds for newer products designed for the average consumer. However, each company may have its unique take on product design. Major players in the industry also would (hopefully!) want to ensure that a new offering would be compatible with other company products. For example, the Apple Watch typically can pair with many iPhone models. Consumer demand also may play a role in the design and functions of augmented reality eyewear. If the average person cannot understand how a product will benefit them or their lives, they likely won’t be willing to invest money into making a purchase. Glasses may need to enhance everyday tasks, simplify the mundane, and enrich the tech experience. And, of course, privacy issues cannot be an issue. Users likely don’t want to worry that the camera is watching them, that their data is being shared, or that their every move is being tracked. Businesses also probably wouldn’t be thrilled about having customers wearing cameras attached to their eyewear. Moving forward and peeking into the future of virtual and augmented reality eyewear, companies need to be cognizant of what didn’t land in the past. Gimmicks and fads also don’t always translate to sustainable sales; the future offerings need to help users simplify their lives, help guide their daily tasks, and enhance and enrich the tech experience. The most successful products also will likely sync to social media; Snapchat’s glasses, for example, helped enhance the user experience via the app. Perhaps this type of functionality needs to be inclusive of all future eyewear that boasts augmented capabilities. Augmented reality eyewear could transport users into social media sites, transforming the two-dimensional realm into a face-to-face experience. Perhaps these glasses could allow users to interact virtually via glasses. Maybe a post can turn into a real conversation. Perhaps a like becomes a real-life thumbs-up instead of an icon. The future of smart and augmented reality eyewear designs might be blurred in mystery, but the vision is clear and perhaps even…rose-tinted.
AR Brings Futuristic Holographic Display Tech To Our Real-life Vehicles
Hollywood has definitely played up our fantasy for futuristic cars that do it all. From Star Wars to Iron Man, the Hollywood version of automobiles in the future rely heavily on tons and tons of advanced augmented and virtual reality features such as holographic display tech. Those fantasies might not be too far fetched after all. Many major automotive companies are looking for ways to bring augmented reality (AR) dreams into real-life vehicles. They are reaching out to tech and startup tech companies to incorporate their innovative technology into commercial vehicles. It seems that the big hope in the industry is to create fleets of fully autonomous vehicles. There are some major automotive players like Ford and Tesla already piloting and using autonomous vehicles; however, many of them are still not producing them in a way that is available for mass production and consumption. While the dream of fully autonomous vehicles is still years away, companies are looking to use AR to enhance the driving experience for consumers. One way, AR is making actual progress in vehicles is through holographic display tech in the form of heads up displays. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-108.jpeg] EARLY HEADS-UP DISPLAYS TO HOLOGRAPHIC DISPLAY TECH Heads up displays are often depicted as extremely advanced technology and features in futuristic movies. However, the heads-up display (HUD) is not necessarily new or innovative. Heads-up displays were first created in World War II to help fighter and bomber pilots to focus on looking at the horizon rather than being distracted from looking at maps while in the cockpit. The technology and features that were created to help these war-time pilots we would now consider the heads-up display. These planes had not necessarily new technology incorporated, but actually used technology and adapted it to their vehicles. The true beginnings of the heads-up display as we know it now comes from these adapted fighter planes. Using radar technology, these specialty planes were equipped with a piece of glass right in front of the pilot that displayed the radar information used to identify targets, including an artificial horizon. However, these displays were not commonly used during the war and were reserved for specialized night flyers. POSTWAR ADVANCES Postwar engineers continued to improve and develop this technology for future military aircrafts as well as the commercial aircraft market. However, this development in technology also began to be adapted to automobiles as well. Automakers after the war, many of whom were veterans themselves, began incorporating this early version of a HUD into cars. In the 1960s, General Motors were among the first to develop sketches and drafts of a vehicle with a HUD. However, the actual implementation of a functioning HUD in a commercial car would not come until the 1980s. GENERAL MOTOR’S BREAKTHROUGH IN 1988 General Motors’ Fifty 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertibles featured a heads-up display that projected a digital speedometer and turn-signal indicators on the windshield for the driver. This advancement from GM was made possible through their acquisition of Hughes Aircraft in 1985, which allowed them access to technology that aircrafts were using and adapted them to their commercial vehicles. TODAY’S HEADS UP DISPLAYS Today, heads-up displays are commonplace among luxury vehicles and have come a long way from its original aircraft usage. Many vehicles that have a head-up display can project important driving information like its predecessors such as a speedometer and turn-signal indicators. However, many advancements to the display features have been created such as GPS-guided turn-by-turn directions, blindspot indicators, and even what song is currently playing. While current HUDs have much more information available and advancements, they still have limitations. For one, they can only display a two-dimensional image layered over the driver’s view on the windshield. Some HUDs might allow you to adjust the placement of the display pane, but, visually, there is not much advancement to the display, that might soon change. The next step in HUDs is holographic display tech. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-109.jpeg] WHAT IS HOLOGRAPHIC DISPLAY TECH? But, what exactly is holographic display tech? Essentially it uses augmented reality to overlay an interactive image in front of the driver and on the windshield. These advanced versions of heads-up displays would project more than just a speedometer and would encompass the entire windshield. It would display much more advanced imagery and information for the driver such as mapping and navigation, hazard warnings, and more. Holographic images can help to create a more realistic look to the images displayed and can provide more information that can help drivers. The goal for all of these tech companies is to create HUDs that go beyond just displaying flat images in front of the driver but creating depth in the projections. Depth would allow for the overlaid images to appear as if they are floating in the real world. Currently, HUDs only display a flat image. With holographic display tech, heads-up displays will be able to follow the exact view in front of the driver and graphics will actually curve with the actual curve of streets and will appear as if the images are part of the actual view of the driver not just laid over the windshield. They would enhance the driver’s view and driving experience to make it safer and more enjoyable, not merely display dashboard information. Today, consumers are looking to fulfill their car fantasies that they’ve seen in films. Many major carmakers are betting that Holographic display tech will bring those fantasies to real-life. Major automakers are making huge investments in tech companies to bring this technology to their commercial cars. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-75.jpeg] COMPANIES INVESTING IN AR VEHICLE FEATURES Envisics is just one of those tech companies that are getting million dollar investments from automakers to create holographic display tech that can bring advanced technology to the everyday driver. Hoping to be pioneers in HUDs, Envisics has been working with several major automakers such as Hyundai, General Motors, and Jaguar to bring holographic display tech to the masses. Envisics is currently working with higher end vehicles on the market to integrate this technology. Their initial work with Jaguar Land Rover is predicted to be available by 2023. They are also in the works with Hyudai to incorporate such technology to work with autonomous vehicles that are aimed for release in 2025. With such major investors and the demand for more augmented reality integration, Envisics has seen their valuation boost to over $250 million. Along with Evisics, other tech companies are getting into the market and collaborating with major automakers to try and be the first to incorporate more advanced HUDs to commercial vehicles. WayRay and Falcon AR are also working to create more advanced HUDs with holographic display tech. WayRay hopes to take it even further and allow for an entire windshield display that can be split for driver and passenger screens. The company is also playing with the idea of allowing advertising opportunities onto their displays much like social media dashboards on smartphones. The future of the automotive industry is clearly relying on augmented reality technology to help boost competition and increase sales. Holographic display tech could be in consumer’s grasp soon and is a way to test the waters for major automakers when it comes to integrating augmented reality into vehicles designed for mass production. But, there are also many other ways AR is being utilized in the industry today and potential for its future usage in the automotive industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-110.jpeg] FUTURE OF AR IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Augmented reality might not necessarily be synonymous with the automotive industry; however, the two industries have found a natural and mutually beneficial relationship. The automotive industry is already using AR in many aspects. From car design to sales, augmented reality has found a lasting role in the industry. Many automakers utilize augmented reality in their design process to allow car designers to create and innovate easily and quickly. AR has become especially useful when it comes to the selling of commercial vehicles. Many dealerships have incorporated the technology to their online selling platforms. Using virtual showrooms, dealerships can incorporate augmented reality into their online buying experience. Potential buyers can browse and view available vehicles. However, this is far from just a normal online buying experience. Virtual reality companies like RelayCars are creating virtual showrooms that are creating a much more immersive and engaging online shopping experience for consumers. Virtual showrooms can allow buyers to view the inside of a vehicle as if they are actually inside the car. This gives buyers a chance to become familiar with a car before even stepping into the dealership. Automakers know that in order to increase sales and meet consumer demand they must innovate and move forward. Using AR and virtual reality, they can bring to life the car fantasies of Hollywood that consumers long for. They are already embracing ways to use advanced technologies to make our vehicle experience more interactive and immersive than ever before. From Envisic’s holographic display tech to RelayCars’ virtual showroom, augmented reality and the auto industry are truly pushing where technology will bring our world in the future.
How Ford is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
Augmentative and virtual reality has long been talked about as the way that will propel the automotive industry into the future. More and more consumers are demanding for more enhanced safety and driving features in their vehicles. The demand for autonomous vehicles such as for ride-sharing services is also increasing. The way to get to this future for automobiles? Augmentative and virtual reality is how automakers are going to make these car fantasies reality. Many automakers are investing billions into tech companies that are hoping to create programs and tools to enhance future vehicles. Ford is one of those automakers that hopes that spending money on tech will help them build a stronger consumer base and put them at the lead in the race for autonomous vehicles. Ford is one of many leading automakers that are embracing augmentative and virtual reality. The automaker is utilizing new advances in technology in almost every aspect of their vehicles. From designing and manufacturing to selling and displaying, Ford is incorporating both augmentative and virtual reality features to help enhance their manufacturing and buying experiences. DESIGNING CARS In order to create a more efficient and streamlined design process, Ford has started using Microsoft’s augmented reality tech, HoloLens which can be used for commercial and industrial applications. For Ford, HoloLens has given their designers and engineers the ability to work together seamlessly to quickly create new car designs. Using holographic goggles, designers can overlay 3-D elements onto a clay model of a vehicle then quickly evaluate and create new car designs. For the most part, the program is only being used to work on details on a vehicle. The overall design of the vehicle is still done through clay modeling and then designers can manipulate, add, and alter detailed designs. They can work simultaneously with engineers to help streamline the process. According to Craig Wetzel, Ford’s manager of design technical operations, the process of designers implementing changes then sending it off to engineers then getting feedback than having to redesign is the main reason designing a new vehicle is such an arduous process. “That takes time, and we find ourselves out of phase there a lot. But placing engineering and design in the same space, a process we call co-creation, streamlines that interaction,” Wetzel says. The process not only becomes more efficient but allows for much more creativity, and according to Wetzel also makes the creating process much more fun for designers and engineers on the team. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-103.jpeg] DISPLAYING / SELLING CARS Ford is not only using augmented and virtual reality in their design process, but they are also implementing advanced technology into the way they display and sell their vehicles. In 2017, Ford demonstrated how augmented reality can be used in a way to help buyers experience the features of a vehicle from a whole new way. “Think of augmented reality as the blending of virtual reality with real life,” says Garett Carr, Ford global auto shows manager. “It’s like having x-ray vision with the power to take people deeper into our product and technology stories- it feels a little like magic.” Ford is betting on that augmented reality magic to help sell their vehicles in an innovative way. Through augmented reality, the cars appear transparent and show all the features hidden beneath the car. Offering viewers a high-tech view of all the inner workings and features of the Ford vehicle. Carr had mentioned that part of the challenges of selling and introducing a new vehicle at an auto show was that consumers were previously only able to view the outside of a car. They had no way to view the actual final parts of the inner workings of a vehicle. However, with the new augmented reality technology has allowed consumers to see anything and everything they want of a vehicle without having to wear headsets or even seeing it physically. Ford also displayed the use of virtual reality by creating a virtual space to display the new features of their vehicles such as the 10-speed automatic transmission on the F-150 and created a wind-tunnel effect over the Ford GT Supercar to exhibit the car’s active aerodynamics. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-104.jpeg] The overall experience allows consumers to get a more interactive and engaging experience when viewing new vehicles without having to test drive them. This helps consumers learn about the new features of a car and also allows Ford to gauge consumer wants and save on vehicle mileage on new models. These same technologies are similar to their virtual showroom where consumers can build and price their potential vehicles. You can get a complete view and pricing of the exact vehicle that you want. While the experience on their retail site might be a paired down version of their auto show display, it still helps consumers view a vehicle inside and out. This can help them make a more definite purchase when they finally do visit a dealership. You can even view how some cars would look in your driveway! Many Ford dealerships are also utilizing virtual reality to enhance their showroom experience online. Using programs such as RelayCars, dealerships can sell and display vehicles using a virtual showroom. Shoppers can view and see all the details of a vehicle before even stepping foot into a dealership. This can help sellers lock in sales right away as the buyer comes in more informed and likely more committed to buying or leasing a vehicle. MAINTENANCE AND TECHNICIANS Ford is also utilizing virtual reality to help with maintenance upkeep in cars and to assist technicians to repair vehicles, especially newer models that require more and more technological programming to repair. In a partnership with automotive supplier Robert Bosch, Ford will provide training for service technicians at dealerships to work on the new Mustang Mach-E electric crossover. This vehicle will include tech that many current technicians might not be trained to work with including a new high-voltage system. Auto repair technicians are starting to need to become computer programmers as well with the amount of software being implemented into vehicles today. However, Ford is working to make auto repair easier and quicker by outfitting their technicians with virtual reality programs that can help them identify problems on a vehicle and repair them quickly. Ford is also implementing them in training programs for technicians. This gives them a chance to see the actual details and understand the components and steps before working on an actual vehicle. Making new Ford technicians even more knowledgeable and experts before even working in the field. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-105.jpeg] IN-VEHICLE FEATURES & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES While much of the augmented and virtual reality that Ford is introducing is relatively new, the automaker has been incorporating this very same technology into their vehicles little by little. Their vehicles include features that many automakers already implement such as rearview cameras to assist with parking, blindspot detection, and more. Eventually, the company hopes to introduce augmented reality to create a windshield dashboard that would help enhance the driving experience. However, Ford is also hoping to get their foot in the game with autonomous vehicles. The automakers have invested $1 billion in a startup tech company, Argo AI to help make autonomous vehicles a reality. Although the company hoped to have an autonomous vehicle service on the road by 2020, they have recently pushed that deadline to 2022. But the company has been testing pilot vehicles and programs in the meantime. As the demand for autonomous vehicles rises, the race to get their vehicles on the road relies solely on perfecting the technology. The most important feature when considering autonomous vehicles using augmentative and virtual reality is safety. A feature that Ford takes seriously and has prioritized in creating their cars. Ford might not be the only major automaker embracing augmentative and virtual reality, but they are certainly using the technology in innovative ways. Their use of the technology will likely have a strong influence in the automotive industry to utilize augmentative and virtual reality more regularly. Many dealerships already are following suit by using virtual showrooms that allow consumers to view more features of a vehicle from the comfort of their own homes. Companies such as RelayCars are helping consumers to view and purchase Ford vehicles before they even go physically to a dealership. A virtual reality showroom can help get consumers to learn more about a vehicle and helps them to make a decision quicker. Augmentative and virtual reality is changing the automotive industry for the better. It allows for more safety features in vehicles and also helps to keep the creating and manufacturing process of vehicles safer as well. Even repair technicians such as Ford’s are utilizing the technology to make their work safer and more streamlined. Although augmentative and virtual reality is still in the early stages of working with automakers, we are likely to see more innovation and influence of this tech in the field for years to come.
The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership
People often associate augmented reality technology with the gaming industry, but the truth is that this technology is used in many other industries as well. Augmented reality has been embraced by businesses in various industries, including healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, and retail. Now, it seems media companies may also be ready to use this technology to enhance the consumer experience and grow their businesses. The New York Times recently announced a multi-year partnership with Facebook to create “augmented reality driven reporting.” The two companies will work together to develop a series of augmented reality filters and effects that will be available to users on Instagram. The goal of this project is to help Instagram users connect with and gain a deeper understanding of The New York Times’ journalism. A HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK The fact that The New York Times and Facebook are working together may come as a surprise to some, given the rocky relationship that the two companies have had over the years. In 2017, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a feature designed to help media companies create fast, interactive stories that could be published directly on the social media website. The New York Times was one of countless other media companies to participate in the launch of this new feature. But it was also one of the first companies to pull out after coming to the conclusion that it was a one-sided deal that did not benefit the publisher. This isn’t the only time that Facebook and The New York Times haven’t seen eye-to-eye. The former CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thompson, lashed out at Facebook in 2018. Thompson criticized Facebook’s policies that characterized certain news stories as political or partisan content. The CEO argued that this policy failed to recognize the difference between politics and reporting on politics, which in his opinion, was harmful to journalism as a whole. Facebook may not have been responsive to these criticisms at the time, but recently, the company has taken a new interest in forging strong relationships with media companies. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company was committed to doing a better job of supporting journalism. This partnership with The New York Times marks a step in the right direction if the company still wants to achieve this goal. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-100.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PROJECT COME TO LIFE? Launching this augmented reality project has truly been a team effort for Facebook and The New York Times. The publisher’s in-house advertising agency, T Brand, has incorporated augmented reality technology into promotional campaigns in the past. But The New York Times did not turn to the T Brand team for assistance with this project. Instead, The New York Times created an Augmented Reality Lab within the company’s research and development unit to bring this project to life. The Augmented Reality Lab is operated by more than a dozen employees of The New York Times. The team at the Augmented Reality Lab are responsible for developing the filters and effects that will be used on Instagram. The filters and effects will be created using Spark AR Studio, which is a platform for developers that is owned and operated by Facebook. The teams from Facebook and The New York Times will collaborate throughout every step of the development process. Facebook will be working closely with the Augmented Reality Lab team to help them understand the best ways to utilize Spark AR Studio technology. In return, the Augmented Reality Lab team will provide Facebook with feedback on what features to add to Spark AR Studio and how to improve the overall user experience. Even though this project is a partnership, The New York Times has made it very clear that its staff will remain in full control of the editorial content featured on Instagram. This means Facebook will not have a hand in creating the content that is paired with these augmented reality effects and filters. Furthermore, The New York Times will have full control over the design of the effects and filters. In addition to allowing The New York Times to use its Spark AR Studio technology, Facebook will also be providing financial support to this project. However, the terms of the agreement have not been made public, so the amount of money that Facebook is investing into this project is unclear. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-101.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP AFFECT THE USER EXPERIENCE? The augmented reality effects and filters developed by The New York Times will create a more exciting and engaging user experience for consumers. The full catalog of augmented reality effects and filters will be available on the @NYTimes Instagram page. To see the complete collection of effects and filters, users will simply need to visit the “effects” tab on the @NYTimes account page. By tapping on an effect or filter, users will be able to read small snippets of information about current events. The small snippets of information will be superimposed over backdrops created using augmented reality technology. For example, a user who visits the @NYTimes Instagram account may see that the first story found on the “effects” tab is related to air pollution. If the user taps on this story, they will be able to read small snippets of information regarding how the levels of air pollution have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These snippets will be superimposed over an augmented reality backdrop that shows polluted air in a major city. In addition to simply viewing the effects and filters in this manner, users can also overlay the effects and filters onto their own images and videos to share with their followers. This gives users the opportunity to create their own unique content using The New York Times’ augmented reality technology. Plus, it is an easy way for users to share information on newsworthy topics with their followers. Neither The New York Times nor Facebook has discussed how many effects and filters will be created as part of this partnership. But The New York Times has revealed that the first group of effects and filters that will be available will be related to air pollution, the California wildfires, and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS PARTNERSHIP? The New York Times could benefit from this partnership with Facebook in a number of ways. First, The New York Times hopes that this will make journalism—and staying on top of current events in general—more exciting and appealing to consumers who otherwise would not be exposed to these topics. Encouraging users to create their own unique content and share it with their followers is a great way to introduce The New York Times to new consumers on Instagram. The publisher also hopes that the augmented reality effects and filters will help consumers connect with news stories in a more meaningful way. The technology has the power to transport consumers to another world and allow them to see what the story is about for themselves. They won’t have to visualize the devastating effects of the California wildfires, for example. Instead, the technology will help them see it with their own eyes in a way that photographs and video footage simply cannot. As a result, these news stories may have more of an impact on users. The partnership also solidifies The New York Times’ position as one of the most innovative companies in the news industry. Throughout the years, The New York Times has experimented with virtual and augmented reality on a smaller scale. But this project sends a clear message to competitors that The New York Times is not afraid to go big or go home when it comes to incorporating new technologies into their marketing strategies. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-102.jpeg] WHY IS THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP IMPORTANT? As previously mentioned, The New York Times has dabbled in the use of augmented reality technology in the past. But this augmented reality partnership with Facebook is noteworthy for three reasons. First, this partnership represents a massive expansion of the use of augmented reality technology in the media industry. Expanding the use of this technology in the media industry could introduce countless consumers to augmented reality for the very first time. This could drive substantial growth in the global augmented reality market in the years ahead. Second, The New York Times only used augmented reality technology on its own website in the past. This project marks the first time that The New York Times will publish content enhanced by augmented reality technology on other websites. By publishing this enhanced content on Instagram, The New York Times could transform the way that social media users consume news stories and other content. Finally, the partnership could help bring the tech industry and publishing industry closer together. If this partnership is successful, other media companies may be more inclined to work with tech companies to incorporate innovative technologies into the products and services offered to consumers. It’s too early to evaluate the success of this project, but The New York Times remains hopeful. In fact, the publisher stated that they hope to be able to create countless other filters for the Instagram platform in the future. But regardless of the outcome, this project is yet another example of how companies are using augmented reality to create a more positive consumer experience and grow their business.
The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership
People often associate augmented reality technology with the gaming industry, but the truth is that this technology is used in many other industries as well. Augmented reality has been embraced by businesses in various industries, including healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, and retail. Now, it seems media companies may also be ready to use this technology to enhance the consumer experience and grow their businesses. The New York Times recently announced a multi-year partnership with Facebook to create “augmented reality driven reporting.” The two companies will work together to develop a series of augmented reality filters and effects that will be available to users on Instagram. The goal of this project is to help Instagram users connect with and gain a deeper understanding of The New York Times’ journalism. A HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK The fact that The New York Times and Facebook are working together may come as a surprise to some, given the rocky relationship that the two companies have had over the years. In 2017, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a feature designed to help media companies create fast, interactive stories that could be published directly on the social media website. The New York Times was one of countless other media companies to participate in the launch of this new feature. But it was also one of the first companies to pull out after coming to the conclusion that it was a one-sided deal that did not benefit the publisher. This isn’t the only time that Facebook and The New York Times haven’t seen eye-to-eye. The former CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thompson, lashed out at Facebook in 2018. Thompson criticized Facebook’s policies that characterized certain news stories as political or partisan content. The CEO argued that this policy failed to recognize the difference between politics and reporting on politics, which in his opinion, was harmful to journalism as a whole. Facebook may not have been responsive to these criticisms at the time, but recently, the company has taken a new interest in forging strong relationships with media companies. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company was committed to doing a better job of supporting journalism. This partnership with The New York Times marks a step in the right direction if the company still wants to achieve this goal. The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-242.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PROJECT COME TO LIFE? Launching this augmented reality project has truly been a team effort for Facebook and The New York Times. The publisher’s in-house advertising agency, T Brand, has incorporated augmented reality technology into promotional campaigns in the past. But The New York Times did not turn to the T Brand team for assistance with this project. Instead, The New York Times created an Augmented Reality Lab within the company’s research and development unit to bring this project to life. The Augmented Reality Lab is operated by more than a dozen employees of The New York Times. The team at the Augmented Reality Lab are responsible for developing the filters and effects that will be used on Instagram. The filters and effects will be created using Spark AR Studio, which is a platform for developers that is owned and operated by Facebook. The teams from Facebook and The New York Times will collaborate throughout every step of the development process. Facebook will be working closely with the Augmented Reality Lab team to help them understand the best ways to utilize Spark AR Studio technology. In return, the Augmented Reality Lab team will provide Facebook with feedback on what features to add to Spark AR Studio and how to improve the overall user experience. Even though this project is a partnership, The New York Times has made it very clear that its staff will remain in full control of the editorial content featured on Instagram. This means Facebook will not have a hand in creating the content that is paired with these augmented reality effects and filters. Furthermore, The New York Times will have full control over the design of the effects and filters. In addition to allowing The New York Times to use its Spark AR Studio technology, Facebook will also be providing financial support to this project. However, the terms of the agreement have not been made public, so the amount of money that Facebook is investing into this project is unclear. The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-243.jpeg] HOW WILL THE AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP AFFECT THE USER EXPERIENCE? The augmented reality effects and filters developed by The New York Times will create a more exciting and engaging user experience for consumers. The full catalog of augmented reality effects and filters will be available on the @NYTimes Instagram page. To see the complete collection of effects and filters, users will simply need to visit the “effects” tab on the @NYTimes account page. By tapping on an effect or filter, users will be able to read small snippets of information about current events. The small snippets of information will be superimposed over backdrops created using augmented reality technology. For example, a user who visits the @NYTimes Instagram account may see that the first story found on the “effects” tab is related to air pollution. If the user taps on this story, they will be able to read small snippets of information regarding how the levels of air pollution have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These snippets will be superimposed over an augmented reality backdrop that shows polluted air in a major city. In addition to simply viewing the effects and filters in this manner, users can also overlay the effects and filters onto their own images and videos to share with their followers. This gives users the opportunity to create their own unique content using The New York Times’ augmented reality technology. Plus, it is an easy way for users to share information on newsworthy topics with their followers. Neither The New York Times nor Facebook has discussed how many effects and filters will be created as part of this partnership. But The New York Times has revealed that the first group of effects and filters that will be available will be related to air pollution, the California wildfires, and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS PARTNERSHIP? The New York Times could benefit from this partnership with Facebook in a number of ways. First, The New York Times hopes that this will make journalism—and staying on top of current events in general—more exciting and appealing to consumers who otherwise would not be exposed to these topics. Encouraging users to create their own unique content and share it with their followers is a great way to introduce The New York Times to new consumers on Instagram. The publisher also hopes that the augmented reality effects and filters will help consumers connect with news stories in a more meaningful way. The technology has the power to transport consumers to another world and allow them to see what the story is about for themselves. They won’t have to visualize the devastating effects of the California wildfires, for example. Instead, the technology will help them see it with their own eyes in a way that photographs and video footage simply cannot. As a result, these news stories may have more of an impact on users. The partnership also solidifies The New York Times’ position as one of the most innovative companies in the news industry. Throughout the years, The New York Times has experimented with virtual and augmented reality on a smaller scale. But this project sends a clear message to competitors that The New York Times is not afraid to go big or go home when it comes to incorporating new technologies into their marketing strategies. The New York Times & Facebook Announce Augmented Reality Driven Partnership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-244.jpeg] WHY IS THE NEW YORK TIMES AND FACEBOOK AUGMENTED REALITY PARTNERSHIP IMPORTANT? As previously mentioned, The New York Times has dabbled in the use of augmented reality technology in the past. But this augmented reality partnership with Facebook is noteworthy for three reasons. First, this partnership represents a massive expansion of the use of augmented reality technology in the media industry. Expanding the use of this technology in the media industry could introduce countless consumers to augmented reality for the very first time. This could drive substantial growth in the global augmented reality market in the years ahead. Second, The New York Times only used augmented reality technology on its own website in the past. This project marks the first time that The New York Times will publish content enhanced by augmented reality technology on other websites. By publishing this enhanced content on Instagram, The New York Times could transform the way that social media users consume news stories and other content. Finally, the partnership could help bring the tech industry and publishing industry closer together. If this partnership is successful, other media companies may be more inclined to work with tech companies to incorporate innovative technologies into the products and services offered to consumers. It’s too early to evaluate the success of this project, but The New York Times remains hopeful. In fact, the publisher stated that they hope to be able to create countless other filters for the Instagram platform in the future. But regardless of the outcome, this project is yet another example of how companies are using augmented reality to create a more positive consumer experience and grow their business.
Apple to Add Augmented Reality Content on TV+ Services
Television and entertainment services battled for years against digital streaming and online service. However, once they started to adjust business models, the concerns reduced and highly profitable systems evolved such as NetFlix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and of course Apple TV Plus. These masters of streaming entertainment have brought all sorts of variations to the public, from simple streaming services to rewindable live TV, and even the latest movies (often without additional costs). [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-95.jpeg] Therefore, it is hardly surprising that in the hunt for something new and different, Apple has decided to venture into an augmented reality entertainment option. Apple already has much of the hardware in place, including headsets and phones with the required technology to allow augmented entertainment to work perfectly. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-96.jpeg] WHY IS APPLE NOW ADDING AUGMENTED REALITY TV? According to the report from Bloomberg, Apple plans to release this augmented content on its streaming service next year. While it is a novelty and possibly highly entertaining addition to Apple TV Plus, the reason for its launch has some other factors behind it. There have been some rumors that Apple is taking a strong interest in augmented content. They have reportedly been adding chips required for such software to work effectively into their popular phone models and tablet lines, and are also working on a single headset that could do virtual reality and augmented reality from one device. The potential of smart augmented reality glasses for 2023 is another exciting factor. The move towards augmented content was delayed by COVID19 originally. However, things are now back in motion and there is a likelihood that it will be released next year. HOW WILL AUGMENTED REALITY TV PLUS CONTENT WORK? Although it is possible that in the future we may be watching entire storylines played out in our living rooms, it is likely to be some time before that is realistic. In the case of Apple TV augmented reality, it is likely to come in the form of additional content or possibly simplified scenes of the show that could be augmented into the real world. This could work as personal interviews with the actors and actresses, directors cut clips or action scenes created specifically for augmented reality entertainment. This ‘fun’ twist on normal TV streaming is likely to have two benefits. Firstly, entertained subscribers remain subscribers for longer. If Apple offers something that other services are unable to yet provide, it could also attract new subscribers from their competition. Secondly, as we mentioned earlier, Apple has been working towards an augmented reality headset. THE VERGE reported late 2019 that Apple is planning their augmented products to be released in 2021-2022 for a full headset and 2023 for augmented reality glasses. While the main headset is likely to resemble current offerings, the glasses are going to be designed for long usage periods. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-97.jpeg] WHAT WILL APPLE’S AUGMENTED REALITY HEADSET OFFER? Apple addicts are excited about Apple heading into augmented reality entertainment. There are likely to be some high-quality and powerful devices coming to the Apple lineup. It is expected that the glasses will be thicker than normal glasses, but that the batteries and chipsets will be constructed into the frames. If this is achievable, it will be a revolutionary step for augmented reality. In theory, as these develop, they could be worn all day and present information or entertainment almost anywhere without needing a cell phone. As the information could be overlaid, if the chipsets can be powerful enough, augmented reality glasses could change how we use digital devices. Mobile devices replaced many aspects of computers, radio, TV, gaming consoles, alarm clocks, calendars, flashlights, and more. Augmented reality through smart-glasses could potentially replace many of today’s objects, such as laptops, monitors, TVs, and more. Users will be able to interact with virtual objects using gestures. Initially, it is likely that the computing power would come from a mobile device, but later could be built into the glasses themselves. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-98.jpeg] One interesting twist is that these smart glasses may come with prescription lenses. This would make the experience for people with eyesight issues more enjoyable and also make the glasses a possible replacement for their normal glasses. Mac Rumours also reported that the headset will likely come with “features like 3D scanning and advanced human detection”. Apple seems to be aiming to create a sleeker and more compact headset than those currently available, but with the power to accurately map out and interpret the real-world. It is also suggested in reports that the ‘headset’ could support both virtual realities and augmented reality, without needing to be connected with cables to a computer or phone. It is unlikely, however, that the computing power will be built into the headset. Instead, there will probably be a designated device that wirelessly streams the information to the headset. The software powering these devices is rOS, which is apparently based on IOS, but with a focus on virtual ‘reality’, hence the ‘r’. It is also likely that users will be able to access and download the software directly from within the headsets. The potential for the company to first really make ‘augmented object usage’ mainstream could be huge. Apple augmented reality experiences are already gaining traction, with diverse ways of learning, viewing, and playing. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-99.jpeg] HOW COULD AUGMENTED ENTERTAINMENT DEVELOP? The future of augmented reality is an interesting topic, as so much is potentially possible to achieve with this technology. At the moment, device sizes and costs are hindering mainstream adoption, but as costs reduce and devices become far more compact, potential uses are endless. For entertainment, we could see: * Gaming – started by Pokemon Go, augmented reality gaming is leaping ahead. Now, entire battles can be played out on the living room floor, or you can run around your area killing zombies. * TV – We mention that it could add ‘extras’, but as things develop it could take 3D to another level or have random ‘surprises’ embedded in normal TV. Imagine, for example, a normal horror movie wherein random parts things suddenly jump out of the screen into your living room. If using virtual reality, you could almost literally experience standing in the middle of amazing scenes. * Escapism & Decoration – augmented reality offers the possibility to change your environment. It could be as simple as changing the wall color, to having your living room appear like an underwater paradise. For relaxation and a change from the norm, this is a flexible and fun solution. * Travel – This is an exciting area. Not only can destinations such as museums be enhanced with augmented effects and information, but the journey anywhere can be fun as well. Drives or flights could offer hours of fun entertainment, instead of simply staring out of the window. * Replacement – as devices become more comfortable to wear, the need for widescreen monitors and TVs could disappear. Augmented reality could replace many of the devices we currently use for entertainment. * Real Inside Virtual – We are already starting to see some activities and games where only selected real-world objects are included, but the environment around them is virtual or could be a virtually enhanced version of the real world. * Fun Education – books, the house, our bodies, and more can be explored and brought to life in fun and educational ways via augmented reality. * Participation – Shows or other entertainment could be brought into the home. Users could participate in events, activities, and challenges … just as they have seen them on TV. Not only would it be fun, but it would also give an insight into what show contestants experience. * Promotions – Although we often don’t like adverts or junk mail, augmented reality promotions could be extremely entertaining and information. * Music – See your favorite singer in your living room in full 3D, or have lyrics instantly displayed to whatever songs you hear. * Sports – virtual and augmented reality can help to bring sports to life. From overlaying information to allowing the viewer to be virtually seated courtside. As technologies develop and ideas expand, this could become more than we can currently imagine. However, what is almost certain is that how we see and interact with the world around us is almost certainly going to be augmented in the future. If Apple has its way, the experience will be through lightweight and wireless glasses, enabling comfortable usage for longer.
How Toyota is Using Augmentative & Virtual Reality
Toyota has long been one of the leaders in the mainstream auto industry, providing models that appeal to a variety of audiences. Now, they’re applying the newest technological trends to enhance their hybrid models like never before. By integrating the car’s computer interface and the driver’s mobile device, Toyota is bridging the gap between human and machine. IMPROVING ONLINE SHOPPING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY In general, car owners are holding on to their vehicles longer than in previous years. The average car buyer spends more than 6 years between purchases, which would seemingly be bad news for car brands. Toyota has discovered a way to entice buyers in an increasingly narrow market. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, online car shopping rose to more than 75% in 2020. In response to this uptick, Toyota has revamped their showroom experience to better accommodate home-based consumers. To improve the process even more, this AR tool will be accessible without needing to download an app or program. Users can instead just click on a social media post or banner ad to experience an immersive demo from their desktop or mobile device. This interactive digital media tool has the potential to change the way car brands advertise to their audience base, as well as the online shopping behaviors of their consumers. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-91.jpeg] 3D DIGITAL MODELING Since COVID-19 has reduced operations for car lots and dealerships, it’s difficult for a potential buyer to get an accurate walk around of their prospective purchase. Augmented reality imaging technology gives mainstream consumers the ability to see the exterior of a virtual floor model in unprecedented detail, without setting foot in a physical showroom. The majority of car shoppers prefer to conduct at least part of the process digitally in 2020, and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions drive more and more consumers online. AR provides each customer with an immersive virtual showroom and realistic test-drive experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-92.jpeg] ENHANCED PERSONALIZATION AND CUSTOMIZATION Traditionally, prospective auto buyers were shoe-horned into whatever generic, canned shopping experience the dealer was able to provide. With AR/VR displays and mobile networking capabilities, every user is able to personalize their shopping experience to their liking. If someone is shopping for a rugged off-roading vehicle they’ll probably be looking for different features than a soccer mom who wants a practical minivan with a low carbon footprint. From the color of the interior to the paint job and horsepower, Toyota is virtualizing the entire car-buying experience. Buyers with different lifestyles and goals are also typically willing to spend more or less time to handle the process. Someone looking for a niche, lifelong investment might require a higher level of customisation compared to someone looking for a baseline commuter car. Using VR/AR and AI to build the customer’s experience as it learns about their behaviors and preferences allows car brands to remove the fluff from their marketing and selling strategies. MIXING REALITY WITH THE DIGITAL WORLD Toyota is one of the leading car brands that is partnering with growing tech innovators to expand their market reach. Using devices created by both Unity and Microsoft, Toyota is providing customers across their diverse customer base with more connectivity and personalization power than ever before. 360-degree imagery, motion-responsive mobile tech, and external noise cancellation are just a few features that make it possible to really imagine yourself in the media you’re consuming. Buyers can virtually park the car in their garage or in front of their house to see how it will look in real life. They can also rotate, zoom, and manipulate the digital 3D image for an even more detailed look. To tap into multiple facets of the augmented reality and virtual reality markets, Toyota is targeting wearable and smartphone users. This means that shoppers have even more options when it comes to interacting with Toyota’s ecommerce platforms, customer service teams, and even social media advertisements. CUTTING COSTS FOR DEALERS Augmented reality and virtual reality are not only improving the ownership experience better for buyers and manufacturers, but dealers are also saving money with this innovative tech development. By extending the browsing, testing, and auto financing processes to the consumer’s home, sellers can reduce operating costs by eliminating the need to keep a vast physical inventory or an in-person showroom. Dealers and sellers can also cut costs by trimming their employee training programs. Replacing in-person labs and classes with virtual reality-hosted training sessions will reduce the amount of money companies need to spend on staffing and operational expenses. A single teacher can conduct a presentation for countless students simultaneously, whereas capacity is limited in a physical classroom. Also, everything from the furniture to the electricity that runs a dealership showroom comes out of the parent company’s budget. Using VR/AR to build a digital environment allows dealers to create all of these elements virtually – at no additional cost. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-93.jpeg] IMPROVING SERVICE AND SUPPORT The automobile sphere is a dynamic industry that’s always changing the way it designs, produces, and distributes new products. Stiff competition and a driving need for tech innovation places a high level of stress on the creators behind the scenes. Toyota is connecting remote and onsite employees more seamlessly than ever before by using augmented reality and virtual reality to improve collaboration. Building a responsive virtual environment for employees to interact digitally has been proven to: * Reduce wait times between approvals * Speed up the project timeline with faster responses between team members * Improve office morale as more and more teams move offsite * Boost communication efforts between remote and in-house staff On part of the consumer, new owners will be able to use AR-integrated apps to learn more about the vehicle. The app accomplishes this by overlaying digital renders of the car’s physical attributes over a virtual 3D model of the vehicle. Buyers can improve their knowledge of their new purchase, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the functionality of their new hybrid or alternative fuel system. This is a great way to understand which parts of the car’s system are running at different points during the drive. Additionally, drivers can view information about the car’s “hotspots” on demand – or key areas like the motor, battery and fuel tank. Having better access to critical performance information makes it easier for owners to meet scheduled maintenance and repair guidelines. Identifying the car’s real-time functions using AR can also prevent minor problems from progressing by going unnoticed. This integration has also improved support rates and customer satisfaction. Reducing lag time between team members gives each employee the ability to address more client requests. ENGAGING MARKETING AND ONLINE PRESENCE DEVELOPMENT The world is moving online, and the automotive market is not exempt from this major market shift. The majority of the country spends at least a few hours per day on social media, which has created a lucrative mass audience for car companies to direct their advertising efforts. Digital media is exponentially less expensive compared to traditional or print marketing methods. Social media cuts costs even more by giving the audience the power to join the conversation. Users that share or comment on your content are just adding more power and visibility to your posts. Not only have car companies embraced digital marketing in recent years, but brands like Toyota are taking that a step further by integrating AR/VR experiences into their social media feeds and advertisements. Car companies have also incorporated augmented reality and virtual reality tech into their marketing directives. Examples include fully immersive situation-driven simulations and test sessions in the form of interactive games. Using AR/VR tech to build brand awareness combines a multitude of sales tactics into one affordable marketing tool. LASER-FOCUSED CONSUMER TARGETING Pay-per-click advertising saw a significant uptick during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, and marketers continue to use this tool to connect with social media users within their target audience. Virtual reality and augmented reality take that function step further by enhancing the immersive quality of every post and ad. Using vision tracking and face-scanning apps, brands can use interactive elements like filters and on-screen masks to entice consumers. Additionally, consumers get more out of ads that are created with them in mind. Ads that incorporate augmented or virtual reality improve the user experience, and draws in customers with a higher likelihood of spending more than 1.5 seconds on the page. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-94.jpeg] STAYING COMPETITIVE IN A CHANGING INDUSTRY The world of consumer products is shifting everyday, and online retailers are dominating nearly every sector of the commercial market. No matter the audience or target demographic, car brands are facing the same challenges as a variety of other industries – incorporating technology is a necessity if you want to stay competitive. Augmented reality and virtual reality systems have already made a significant impact within the gaming, homebuying, and photography industries. Plus, online shopping gives buyers around the world the ability to purchase products from anywhere and not just their local dealerships. Auto manufacturers, dealers, and sellers have applied this growing trend to have an edge against the dozens of other brands around the world. In fact, using AR/VR as a marketing tool has been proven to increase sales for top brands like BMW and TopShop. This technology is only becoming more present in our daily lives, and more consumers will be seeking this is a media staple in the online shopping experience. Like usual, the automotive industry is paving the way in this growing but influential digital realm. Combining augmented/virtual elements with actual reality is giving consumers a way to immerse themselves into the content they’re consuming about this major, milestone purchase. Cars are synonymous with lifestyle in the current marketplace, and AR/VR tech is giving auto brands an effective tool to convey their message to an engaged target audience.
The Future of Hearable Technology
Virtual and augmented reality advancements in our phones, computers, tablets, and even the tech within our vehicles means that our devices are now verbally and visually communicating to us around the clock. The future of hearable technology is as open as the future of technology itself. While many of us view our headphones or earphones as just the little speakers that we can plug into our ears to personalize our auditory experience, these small extensions of our devices have the potential to become…smart. Incredibly smart, actually. New auditory advancements are turning up the volume on what we once considered to be mere accessories to our major devices. Now hearable devices are becoming must-have gadgets independent of phones, tablets or music players. Here are some predictions as to what the future holds for your ears…and even some technology that failed to grab our ear. Listen up! HOW DO YOU USE HEARABLE DEVICES NOW? When we try to comprehend how we will use hearable tomorrow, next year and in the far off future, it’s interesting to look back at how this technology has evolved in our daily lives. Most of us probably conceived of hearable tech as simple headphones or earphones. Maybe a friend or family member utilized hearing aids and that technology became familiar. The evolution of hearable tech has creeped up on us…almost silently, even though we were always listening. Earphones now stream movies. We listen to podcasts. We also use our earphones or headphones to keep teleconferences private. Headsets have integrated microphones that are used for conferencing or even social experiences like gaming. Throughout the decades, sound quality has improved, headphones have become less cumbersome, and technology has advanced. In the ‘80s, we may have listened to our favorite tunes while donning the foam covered earpieces that were ubiquitous to the Walkman. In the new millennium, maybe a new pair of Beats headphones changed the way we heard music. Now, our phones often feature tiny earphones with incredible sound quality. Some of these earpieces are even wireless. But not all hearable tech has revolutionized our lives. Some new discoveries had amazing potential to transform daily life but simply didn’t grab our attention…or our wallets. THE HEARABLE FUTURE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN Back in 2017, Wired reported on Doppler Labs’ eventual demise. Doppler had produced earphones that cancelled out noise, amplified a speaker’s voice and even translated foreign languages for the listener. Its product seemed promising, but it simply didn’t catch on in the way that Apple’s Airpods and other products did with the general public. The features of the earphones, though, showed the potential of this sector of technology. Translating foreign speakers to ease communications may be a solution that many business leaders could demand in future hearable devices. During the worst days of the Covid pandemic, most businesses were working from home. Hearable technology with translations built in could have been a beneficial accessory that reduced the need for translators…or perhaps written on-screen translations. While new tech that features translation capabilities might not be in the very near future, major players in the market are looking to introduce new–and improved–hearable tech. WHAT YOU MIGHT HEAR SOON: HEARABLE TECH OF THE FUTURE The future of hearable tech encompasses the near future…and the far off future, too. While some media can speculate about new products that may hit the market soon, most can only guess as to what the far off future holds for hearable technology. For those looking to upgrade their ears to the latest new headphones or earphones, there are new hearable tech products that will soon be hitting the market. In fact, the anticipation for Apple’s Airpods3 has been bustling on the internet. Unfortunately, no one knows when Apple may release the updated AirPods. And tech experts also can only guess as to what new features they might include. Apple AirPods2 featured wireless charging capabilities and Siri functions, too. A visual concept of the Apple AirPods Studio earphones, however, has apparently leaked, according to techradar. These new headphones will be over-the-ear versus the traditional bud in the ear design. The features have not been disclosed, and details were not provided by Apple but came from a “reputable leaker.” EAR FOR THE FUTURE? A POSSIBLE SMARTPHONE HEARING PIECE This isn’t a hearing aid in an assistive technology definition, but Fast Company reported that major companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are all in the midst of developing their own unique hearing aids that take convenience directly to the ear. However, what these hear pieces will feature is anyone’s best guess. Fast Company posited that they could track oxygen saturation and even count steps—this theory was linked to the fact that all three companies have plans to enter the healthcare sector. Of course, as the article noted, all three of these companies offer ‘virtual assistants’– Google has Google Assistant, Amazon offers Alexa and Apple devices utilize Siri. These virtual assistants have the potential to be intricately intertwined with our daily lives and habits. AMAZON AND ALEXA If Amazon did release some type of hearable technology, the features could be amazing! Imagine if Amazon released a hearable tech that utilizes Alexa. This could mean that the earpiece could pick up commands and the user could interact with Alexa with just a small hearing aid like device. WHAT COULD ALEXA DO WITH A HEARABLE? * Perhaps the user could place orders via Amazon remotely. “Alexa, order my Vitamin C supplement.” * The earpiece could help turn off lights, brew coffee or control anything Alexa-powered. * Alexa, track my order for Dog Food and alert me when it’s on it’s way. APPLE AND SIRI Apple could build smart tech into the airpods so they can connect to Siri and follow through on actions. If Siri is always in your ear, then you can maintain two way communication between your smartphone and Siri. * “Siri, remind me to call my mom,” all of a sudden becomes feasible. * “Siri, create a calendar appointment for my doctor at 3pm tomorrow”. * Maybe the user could surf via Safari and hear the results or use the earpiece to send texts or even teleconference. It’s interesting to think about what these technology giants could introduce into the world…and how new hearing technology could ease our daily interactions. All major tech players–Apple, Amazon, Microsoft (we can’t forget Cortana!) and Google–also could integrate the Internet of Things into earpieces. Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and Alexa could control everything in the house…from the ear! Anything in the home that could connect to these virtual assistants could stream into our ear. Smart appliances utilize these assistants, so imagine sitting in a home office and having Alexa tell you that your oven is preheated. Or that the dishwasher has finished a cycle. No time to take the clothes out of the dryer? Tell the virtual assistant via the earpiece to start the dryer for a fluff cycle. Hearable technology features from tech giants are simply speculative at this point. Until Apple, Amazon or Google make any type of formal announcement, most of us can simply ponder and wonder about what our ears, coupled with voice technology, may control in the future. However, hearable technology developed for individuals with hearing impairments already allows some wearers to control the Internet of Things via the ear! [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-89.jpeg] PREDICTING THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST INDIVIDUALS WITH HEARING IMPAIRMENTS Hearables as used as assistive communication devices have their own unique demands for advancement. As technology becomes more intertwined with our daily lives, those who depend on hearing aids to communicate also need to be able to access their phones and devices in the same way as other users. However, putting a phone receiver—even the smartphone—up to the hearing-aided ear can be cumbersome. Phones not only can accommodate hearing aid devices but many also can allow these devices to connect to features to stream music, movies and everything else directly into the hearing aid. Most devices also can connect to hearing aids via Bluetooth. Some hearing aid manufacturers–including Widex and Phonak–even offer apps that allow users to modify their hearing aids via their phone. The user simply logs into the hearing aid app and can change different settings or even review data (depending on the app’s capabilities and functions). There are numerous hearing aid manufacturers and hearing aid models. Some offer advanced capabilities, others aren’t quite as high tech (especially earlier hearing aid models). Some models even allow users to connect into the Internet of Things via an app (and by utilizing the If This, Then That service); this alerts users that someone is at the door or when the wash cycle has completed! Hearing centers that provide diagnostic services for those with hearing loss also have their own predictions on the future may hold for hearable technology. Connect Hearing talked to several of its own hearing specialists about what the future for hearing aids. Over the years, this technology has advanced tremendously. Hearing aids—in very early times—were once large trumpet-like devices that were placed in the ear. Today’s hearing aids, though, can connect wirelessly to Bluetooth devices and can even be used with smartphones. Jody Progue, an audiologist for Connect Hearing in Denton, Texas, told the company that newer hearing aids may become even more convenient for users, allowing easy access to most devices. “I anticipate we’ll also see more universality, such as hearing aids that connect directly to any device via plug-and-play,” said Progue on the Connect Hearing site. “New hearing aids like the Phonak Audéo B Direct, they are truly hands-free. To answer the phone, all a user needs to do is press a button on the hearing aid and say ‘hello’.” When Connect Hearing asked the experts “What will hearing technology look like in five years?,” the hearing specialists had some almost space age predictions! “Artificial intelligence will be integrated into hearing testing and fittings,” John Cummings, a hearing instrument specialist for Connect Hearing in Baltimore, Md., said on the company’s site. “This will improve the overall product offerings and reduce costs as more of the global population accepts and purchases them. Users will also be able to seamlessly connect with the most cutting-edge fitness products.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-90.jpeg] IMAGINE THE SOUNDS IN THE FAR-OFF FUTURE If the near future could bring us hearable devices that might utilize voice assistants like Siri or Alexa, the far-off future could involve virtual or even other types of augmented reality. Perhaps hearing aids allow us to navigate our self driving cars by connecting into the vehicle. Or maybe the ear devices pick up our instructions and graphically display our commands via holograms or augmented scenes. Could Wikipedia evolve from a simple web site to a holographic interactive virtual realm that takes us into history…via our ear devices? Perhaps our hearable devices contain our personal information or even our financial accounts and our hearable technology will be able to transmit this information securely to other devices to make purchases, appointments or perform other services. The size of hearable tech may change, too. We’ve watched as smartphones have become sleeker in design; while phone screens may constantly increase in size, diminutive hearables may be a major demand for those who want to avoid a clumsy and cumbersome earpiece. Earphones may become incredibly tiny and might even become personalized to the wearer. We may, one day, be fitted with our hearable tech. As technology overtakes our physical reality, our imagination can go wild thinking of all the possibilities. The minds of programmers and engineers, however, may discover and create worlds, ideas and software that will jolt us into a new age, an advanced tech renaissance. Twenty years ago, we couldn’t imagine a cell phone that would allow us to access shopping, banking, movies, music and the internet. Now our smartphones manage everything, and, of course, they make basic phone calls, too. Tonight, tomorrow when you plug in your earphones or headphones, imagine all the new features those phones may offer next year. Or five years from now. In the future, there’s no telling what we might hear. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-6.png]
The Definitive Guide for Using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to Elevate Your Business
Virtual reality and augmented reality technology has evolved exponentially throughout the years. While once projecting a pixelated and graphically obscure translation of a virtual world, the landscapes and backdrops of VR and the components represented in these scenes now appear so real in their replication that the mind can easily adapt to the new virtual space. The graphic quality of today’s VR has enhanced and transformed the gaming experience, delivering detailed and lifelike worlds and new realms filled with artistic renderings of futuristic—or even prehistoric—structures, creatures, characters and settings. Yet, VR and its offerings extend beyond games and entertainment. Stepping into the virtual world projected in VR also benefits businesses; this technology has the potential to amplify the customer experience, better facilitate employee training and perhaps even boost client satisfaction and retention. How can the use of virtual reality benefit businesses? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-84.jpeg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY & THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Utilizing virtual reality to amplify the customer experience doesn’t involve VR headsets or complicated consoles. VR and its uses are multi-modal, and integration of VR isn’t the same across industries. Augmented reality technology includes virtual assistants (like Alexa), interactive exhibits (like in museums), virtual tours (for real estate or the tourism industry), interactive customer service apps and even virtual reality product showrooms (for cars and fashion!). VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS AND AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented reality is ingrained in daily life. Most smartphones now come equipped with a virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa. These interactive assistants also serve as a prototype for a virtual customer service associate. If your business offers an automated customer service line—with an integrated voice-activated assistant—then welcome to the world of automated reality. While many businesses want to embrace a personalized approach to customer service, and, therefore, still utilize real-life human beings to assist customers with any issues, virtual customer service support does provide accessible and more simplistic assistance for time-harried customers. For simple tasks like paying a bill or checking an account balance, virtual assistants can navigate requests easily and quickly by guiding customers with simple prompts and voice-activated virtual menus. This reduces a customer’s wait time and streamlines simple requests and basic account queries. Virtual customer service assistants also can be utilized online via personalized chats. Customers type their question or concern, and the assistant is programmed with the applicable solutions and guidance. While this type of automated reality doesn’t take place in a separate realm, it is hosted in the virtual sphere, exists separately from a human interaction and incorporates the intelligence and data of the computer. Other businesses and industries, however, facilitate customer service interactions by using VR/AR to identify project issues. Software or apps can now recognize products and identify them for customer service reps. Although this technology isn’t a ‘virtual assistant,’ the technology is an extension of VR/AR. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-85.jpeg] VIRTUAL EXHIBITS & TOURS Virtual reality gives users the opportunity to experience scenes and adventures that may have once been out of reach for them. Museum exhibits can utilize VR by allowing visitors to step into prehistoric worlds or maybe even explore a painting. The tourism industry has taken a financial hit because of Covid, but virtual tours provide a vacation experience that’s safe and relaxing. Now staycations from home can involve virtual excursions to historic sites or even a hike through the canopy of a rainforest. Virtual tours also are utilized in the real estate industry. Potential homebuyers can preview the home of their dreams with online tours and walkthroughs that allow them to see every room and all the home’s amenities and features. THE 360-DEGREE EXPERIENCE OF VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS The Coronavirus pandemic has challenged and changed daily life, and these changes (and challenges) reverberated throughout the retail sector. Visits to stores beyond the necessities were either limited or simply not an option (when restrictions shut-down nonessential businesses). Survival for many stores meant changing how customers shop for clothes, cars and other goods/services. Online shopping became the dominant force, but not all businesses could best display their products in the two-dimensional world of computer imagery. Consumers shopping for a new car need to see details up close, and they also want to view the automobile from multiple vantage points. Standard photos even in high-resolution cannot translate images to 3D. To provide an in-person experience from the comfort of home, some dealerships offered their own virtual showrooms online to display inventory. Others could guide shoppers to the Relay Cars virtual showroom for panoramic views of many different makes and models. Manufacturers or dealers also offered virtual test drives of their automobiles. This virtual test drive model had different functions for dealerships; some scheduled test drives via an app and delivered the car to the consumer for an at-home test drive. Others, though, actually created a virtual test drive that was truly virtual and could be experienced on a phone or computer screen—no keys necessary! The virtual showrooms extended to the fashion world, too. Fashion retailers pre-Covid operated on a dual selling model—customers could order online and they also could view (and try on) items in the store. The retail shutdown meant that those who needed or wanted to preview items in the store didn’t have that option. Like the automotive sector, some boutiques embraced a virtual showroom, allowing consumers to view the entire store in 360 degrees. At some online retailers, customers can view garments from multiple vantage points to assess drape, style and length from different angles. While this isn’t a solution for those who want to try on an item before clicking ‘buy,’ the interactive viewing options may enhance the understanding of a garment’s shape and fit and provide more input for a hesitant buyer. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-86.jpeg] VR AND AR FOR EMPLOYEE TRAINING Across industries, virtual reality and augmented reality also is transforming employee training. This technology is used in flight simulators for pilots, in training simulations for automobile manufacturers, and, per NPR, some simulations teach retail workers how to deal with a robbery. The optimization of this technology depends on the industry and the business’s individual needs. However, the options are seemingly endless. VR TRAINING SESSIONS FOR EMPLOYEES STRIVR is one of the big players in the business of VR training; the company provides training sessions designed for the retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing and technology industries. For the retail sector, these interactive sessions address job roles in multiple areas including customer service, fulfillment, new hire assessment, manager training and culture and values. Employee training sessions can address how to handle customer service issues, help employees learn about new processes in the company, how to most efficiently pack shipments, assess individual skills/weaknesses (e.g. “new hire assessment”), and provide interactive lessons on company culture. Logistics training sessions can include interactive lessons related to onboarding and safety, while lessons/sessions in the financial services sector include fraud protection, sales training, manager training, contact center training and safety training. Walmart and Verizon have used STRIVR for employee training. VR TRAINING SIMULATIONS FOR PILOTS While flight simulators have been around since the early 20th century, virtual reality simulators created a more realistic experience for pilots in training. In 2018, Wired reported that these simulators now provide an integrated sensory experience; the new technology developed by FlyInside provides pilots with the sense of feeling all the switches and dials they would use during a flight. VR FOR TRAINING AND EVALUATION PROTOCOLS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY The automotive sector has utilized virtual reality for safety evaluations and to aid technicians in making repairs. For this industry, VR may be an important tool in detecting design flaws or to simply streamline the visual appeal of the model. Varjo partnered with Volvo for a VR headset—or, rather, a “mixed reality test drive”–that can be used to assess a car model or prototype while driving. The technology allows the driver to test safety technologies and other aspects of the automobile. Porsche’s “Tech Live Look” combines smart glasses with a software platform to help technicians to more easily make repairs. The glasses magnify tiny areas (like screws) and illuminate dark areas for better visibility during repairs. The technology was introduced in 2018. During Covid, Ford utilized virtual reality in its design process. Team directors wore VR headsets to view prototypes in a virtual space, and directors could switch vantage points within the program to view the car from a different angle. Virtual reality ensured that the design process didn’t come to a screeching halt as industries were forced to transition to work-from-home environments. VR AND AR TO BOOST CLIENT SATISFACTION AND RETENTION Success for any business depends on keeping clients and customers happy. Virtual reality and augmented reality also can be used to ensure client satisfaction, which, in turn, leads to retention. Virtual reality experiences can be used to elevate the shopping experience or to simplify the buying process. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-87.jpeg] VR TO VISUALIZE INTERIOR DESIGN Furniture stores sometimes offer interactive experiences for buyers that allow them to photograph a room and upload it to create a virtual simulation of the space. This takes the guesswork out of buying new furnishings, as the simulation may allow buyers to better visualize hues, texture and size/shapes. Macy’s, for example, offers the Virtual Room Designer. After the image of the room is uploaded, buyers can rearrange furniture and add in new pieces to see how they may look at home. This feature allows buyers to know if a nightstand will complement the bed…or look completely out of place. It also ensures that the piece of furniture will fit in the space! Ikea also offers a virtual showroom. Ikea’s Virtual Home Experience, however, is only available in store. The functionalities of the showroom, though, let users delve deep into their creative imagination. Ikea’s website notes that the application lets users swap in furniture, change lighting (to see how the room may look at night or during the day), and opt for different fabrics and hues. Ikea’s VR application is powered by the Oculus Rift. AR TO CHANGE OUR APPEARANCE AR can change the way we look…without changing anything! VR/AR programs allow users to upload photos and make changes to their hair, try makeup hues and, yes, even view plastic surgery results without undergoing the surgery. Wonder how you might look with a smaller nose? There is an AR technology to preview the new virtual you. Sephora and other big beauty names allow users to upload a photo and try on products virtually. On the fence about a lipstick hue? Try it on virtually and see if it’s flattering…or a fail. For Sephora and other companies, this convenient tool may help reduce returns and maybe even lead to more purchases. If more than one eyeshadow looks amazing via the virtual preview, buyers may be more inclined to purchase multiple hues…especially if there is less uncertainty about the purchase. Going for a bold short chic haircut may seem like a big decision. In the past, the potential answer to the burning question of ‘how will it look?’ remained a mystery until the style was completed. However, with AR apps like The Hair Styler, users can try on different styles and colors. Cosmetologists may see a benefit from these apps, as now their clients can show them specifically what they want and how they want it to look. Since the new style will be displayed on the client’s own photo, the style request can be visualized a bit more accurately. In the past few years, cosmetic surgeons have seen an uptick in younger clientele. Today, it isn’t unusual for someone in their 20s to request fillers or perhaps even Botox. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner, who has openly admitted to having lip fillers, also have made these minor cosmetic procedures much more acceptable. However, more invasive procedures like rhinoplasty or face lifts may cause a bit of trepidation for those who are unsure what to expect from the augmentation. Face Touch Up helps take some of the guesswork out of these procedures; surgeons can use this app to show patients the final look after surgery. While the photos might not be an exact recreation, it can help patients visualize the results post-surgery. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-88.jpeg] AR FOR A VIRTUAL FITTING ROOM Retail fashion stores shut down during Covid didn’t have the means to let customers try on clothes. Even now, those fitting rooms may be locked for sanitation reasons to help stop the spread of the virus. FXMirror may transform the way consumers shop for clothes in the store, as the technology eliminates the need for the store to have a fitting room. FXMirror includes a processor, Kinect camera, a wifi router, a virtual fitting application and a Cloth Authoring Tool (aka CAT). The technology works by taking a snapshot of the individual in 3D; measurements are captured that allow for a personalized avatar (choose your own image or a generated avatar). According to the website, users can change hairstyles, skin complexion, and rotate the image for a rear view of an outfit. FXMirror also allows users to change their facial expression. FXMirror can access the full inventory of the boutique or store. While many fitting rooms are shut during the pandemic, these closed spaces also may present a risk for shoplifting. FXMirror and technology like it may help stores decrease the risk of theft while still providing a convenient virtual space for trying on clothing. Virtual reality and augmented reality offer many benefits to businesses. This technology can help facilitate more seamless customer service interactions—especially for simple requests—and it also can improve employee training programs and give a boost to customer satisfaction/retention. Virtual customer service assistants are a primary example of how many companies already utilize this technology. In addition, companies that offer VR training for employees may be the wave of the future, as more industries look for ways to better prepare employees for different scenarios they may face in their new job. VR/AR used as a way to provide insight about purchases can amplify a company’s customer satisfaction and retention rates; virtual reality showrooms, AR programs that provide previews of beauty products and even a VR virtual fitting room all provide customers with the means to see a product before they make their purchase. VR may be a solution to ensure that the customer is always right, while simultaneously minimizing the risk of returns or losing customers because an employee wasn’t right for the role.