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Covid Normal: The Popularity of Immersive Experiences

Covid Normal: The Popularity of Immersive Experiences

June 4, 2021

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

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

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

June 2, 2021

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

How to Make Money in the Gig Economy

How to Make Money in the Gig Economy

May 31, 2021

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

What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality

What is WEBAR? A Handbook on Web Based Augmented Reality

May 31, 2021

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

HTC VIVE’s List of Top Virtual Reality Social Influencers

HTC VIVE’s List of Top Virtual Reality Social Influencers

May 28, 2021

Influencers are held up high within their specific market segment. This could be fashion, automotive, beauty or virtual reality. HTC VIVE released its list of 100 social influencers in virtual reality for 2021, but it isn’t just a random list of who’s who in virtual reality. According to the company’s press release individuals “…were ranked according to several factors including reach, levels of engagement, and how much of their content is dedicated to VR. Additional recognition was awarded to influencers who have a voice in mainstream media, such as Forbes.” Here’s a look at Vive’s list of top virtual reality social influencers, with a focus on the top 10. NUMBER 10: BEN LANG, ROAD TO VR (US) Lang started Road to VR about a decade ago, and he worked at several tech publications for nearly a decade prior to founding the site. Lang has documented the virtual reality industry for years. Road to VR has more than 90,000 Twitter followers, and more than 40,000 followers/likes on Facebook. Lang is followed by more than 22,000 on Twitter and serves as Road to VR’s executive editor. NUMBER 9: VRLOLATHON (THE UNITED KINGDOM) The popular YouTube channel has more than 840,000 subscribers. The channel posts videos like “How to Scare People in VRCHAT” and “Borat but its VR (VRchat funny moments).”  The bio on the channel reads simply: “Just a guy from the UK who loves VR and clowning around.” VRLolathon began in 2018, and has seemingly surged since then. So who is the person behind the channel? The identity seems to be a mystery. However, in the Fandom site for VRChatLegends, VRLolathon is a revered name in the world of virtual reality. The description for Lolathon states: “Lolathon is a content creator of VR Chat, who has been around since the damn concept of the game. For every stream he does, he tries to make a new avatar to show off. His many meme avatars delight, scare, or confuse people, or make them ponder their existence. His home is the VR Chat Circus: the asylum of laughter and screams. Lolathon is one of the Great Meme Pillars of VR Chat.” NUMBER 8: MULLY (AUSTRALIA) Mully is a YouTuber from Australia. The channel has more than five million subscribers. Content includes videos like “when nightmare no no comes for you” and “the strangest vr game of 2021.” The description for the channel? A simple note: “if ur reading this u r cool.” So who is Mully? According to Fandom, his real name is Mullen, and he’s 27; he’s also known to collaborate with YourNarrator, JoshDub, EddieVR, JuicyFruitSnacks. Collectively, per Fandom, they are known as “The Boys.” NUMBER 7: GAWR GURA (JAPAN) Hailing from Japan, Gawr Gura is a YouTuber with more than 2.6 million subscribers. Virtual reality videos often feature anime characters. Per Fandom, Gura uses Hololive. Fandom describes her ‘personality’: “Gura is friendly and readily likeable, and often amuses her viewers with foolish antics. She has no sense of direction, often misspelled and mispronounces words, has trouble remembering her own age, and consistently fails to solve basic math problems, leading viewers to affectionately call her a “dum shark”.” Gura, however, is simply a character…with a backstory! Fandom notes that she is descended from Atlantis, and she swam to Earth. She also wears a shark hat! NUMBER 6: IAN HAMILTON & JAMIE FELTHAM, UPLOADVR (UNITED STATES) Ian Hamilton is the executive editor of Upload VR, and Jamie Feltham is the senior editor (UK) and show producer for the site. According to their bios on the site, Feltham has covered virtual reality for about seven years; Hamilton started covering Oculus virtual reality back in 2012 and has been a full-time virtual reality journalist for about six years. NUMBER 5: APOKI (KOREA) Apoki has more than two million followers on Tik Tok. The main character in videos is a cotton candy pink haired girl, who often is featured with rabbit ears. Apoki also takes on some of TikTok’s viral dance challenges…via virtual reality, of course! Videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views. And it isn’t uncommon for Apoki to @ other TikTok influencers like Charli D’amelio. NUMBER 4: DRUMSY (USA) Drumsy is a popular YouTuber with more than two million subscribers. Some videos include anime, others include other popular cartoon animations. Drumsy’s official Twitter account has more than 120,000 followers. So who is this YouTuber? Once again, Fandom has the details: he has been dubbed “the #1 news reporter of VRChat,” and his videos are created like news stories or documentaries. NUMBER 3: JOSHDUB (AUSTRALIA) Yet another popular YouTuber, JoshDub has more than eight million subscribers. The description of his channel reads: “weird vr memes with the boys.” Of course, the boys are YourNarrator, EddieVR, JuicyFruitSnacks and Mully! Wikitubia notes that JoshDub’s management “…described him as being a pioneer of VR entertainment on YouTube.” NUMBER 2: EDDIEVR (UNITED STATES) Although JoshDub has amassed the most YouTube followers of “The Boys,” EddieVR has more than five million followers…he and Mully are pretty close. So how or why has EddieVR passed Josh on the list of 100 influencers? TikTok could be part of the answer, Eddie has amassed more than seven million followers…and more than 16- million likes…but while Josh still beats him with more than eight million followers…he trails in likes (150 million likes). NUMBER 1: JONATHAN NAFARRETE & MALIA PROBST, VRSCOUT (UNITED STATES) Jonathan Nafarrete is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of VRScout; he also co-founded Scout House, a virtual production studio. Nafarrete has more than 68,000 followers on Twitter. Malia Probst is a founding partner of VRScout and a producer and investor in virtual reality. Probst has more than 11,000 Twitter followers. VRScout, however, has more than 73,000 followers. On YouTube, VRScout’s channel has 31,000 subscribers. Nafarrete and Probst snagged the top spot because of VRScout’s influence and reach. In the press release announcing the list of 100 influencers, HTC VIVE explained VRScout’s place within the industry: “This LA-based start-up has grown to become the world’s leading immersive media network, with a reach of over 250 million people.” Influencers are held up high within their specific market segment. This could be fashion, automotive, beauty or virtual reality. HTC VIVE released its list of 100 social influencers in virtual reality for 2021, but it isn’t just a random list of who’s who in virtual reality. According to the company’s press release individuals “…were ranked according to several factors including reach, levels of engagement, and how much of their content is dedicated to VR. Additional recognition was awarded to influencers who have a voice in mainstream media, such as Forbes.” Here’s a look at Vive’s list of top virtual reality social influencers, with a focus on the top 10. Number 10: Ben Lang, Road to VR (US) Lang started Road to VR about a decade ago, and he worked at several tech publications for nearly a decade prior to founding the site. Lang has documented the virtual reality industry for years. Road to VR has more than 90,000 Twitter followers, and more than 40,000 followers/likes on Facebook. Lang is followed by more than 22,000 on Twitter and serves as Road to VR’s executive editor. Number 9: VRLolathon (the United Kingdom) The popular YouTube channel has more than 840,000 subscribers. The channel posts videos like “How to Scare People in VRCHAT” and “Borat but its VR (VRchat funny moments).” The bio on the channel reads simply: “Just a guy from the UK who loves VR and clowning around.” VRLolathon began in 2018, and has seemingly surged since then. So who is the person behind the channel? The identity seems to be a mystery. However, in the Fandom site for VRChatLegends, VRLolathon is a revered name in the world of virtual reality. The description for Lolathon states: “Lolathon is a content creator of VR Chat, who has been around since the damn concept of the game. For every stream he does, he tries to make a new avatar to show off. His many meme avatars delight, scare, or confuse people, or make them ponder their existence. His home is the VR Chat Circus: the asylum of laughter and screams. Lolathon is one of the Great Meme Pillars of VR Chat.” Number 8: Mully (Australia) Mully is a YouTuber from Australia. The channel has more than five million subscribers. Content includes videos like “when nightmare no no comes for you” and “the strangest vr game of 2021.” The description for the channel? A simple note: “if ur reading this u r cool.” So who is Mully? According to Fandom, his real name is Mullen, and he’s 27; he’s also known to collaborate with YourNarrator, JoshDub, EddieVR, JuicyFruitSnacks. Collectively, per Fandom, they are known as “The Boys.” Number 7: Gawr Gura (Japan) Hailing from Japan, Gawr Gura is a YouTuber with more than 2.6 million subscribers. Virtual reality videos often feature anime characters. Per Fandom, Gura uses Hololive. Fandom describes her ‘personality’: “Gura is friendly and readily likeable, and often amuses her viewers with foolish antics. She has no sense of direction, often misspelled and mispronounces words, has trouble remembering her own age, and consistently fails to solve basic math problems, leading viewers to affectionately call her a "dum shark".” Gura, however, is simply a character…with a backstory! Fandom notes that she is descended from Atlantis, and she swam to Earth. She also wears a shark hat! Number 6: Ian Hamilton & Jamie Feltham, UploadVR (United States) Ian Hamilton is the executive editor of Upload VR, and Jamie Feltham is the senior editor (UK) and show producer for the site. According to their bios on the site, Feltham has covered virtual reality for about seven years; Hamilton started covering Oculus virtual reality back in 2012 and has been a full-time virtual reality journalist for about six years. Number 5: Apoki (Korea) Apoki has more than two million followers on Tik Tok. The main character in videos is a cotton candy pink haired girl, who often is featured with rabbit ears. Apoki also takes on some of TikTok’s viral dance challenges…via virtual reality, of course! Videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views. And it isn’t uncommon for Apoki to @ other TikTok influencers like Charli D'amelio. Number 4: Drumsy (USA) Drumsy is a popular YouTuber with more than two million subscribers. Some videos include anime, others include other popular cartoon animations. Drumsy’s official Twitter account has more than 120,000 followers. So who is this YouTuber? Once again, Fandom has the details: he has been dubbed “the #1 news reporter of VRChat,” and his videos are created like news stories or documentaries. Number 3: JoshDub (Australia) Yet another popular YouTuber, JoshDub has more than eight million subscribers. The description of his channel reads: “weird vr memes with the boys.” Of course, the boys are YourNarrator, EddieVR, JuicyFruitSnacks and Mully! Wikitubia notes that JoshDub’s management “…described him as being a pioneer of VR entertainment on YouTube.” Number 2: EddieVR (United States) Although JoshDub has amassed the most YouTube followers of “The Boys,” EddieVR has more than five million followers…he and Mully are pretty close. So how or why has EddieVR passed Josh on the list of 100 influencers? TikTok could be part of the answer, Eddie has amassed more than seven million followers…and more than 16- million likes…but while Josh still beats him with more than eight million followers…he trails in likes (150 million likes). Number 1: Jonathan Nafarrete & Malia Probst, VRScout (United States) Jonathan Nafarrete is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of VRScout; he also co-founded Scout House, a virtual production studio. Nafarrete has more than 68,000 followers on Twitter. Malia Probst is a founding partner of VRScout and a producer and investor in virtual reality. Probst has more than 11,000 Twitter followers. VRScout, however, has more than 73,000 followers. On YouTube, VRScout’s channel has 31,000 subscribers. Nafarrete and Probst snagged the top spot because of VRScout’s influence and reach. In the press release announcing the list of 100 influencers, HTC VIVE explained VRScout’s place within the industry: “This LA-based start-up has grown to become the world’s leading immersive media network, with a reach of over 250 million people.” The List Next Year VIVE HTC isn’t the first to name the top influencers in virtual reality. In 2017, Onalytica released its own list; that year, Rick King (@RickKing16) was named the top virtual reality influencer. King was listed as a consultant. Ian Hamilton and Jamie Feltham (who were both with Upload) also made the list at #9 and #10 (Feltham). Malia Probst came in at #39. So will another list pop up in 2022? With the way technology is advancing, and the boost virtual and augmented reality had during Covid, there could be an update on who holds the most influential reins in the virtual or augmented worlds. There may be many contenders next year. However, there also could be a halt in not necessarily influence but advancement because of the microchip shortage. What’s On the Virtual Horizon? For consumers who aren’t following virtual reality or augmented reality, it’s never too late to delve into these technologies and try them out. New products may soon hit the market. Facebook is working on prototypes for wristbands or bracelets with augmented reality. While headsets remain a portal into the virtual world, consumers don’t necessarily have to spend high dollars to step into an augmented (or virtual) world. There are many free apps and experiences via phones or other devices. Augmented reality is an incredibly popular technology for apps, and whether users have an Apple or Android device, the list of augmented reality apps can be vast. There are popular augmented reality games including Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive, and Zombies, Run! Many stores also use augmented reality to heighten the user experience. Preview paint colors via augmented reality, or use augmented reality apps to place new furniture in a room before buying. Augmented reality apps even let consumers preview cosmetics hues. Individuals with an Android device can try out some of Google’s new augmented reality experiences. <a href= [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/The-List-Next-Year.jpg]Floom lets users draw a whirling portal (or hole) into their environment and see the world on the other side. Sodar is an augmented reality experience that lets users draw an AR perimeter around themselves to better stay socially distant. Google also is working on an experience that will allow photos to come alive with augmented reality. Even cars offer augmented reality experiences. Backup cameras provide grid lines over the real world to detail how the car will turn. Smart rearview mirrors also may show augmented reality images to better aid the driver. And virtual reality can be used to preview cars during the at-home shopping experience. Use sites like RelayCars to open up and experience a virtual reality showroom; look inside the car, change paint colors and more. RelayCars can be used via an app without a headset or via an app on Steam with a headset for a more immersive experience. Next year, the game could change for augmented reality and virtual reality. Who knows what new experience, game or device will be developed. And new influencers could change the world of virtual reality and augmented reality in 2022. THE LIST NEXT YEAR VIVE HTC isn’t the first to name the top influencers in virtual reality. In 2017, Onalytica released its own list; that year, Rick King (@RickKing16) was named the top virtual reality influencer. King was listed as a consultant. Ian Hamilton and Jamie Feltham (who were both with Upload) also made the list at #9 and #10 (Feltham). Malia Probst came in at #39.   So will another list pop up in 2022? With the way technology is advancing, and the boost virtual and augmented reality had during Covid, there could be an update on who holds the most influential reins in the virtual or augmented worlds. There may be many contenders next year. However, there also could be a halt in not necessarily influence but advancement because of the microchip shortage. Influencers are held up high within their specific market segment. This could be fashion, automotive, beauty or virtual reality. HTC VIVE released its list of 100 social influencers in virtual reality for 2021, but it isn’t just a random list of who’s who in virtual reality. According to the company’s press release individuals “…were ranked according to several factors including reach, levels of engagement, and how much of their content is dedicated to VR. Additional recognition was awarded to influencers who have a voice in mainstream media, such as Forbes.” Here’s a look at Vive’s list of top virtual reality social influencers, with a focus on the top 10. Number 10: Ben Lang, Road to VR (US) Lang started Road to VR about a decade ago, and he worked at several tech publications for nearly a decade prior to founding the site. Lang has documented the virtual reality industry for years. Road to VR has more than 90,000 Twitter followers, and more than 40,000 followers/likes on Facebook. Lang is followed by more than 22,000 on Twitter and serves as Road to VR’s executive editor. Number 9: VRLolathon (the United Kingdom) The popular YouTube channel has more than 840,000 subscribers. The channel posts videos like “How to Scare People in VRCHAT” and “Borat but its VR (VRchat funny moments).” The bio on the channel reads simply: “Just a guy from the UK who loves VR and clowning around.” VRLolathon began in 2018, and has seemingly surged since then. So who is the person behind the channel? The identity seems to be a mystery. However, in the Fandom site for VRChatLegends, VRLolathon is a revered name in the world of virtual reality. The description for Lolathon states: “Lolathon is a content creator of VR Chat, who has been around since the damn concept of the game. For every stream he does, he tries to make a new avatar to show off. His many meme avatars delight, scare, or confuse people, or make them ponder their existence. His home is the VR Chat Circus: the asylum of laughter and screams. Lolathon is one of the Great Meme Pillars of VR Chat.” Number 8: Mully (Australia) Mully is a YouTuber from Australia. The channel has more than five million subscribers. Content includes videos like “when nightmare no no comes for you” and “the strangest vr game of 2021.” The description for the channel? A simple note: “if ur reading this u r cool.” So who is Mully? According to Fandom, his real name is Mullen, and he’s 27; he’s also known to collaborate with YourNarrator, JoshDub, EddieVR, JuicyFruitSnacks. Collectively, per Fandom, they are known as “The Boys.” Number 7: Gawr Gura (Japan) Hailing from Japan, Gawr Gura is a YouTuber with more than 2.6 million subscribers. Virtual reality videos often feature anime characters. Per Fandom, Gura uses Hololive. Fandom describes her ‘personality’: “Gura is friendly and readily likeable, and often amuses her viewers with foolish antics. She has no sense of direction, often misspelled and mispronounces words, has trouble remembering her own age, and consistently fails to solve basic math problems, leading viewers to affectionately call her a "dum shark".” Gura, however, is simply a character…with a backstory! Fandom notes that she is descended from Atlantis, and she swam to Earth. She also wears a shark hat! Number 6: Ian Hamilton & Jamie Feltham, UploadVR (United States) Ian Hamilton is the executive editor of Upload VR, and Jamie Feltham is the senior editor (UK) and show producer for the site. According to their bios on the site, Feltham has covered virtual reality for about seven years; Hamilton started covering Oculus virtual reality back in 2012 and has been a full-time virtual reality journalist for about six years. Number 5: Apoki (Korea) Apoki has more than two million followers on Tik Tok. The main character in videos is a cotton candy pink haired girl, who often is featured with rabbit ears. Apoki also takes on some of TikTok’s viral dance challenges…via virtual reality, of course! Videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views. And it isn’t uncommon for Apoki to @ other TikTok influencers like Charli D'amelio. Number 4: Drumsy (USA) Drumsy is a popular YouTuber with more than two million subscribers. Some videos include anime, others include other popular cartoon animations. Drumsy’s official Twitter account has more than 120,000 followers. So who is this YouTuber? Once again, Fandom has the details: he has been dubbed “the #1 news reporter of VRChat,” and his videos are created like news stories or documentaries. Number 3: JoshDub (Australia) Yet another popular YouTuber, JoshDub has more than eight million subscribers. The description of his channel reads: “weird vr memes with the boys.” Of course, the boys are YourNarrator, EddieVR, JuicyFruitSnacks and Mully! Wikitubia notes that JoshDub’s management “…described him as being a pioneer of VR entertainment on YouTube.” Number 2: EddieVR (United States) Although JoshDub has amassed the most YouTube followers of “The Boys,” EddieVR has more than five million followers…he and Mully are pretty close. So how or why has EddieVR passed Josh on the list of 100 influencers? TikTok could be part of the answer, Eddie has amassed more than seven million followers…and more than 16- million likes…but while Josh still beats him with more than eight million followers…he trails in likes (150 million likes). Number 1: Jonathan Nafarrete & Malia Probst, VRScout (United States) Jonathan Nafarrete is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of VRScout; he also co-founded Scout House, a virtual production studio. Nafarrete has more than 68,000 followers on Twitter. Malia Probst is a founding partner of VRScout and a producer and investor in virtual reality. Probst has more than 11,000 Twitter followers. VRScout, however, has more than 73,000 followers. On YouTube, VRScout’s channel has 31,000 subscribers. Nafarrete and Probst snagged the top spot because of VRScout’s influence and reach. In the press release announcing the list of 100 influencers, HTC VIVE explained VRScout’s place within the industry: “This LA-based start-up has grown to become the world’s leading immersive media network, with a reach of over 250 million people.” The List Next Year VIVE HTC isn’t the first to name the top influencers in virtual reality. In 2017, Onalytica released its own list; that year, Rick King (@RickKing16) was named the top virtual reality influencer. King was listed as a consultant. Ian Hamilton and Jamie Feltham (who were both with Upload) also made the list at #9 and #10 (Feltham). Malia Probst came in at #39. So will another list pop up in 2022? With the way technology is advancing, and the boost virtual and augmented reality had during Covid, there could be an update on who holds the most influential reins in the virtual or augmented worlds. There may be many contenders next year. However, there also could be a halt in not necessarily influence but advancement because of the microchip shortage. What’s On the Virtual Horizon? For consumers who aren’t following virtual reality or augmented reality, it’s never too late to delve into these technologies and try them out. New products may soon hit the market. Facebook is working on prototypes for wristbands or bracelets with augmented reality. While headsets remain a portal into the virtual world, consumers don’t necessarily have to spend high dollars to step into an augmented (or virtual) world. There are many free apps and experiences via phones or other devices. Augmented reality is an incredibly popular technology for apps, and whether users have an Apple or Android device, the list of augmented reality apps can be vast. There are popular augmented reality games including Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive, and Zombies, Run! Many stores also use augmented reality to heighten the user experience. Preview paint colors via augmented reality, or use augmented reality apps to place new furniture in a room before buying. Augmented reality apps even let consumers preview cosmetics hues. Individuals with an Android device can try out some of Google’s new augmented reality experiences. Floom lets users draw a whirling portal (or hole) into their environment and see the world on the other side. Sodar is an augmented reality experience that lets users draw an AR perimeter around themselves to better stay socially distant. Google also is working on an experience that will allow photos to come alive with augmented reality. Even cars offer augmented reality experiences. Backup cameras provide grid lines over the real world to detail how the car will turn. Smart rearview mirrors also may show augmented reality images to better aid the driver. And virtual reality can be used to preview cars during the at-home shopping experience. Use sites like RelayCars to open up and experience a virtual reality showroom; look inside the car, change paint colors and more. RelayCars can be used via an app without a headset or via an app on Steam with a headset for a more immersive experience. Next year, the game could change for augmented reality and virtual reality. Who knows what new experience, game or device will be developed. And new influencers could change the world of virtual reality and augmented reality in 2022. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Virtual-Horizon.jpg] WHAT’S ON THE VIRTUAL HORIZON? For consumers who aren’t following virtual reality or augmented reality, it’s never too late to delve into these technologies and try them out. New products may soon hit the market. Facebook is working on prototypes for wristbands or bracelets with augmented reality. While headsets remain a portal into the virtual world, consumers don’t necessarily have to spend high dollars to step into an augmented (or virtual) world. There are many free apps and experiences via phones or other devices. Augmented reality is an incredibly popular technology for apps, and whether users have an Apple or Android device, the list of augmented reality apps can be vast. There are popular augmented reality games including Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive, and Zombies, Run! Many stores also use augmented reality to heighten the user experience. Preview paint colors via augmented reality, or use augmented reality apps to place new furniture in a room before buying. Augmented reality apps even let consumers preview cosmetics hues. Individuals with an Android device can try out some of Google’s new augmented reality experiences. Floom lets users draw a whirling portal (or hole) into their environment and see the world on the other side. Sodar is an augmented reality experience that lets users draw an AR perimeter around themselves to better stay socially distant. Google also is working on an experience that will allow photos to come alive with augmented reality. Even cars offer augmented reality experiences. Backup cameras provide grid lines over the real world to detail how the car will turn. Smart rearview mirrors also may show augmented reality images to better aid the driver. And virtual reality can be used to preview cars during the at-home shopping experience. Use sites like RelayCars to open up and experience a virtual reality showroom; look inside the car, change paint colors and more. RelayCars can be used via an app without a headset or via an app on Steam with a headset for a more immersive experience. Next year, the game could change for augmented reality and virtual reality. Who knows what new experience, game or device will be developed. And new influencers could change the world of virtual reality and augmented reality in 2022.

Categories: Virtual Reality
Driving into the Future: An Update on the Autonomous Car

Driving into the Future: An Update on the Autonomous Car

May 27, 2021

Technology leaders like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Tesla may be in a race to discover who will develop the first successful autonomous car…and who will take this concept mainstream. Technological innovations are driving the future, and autonomous cars may soon take the driver’s seat and hit the highways. Before consumers can purchase a car that drives without a driver, though, there are many hurdles developers need to cross. Many are trying to pave the way for autonomous travel across the nation’s highways and byways, but how far are these companies in unveiling the first true self-driving car? Here’s an update on driving autonomy and what the future may hold. Driving into the Future: An Update on the Autonomous Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/The-Robotaxi.jpg] THE ROBOTAXI China may be taking the lead on self-driving innovation. New Atlas reported that Baidu (a Chinese tech titan) has hit the gas on its Apollo self-driving Robotaxis. According to the news story, the taxis will service Shougang Park in Shanghai and already clocked more than 10 million kilometers in prior safety tests before they became available to the public. New Atlas explains that the service will be tied to the Apollo app. Individuals can download the app and then hail an Apollo robotaxi. QR codes are reportedly used to verify the identity of the individual, and these codes gain access to the taxi. The passenger touches a button to begin the ride, but the journey only begins when the seatbelt is fastened and no doors are ajar. The service will be available to individuals visiting for the 2022 Olympics, so Baidu’s service could make quite the impression on international visitors. In the United States, robotaxis also are being test piloted in certain cities. Back in 2020, California gave the green light to robotaxis that hoped to operate in the state.  About a month after The Verge reported on California’s nod to autonomy, it was announced that Amazon’s Zoox (a self-driving robotaxi) would debut ridesharing operations in San Francisco and Las Vegas. However, Zoox planned to test services in three cities first: Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Foster City, Calif. December was a busy month for robotaxi announcements in the States. Reuters reported that Lyft and Motional were partnering up to swerve into the robotaxi lane. Per the story, the companies would debut services in 2023. Meanwhile, Waymo (an Alphabet subsidiary) began to offer services in Chandler, Ariz. The robotaxi service was officially open to the public, at least in that specific city. Tesla also may be ready to hit the road with its own robotaxi service. Business Insider reported that Tesla plans to launch a ridesharing robotaxi service that can be hailed via app. According to the story, members of the public also could add their own cars to the fleet (assuming they own a Tesla). GM, with the help of Microsoft as well as other investors, anticipates getting the Cruise up for robotaxi services . The Cruise will include Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, and Microsoft’s Edge. While Cruise has conducted test drives in San Francisco, Car and Driver notes that an official date for the robotaxi services is unknown. Car and Driver also reported that Cadillac unveiled two autonomous concepts at the CES trade show. One was compared to a limo, and this concept was an elegant travel pod that featured self-driving capabilities. Cadillac took transport a bit bolder with the second concept—a travel drone! Yes, passengers could be transported to their destination via a drone. Car and Driver explained that neither product had a release date. THE SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE Most of the tech titans are working, testing or even unveiling some type of robotaxi or autonomous taxi service. This is probably the beginning of self-driving car evolution. While companies are creating a taxi that can transport passengers, these cars have not yet gone completely mainstream. The U.S. has one robotaxi model launched in a city, while others are still testing in specific markets. In China, one area is serviced with possibly other areas to follow. For autonomous cars to move forward and advance to the next stage, these robotaxis likely have to not only be successful but also free from accidents or hazards. Launching an ehailing service has taken time, because all the companies swerving into the market have been testing out their designs. Baidu’s Apollo robotaxi in China logged millions of miles before announcing it would be providing services to the general public. So what does this mean for mainstream autonomous vehicles? Many companies are eyeing self-driving cars, but, again, the robotaxis will likely need to be successful (and safe!) before companies may move forward with perfecting a car for the mass consumer market. Designing and launching a self-driving car to the public also will likely involve rigorous tests on the road. However, if robotaxis are a safe success, perhaps companies could pull the technology over into the consumer market. Consumer vehicles might need to integrate further safety features or other more advanced programming. The robotaxis might only be programmed for a specific area, while a consumer self-driving car would need to be able to navigate anywhere in the country. IMAGINING THE CONSUMER VEHICLE The concepts for the robotaxi look somewhat similar. Many appear to be squared-off in design. However, the robotaxi is meant to be a convenient shuttle or taxi service, while the consumer car will need to fit the design appeal of the buyer. Autonomous cars for the public could launch in one design. As the technology is updated each year, though, companies could begin to alter the body design. Maybe these cars become sleeker or more elaborate. Even though Cadillac’s autonomous ‘limo’ isn’t set to launch, this could be an interesting prototype design for a luxury autonomous vehicle. Humans won’t be behind the wheel, and this opens the door to creating a car that incorporates both luxury and entertainment features. Could there be plush pillows, luxury textile finishes like silk or velvet, or even virtual reality or augmented reality built into the entertainment system? Many automobile manufacturers are working on their own unique technological advances for their vehicles. Nissan has been working on its Invisible-to-Visible technology, and perhaps these unique components—like the possibility of allowing avatars to join the ride—could become incorporated into a self-driving concept. It also would be reasonable to assume that any car launched by a technology company—like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple or Google—would pair with the company’s other tech offerings. Siri or Alexa, for example, could be the voice of the car or at least manage aspects of the car’s technology. However, this is all presumption. THE RULES OF THE ROAD Thinking about autonomous consumer cars also ushers in the question of how these cars would be policed. How would laws apply to a car that doesn’t have a driver? Would law enforcement officers still drive standard cars, or would they simply be passengers, too? The details behind self-driving cars can become complicated. If there was an accident, how would fault be defined? Would cars communicate with each other? Would every car make its own autonomous decisions, based on the environment? Perhaps street signs, stop lights and other signage communicate with vehicles. Would the road include sensors that can provide intelligence to these smart, autonomous cars? Or would satellites overhead control everything? The future of self-driving cars is exciting, but it may be quite some time before all drivers get bumped from the driver’s seat by AI. To experience the concept of automobile autonomy, though, and to gauge how it might feel and look, perhaps visitors to the cities that are test sites for autonomous robotaxis might decide to take a driverless ride. Hailing a robotaxi might be the new tourist experience. Driving into the Future: An Update on the Autonomous Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Chip-Shortage.jpg] WILL THE CHIP SHORTAGE AFFECT INNOVATION? Automobile manufacturers are all trying to manage production during a microchip shortage. Some plants have had to shut down, and consumers may be faced with a limited selection on car lots. But how does the chip shortage affect development as it relates to these autonomous vehicles? Contributor Lance Eliot tackles that concern for Forbes. Eliot makes the point that autonomous vehicles would consume chips beyond the normal car, and, if the chip shortage were to continue, automakers would need to effectively estimate the amount of chips they would need. Would this even be possible? More importantly, though, and separately from Eliot’s column, could the chip shortage short-circuit innovation and tech evolution in the automotive sector? While many robotaxis are being tested in the U.S., what happens if, and when, new vehicles need to be built? Or chips need to be replaced? What about any vehicles in production or in the design phase? Ultimately, how can the industry move ahead when the chips needed to innovate are limited? While Chinese tech companies are moving on with their autonomous creations, will the U.S. fall behind? Funding may help to infuse the tech sector with the resources it needs to amp up chip production, and the U.S. could see demand and supply even out. However, it could be a while for the chip crisis to resolve. Perhaps the future of the autonomous vehicle depends on the technology that truly drives it: microchips. Self-driving cars could be the future, but until all the chips are on the table, the car might not be able to drive forward.

The Future of VR and Facebook Reality Labs

The Future of VR and Facebook Reality Labs

May 26, 2021

Virtual Reality is classified as computer-generated simulations of three-dimensional images or environments — images and environments which can be interacted with.  The VR industry as a whole happens to be growing and being applied at a rapid pace. The global VR market size is projected to increase from around 5 billion U.S. dollars (in 2021) to more than 12 billion U.S. dollars (by 2024). The overall aim of VR technology is to set the table for a consumer to engage with VR technology and be immersed in a convincingly real artificial world. VR systems generally come with special electronic equipment — usually a helmet or goggles with a screen equipped inside and sometimes with sensor-fitted gloves. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/The-Early-Days.jpg] VR: THE EARLY DAYS VR history goes back a little further than many might think. Technologists have been working on developing simulated environments for decades. The earliest VR milestone was the Sensorama (1956), developed by Morton Heilig, who had a background in motion pictures. Wanting to create an experience for viewers where they felt like they were actually in the movie, Heilig created a machine which created an experience that simulated a real city environment.  Viewers/users could ride through this city on a motorcycle, completely virtually. Multisensory stimulation would allow users to see the city road, hear the motorcycle engine, feel various vibrations, and even smell motor exhaust in this simulated world. Heilig would also develop and patent a head-mounted display device, which was called the Telesphere Mask (1960). Obviously, future inventors would start to build upon Heilig’s foundational work — and VR masks/headsets are now commonplace as a result. OCULUS RIFT UPS THE ANTE Then came Oculus Rift, which is a line of virtual reality headsets that was developed and made by Oculus VR (which is a division of Facebook Inc.). This technology was released to the public on March 28, 2016. Oculus Rift headsets were first made available in 20 countries — at a starting price of $599 in US dollars. In their early days, Oculus Rift raised 2.5 million dollars on Kickstarter in order to start making their products — this was in 2012. Facebook would end up purchasing Oculus Rift for $2 billion dollars two years later.  Although it’s a little bit strange to be talking about the history of Oculus Rift when it’s only been around for half a decade, it’s easy to say that Oculus Rift is on the forefront of VR technology.  VR IN THE 80S AND 90S VR wasn’t in the best spot in the 80s and 90s — dozens of companies and organizations had tried to turn VR headsets into some semblance of viable commercial success, but all of them ended up failing… and failing hard. Many VR systems were far too expensive for the average person to even consider purchasing. Most VR systems didn’t work properly or create a convincing experience, either. Some VR systems were even far too ahead of their time. Components were too expensive and difficult to source and most home version computers were not powerful enough to help create a truly immersive experience. The Future of VR and Facebook Reality Labs [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/History-of-Oculus-Rift.jpg] A BRIEF HISTORY OF OCULUS RIFT The earliest iterations of Oculus Rift were meant to be used by developers and early VR adopters in order to help pioneers get their first experiences with virtual reality. These bulkier headsets were not exactly meant to sit on store shelves, but the original intent was to provide a palate cleanser for old VR experiences as well as get people to start building things in VR in order to utilize and expand the technology. Although the original prototypes and early models were still effective, there was missing technology that we consider commonplace today. Initial headsets did not have positional tracking, which is essential in order to track movement. Early headsets were said to cause motion sickness due to poor resolution, no positional tracking, etc. Subsequent Oculus Rift headsets would utilize new technology, powered by OLED displays instead of LCD displays, which offered brighter screen viewing and far less motion blur. They also cut delay in half and began using black frames to fool the brain into thinking it sees a smooth-moving image. One thing that Oculus Rift has always had going for it was the way people perceived the company. People have been rooting for this underdog since it was first conceived. The Oculus Rift story was one of those tech world fairy tales about brilliant whiz-kids turning their garage project into an actual company making millions. The Future of VR and Facebook Reality Labs [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Facebook-Gets-Involved.jpg] FACEBOOK GETS INVOLVED The fact that Oculus Rift originally launched on Kickstarter is a crucial decision/detail — Oculus Rift was able to glean a sort of “homegrown” street cred that mainstream organizations simply cannot emulate. There was something undeniably “indie” about Oculus Rift, which is perhaps part of why they were able to easily raise around $100 million from shrewd venture capitalists. This street cred was understandably under fire when Oculus Rift was acquired by Facebook. Backlash began to commence from Oculus Rift’s biggest and loyal fans. Many fans cancelled their DK2 orders and even began to predict that Oculus Rift would go under in no time flat. Oculus Rift assured their customers and fans that they would remain independent from Facebook.  Since then, Oculus Rift has been very careful to ensure that its products remain autonomous from Facebook. There is no Facebook messaging or branding associated with Oculus Rift or any of its products… and probably rightfully so. Most people who are still onboard with Oculus Rift have accepted their involvement with Facebook and adopt a “throw money at it but leave it alone,” mentality. Since the early days of Oculus Rift VR hardware has come a long way and virtual reality is being utilized in many different industries — not simply for video gaming, although obviously VR has some excellent synergy with gaming in all forms. VR tooling and technology became more versatile and developers seemed to have unlocked secrets about what makes a good VR experience and video game. The fact that Oculus Rift was first launched with an Xbox controller seems like a long time ago and possibly even a world away by now. The Future of VR and Facebook Reality Labs [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/How-Facebook-Helps-Oculus-Rift.jpg] HOW FACEBOOK HELPS OCULUS RIFT Facebook has actually helped Oculus Rift in the innovation department. VR evolution has been exceptionally fast as shown with Facebook’s headset, the Oculus Go, which arrived to consumers in 2018. Oculus Go would be the affordable entrypoint into VR for the average consumer, not to mention represented the company’s first all-in-one (AIO) device. This would set the groundwork for future Oculus endeavors. Next would come the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S — which were both launched in May of 2019. These headsets heralded a new era in which 6 degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) would then become the baseline. These products had an extremely short lifespan — Oculus Go’s 3DoF control was just a little too simplistic for consumers, which resulted in the technology being discontinued as of late 2020. Oculus Quest was superseded in 17 months (succeeded by Oculus Quest 2). Rift S will end up being discontinued very soon as well. Do not be discouraged by short lifecycle trends, which are going to continue as Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) continues “working on the next few generations of virtual reality and what Quest 3 and 4 are gonna look like,” says Facebook head honcho Mark Zuckerberg.  VR: WHAT NOW? VR systems are still trying to deliver a fully immersive experience. While VR is being used by advertisers, the medical industry, various tech sectors, the military, and more, it will continue to evolve and develop, ultimately creating a fully convincing experience that incorporates sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. VR technology has also shown how beneficial and useful it can be during the COVID-19 pandemic, where VR technology was used to show houses, automobiles, and other products, give virtual tours of spaces, and more. Even websites are starting to incorporate VR and AR technology in order to help connect audiences with companies and products in a more effective and engaging way. Facebook Reality Labs’ Chief Scientist Michael Abrash went on record saying that, “We are at the very beginning. All this innovation, all this invention still has to happen with VR. People should realize that we’ve come a long way and we’ve done a great job—but this road stretches out for the rest of their lifetimes.” VR technologies include face tracking, hand tracking, eye tracking, not to mention incorporating brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and AI-powered interfaces — all of which have an important part to play. The extent and reach of these technologies and their uses and applications remains to be seen.

Categories: Virtual Reality
Facebook’s World of Augmented Reality

Facebook’s World of Augmented Reality

May 24, 2021

Facebook is no stranger to virtual or augmented reality. The company owns Oculus, which makes virtual reality headsets that are used for virtual reality gaming as well as other VR experiences. The Verge reported that about 20 percent of Facebook’s employees are contributing to virtual reality tech for the company and that about 10,000 work in the Virtual Reality Labs for the company. Facebook also has topped many lists of virtual reality leaders. However, Facebook’s world of augmented reality also is expanding. Facebook’s Reality Labs include innovations in the augmented reality sector. Facebook is hoping to introduce new augmented reality glasses but it also may be working on an augmented reality bracelet, too. FACEBOOK’S WEARABLE TECH In March 2021, Facebook posted a video and an article looking at the possibility of wearable wrist technology that incorporates augmented reality. The company explained that it’s busy working on augmented reality glasses and envisioned a future of human computer interactions (or HCI). The company further explained: “Two of the most critical elements are contextually-aware AI that understands your commands and actions as well as the context and environment around you, and technology to let you communicate with the system effortlessly….” The technology for HCI would need to involve deep understanding on the part of AI to understand or inference “…about what information you might need or things you might want to do in various contexts, based on an understanding of you and your surroundings, and will present you with a tailored set of choices.” However, the company believes that this technology won’t become a reality in the near future. What could possibly be on the horizon for augmented reality is wearable tech like a bracelet. Facebook originally conceived their envisioned tech as glasses, however the company felt that the technology would be more suitable for the wrist, as a type of bracelet. The technology could be used anywhere, but privacy also was an important concern. In addition, the company explained that the tech would need to be easy to use, but smart or, as Facebook notes “intuitive.” The ideal way that Facebook conceived that such technology could exist was in the form of a bracelet. The technology could be worn easily and could interact. So why was a bracelet the best choice? It’s close to the hands, which gives the wearer an easy way to interact with the device. The bracelet would include electromyography (EMG), which “…uses sensors to translate electrical motor nerve signals that travel through the wrist to the hand into digital commands that you can use to control the functions of a device.”  According to Facebook, these “neural interfaces” would allow the individual to control the technology; so, in many aspects, this would be the opposite of the idea of AI taking over. So how would the bracelet be used? Hrvoje Benko, the research director for Facebook’s Research Labs (FRL), explained on the company’s web site that the wearable could interact with augmented reality glasses. “We believe our wristband wearables may offer a path to ultra-low-friction, always-available input for AR glasses, but they’re not a complete solution on their own — just as the mouse is one piece of the graphical user interface,” said Benko on Facebook’s tech site. “They need to be assisted with intent prediction and user modeling that adapts to you and your particular context in real time.” And the tech could be predictive. The device could understand that what you’ve done in the past would be done in the present, too. Daily patterns could translate into aiding this predictive technology. If you call your mother at noon everyday, the device could start to understand that this is a daily task worth a prompt. Suddenly, the user could be asked if you want to talk to your mother. On Facebook’s site, Tanja Jonker, Research Science Manager for FRL, talks about the tech predicting daily runs (if this is a habit)…and having the tech ask if it should stream the running playlist. Touch also may be a part of this wristband. One of the details that might be important is ‘haptic feedback,’ or physical signals to the user. Facebook explains that this could be used via separate pulses for important emails versus emails that aren’t such a high priority. Several wristband prototypes are being built that, according to Facebook, will help them delve deeper into the world of wristband haptics. The two prototypes currently include the Bellowband and the Tasbi (which was named for an acronym meaning Tactile and Squeeze Bracelet Interface). During development and research of all this technology, Facebook noted that it also was investigating all the privacy, security and safety issues and implications of the possible technology. “We think deeply about how our technologies can positively and negatively impact society, so we drive our research and development in a highly principled fashion,” said Sean Keller, FRL Research Science Director, via a story on Facebook’s site. “with transparency and intellectual honesty at the very core of what we do and what we build.” So when would the wristband or bracelet debut? The story is still unfolding, but the technology is obviously very much underway. Technology Review wrote a story about the wristband and noted that the bracelet has an appearance of “…a clunky iPod on a strap”. The writer wasn’t yet able to test it out. Still, this technology—and likely the look of it, too—is still in the prototype stage. That clunky appearance could evolve into something sleeker. As Facebook hasn’t formally announced any sale date or any date that the device could enter the market, anything is possible for the wristband. FACEBOOK’S SPARK AR Facebook also offers Spark AR, which allows users to create their own effects or augmented reality experiences that can be used on both Facebook and Instagram. Interested individuals need to take a Spark AR class, however, to learn how to use the technology.   However, Spark AR is seemingly accessible for anyone with an interest. There is an entire curriculum for Spark AR that begins with the course “Introduction to Augmented Reality.”  FAcebook also offers a community where creators can share their knowledge. The Spark AR Forum is a hub where creators or interested individuals can ask questions or post on topics related to augmented reality. For Spark AR, users will need a Facebook account. Facebook’s World of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Facebooks-Smart-Glasses.jpg] WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK’S SMART GLASSES? The internet has been buzzing about different augmented and virtual reality products from different tech players. However, Facebook’s upcoming smart glasses may be the public’s introduction into what is to come for the company. The glasses will be in partnership with Luxottica, the company that owns sunglasses brands including Maui Jim and Ray Ban. Facebook x Ray-Ban smart glasses will not include augmented reality, however. The teaser video that was posted via YouTube offered little about the new glasses. Consumers don’t even know if these glasses will be in Ray-Ban’s signature Aviator or Wayfarer model, although the Wayfarer would probably be a great choice because of the model’s substantial frame. Consumers can be on the lookout for these new glasses, which should arrive sometime this year. Exactly when the glasses will drop, however, and how much the glasses will cost has yet to be announced. Facebook’s World of Augmented Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Future-is-Augmented-and-Virtual.jpg] THE FUTURE IS AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL Facebook is one of several companies working on new augmented and virtual reality products and/or experiences. Google has released several new augmented reality experiences—one which helps consumers socially distance themselves. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook talked to Kara Swisher via her podcast about augmented reality. For many in the tech sector, the biggest project in the works is the autonomous car. Many of the tech titans are in the midst of developing some type of self-driving vehicle. Currently, robotaxis are being tested in several cities. Amazon is testing its Zoox robotaxi in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Foster City, Calif. Waymo is already offering robotaxi services in Chandler, Ariz. Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. (aka Google’s parent company). Is Facebook building a car, too? According to a story published by CNBC, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, stated at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017 that the company was “…the only company in Silicon Valley not building a car.”   Anything can change in the world of technology, however. In the meantime, Facebook may be changing how consumers interact on a daily basis. By creating a wearable device that can work with a pair of glasses, calls, emails and other activities could be predicted with our wrists. The technology could possibly have implications beyond just glasses, too. Again, as technology evolves, the devices evolve, becoming more complex, insightful and adaptive to our habits and our lives. There is no exact timeline for many of these developing technologies. While robotaxis are servicing one city in the United States, there may be some time before they become adopted into all cities as a mainstream form of transportation. Like the robotaxi, Facebook’s wearable band may be the beginning of more complex technology. Who knows maybe in the future a wristband could interact with the car. Perhaps augmented reality wristbands interact with our home, too. While the future is a question mark when it comes to technology, augmented reality and virtual reality may become a big part of our future world.

Categories: Augmented Reality
How the Computer Chip Shortage Affects the Automotive Market

How the Computer Chip Shortage Affects the Automotive Market

May 21, 2021

The United States has a computer chip shortage, and, according to experts, it’s not likely to get much better for a few years. How has the tiny computer chip become a thorn in the side of multiple industries, including automotive? According to CNN the shortage is related to several issues, all of which have created the perfect electronic storm. Low supply has been exacerbated by Covid; shutdowns likely contributed to the availability. However, CNN also reported the automobile manufacturers cut back on buying chips…while tech sectors might have embraced them (perhaps a bit like consumers embraced toilet paper). In addition, there have been trade sanctions on some companies in China, which also could have squeezed the supply. All these factors have led to a low supply that has translated into higher costs, and the consumer may be seeing higher prices, too. As automotive companies may be grappling with a low supply of the chips they need for the now computer-dominated car mechanics, the price on the sticker might reflect this supply/demand dynamic. How the Computer Chip Shortage Affects the Automotive Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Is-Automotive-the-Only-Industry-Affected.jpg] IS AUTOMOTIVE THE ONLY INDUSTRY AFFECTED? While CNN noted that the issue of the shortage had primarily affected the automotive industry, now it has trickled down to other sectors. We live in a smart world, and consumers own a LOT of smart products. Those shopping for new products that are reliant on the brains of a computer—or more directly, a computer chip—might find that the prices could be higher on appliances and other goods. Even modern refrigerators feature smart screens and other advanced features that rely on computer technology. Even Fido the family dog could be affected by the chip shortage. According to The Washington Post, high-tech dog washing stations might be feeling the electrical burn of the chip shortage. Other options were procured to keep the production running on the stations, according to the Post, but those alternatives were pricier as using a different chip required changing other aspects of the mechanics. While automotive isn’t the only manufacturing sector affected, it is being hit extremely hard. Automobiles feature complicated mechanics and computerized systems, and some models are much more tech-savvy than others. Fox2 in Detroit reported that Fiat-Chrysler actually had to announce a month-long shutdown of a minivan plant because of the shortage. Other manufacturers also had to cease production. The mechanics of a vehicle are complicated, and, as Fox2 reported, some vehicles require about a dozen computer chips. The demand of the automotive industry on the computer chip is staggering. Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant produces more than 460,000 vehicles each year; divided up over each month, that’s nearly 40,000 cars…representing nearly half a million chips every month! Multiply that over all the other manufacturer’s plants across the United States, and it becomes clear why the automotive industry has been hit so hard by the shortage. WHEN WILL IT END? Consumers likely remember a lot of shortages during Covid, particularly toilet paper. While the supply eventually caught up with demand—and people stopped hoarding—it took some time for the supply chain to fully recover and match the consumer’s needs. Auto Blog published a story detailing how President Biden’s infrastructure plan may help the shortage; Biden was encouraging U.S. companies to boost production of chips nationally. A new infrastructure plan could infuse $50 billion into the industry to help grow production of the chips. Back in February (2021), Reuters reported that Biden sought $37 billion to help the microchip shortage and stimulate U.S. production; the blog also reported that he signed an Executive Order urging action related to the shortage. Unfortunately, the shortage may be continuing beyond 2021. In an interview with Lesley Stahl for CBS News, Intel’s CEO Paul Gelsinger explained that it may take some time for supply and demand to be a bit more balanced. “I think we have a couple of years until we catch up to this surging demand across every aspect of the business,” said Gelsinger in the interview with Stahl. How the Computer Chip Shortage Affects the Automotive Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Shopping-for-a-Car-During-the-Chip-Crisis.jpg] SHOPPING FOR A CAR DURING THE CHIP CRISIS With car production shutting down in some areas because of the chip supply issues, consumers may wonder what they may face when shopping for a car. Detroit News reported that manufacturers may produce fewer vehicles—by the millions (2.5 million!). Less supply could be an issue if more consumers are on the hunt for a new car. If demand for new vehicles exceeds supply, then prices could reflect this imbalance. While manufacturers are primarily being hit with the full force of the shortage, that little chip could chip away at consumers’ pockets too. Car prices can vary wildly already between makes and models. Consumers shopping for a new car should be mindful of the chip shortage and may need to hunt for deals. For many consumers, though, car shopping may already begin at home (especially during Covid). To prepare for a trip to the dealership and to ward off any sticker shock, consumers may want to visit dealers’ web sites to price popular vehicles and understand what rebates, deals and incentives are currently offered. Some consumers, however, may have no idea what car they want or need. In that case, online virtual or augmented reality showrooms could help to sort through many different options. Some manufacturers or dealerships offer their own virtual or augmented reality showrooms. However, RelayCars can be accessed by consumers online; RelayCars also offers both augmented reality and virtual reality apps. RelayCars’ virtual reality app can be accessed with or without a headset. The virtual reality showroom offers an array of different makes and models from many different years (beneficial for those on the hunt for a pre-owned automobile). The augmented reality app allows consumers to bring a vehicle into the user’s environment; cars can be viewed in a living room, outside or even in the garage. These experiences help consumers filter out their vehicle preferences. By viewing different vehicles in a remote or augmented reality space, consumers can gather basic information about their favorite vehicles. Then they can narrow down their wish list to a few models and begin to research prices and different promotions offered by local dealerships. HOW WILL THE CHIP CRISIS IMPACT THE NEW CAR SELECTION? Even those who use the internet and its vast resources to narrow down their vehicle choices to their most favorite models could be in for a rude awakening at the dealership. USA Today reported on the microchip crisis in April 2021 and explained that consumers might be unable to purchase the car of their dreams, because it might not be available. Instead, consumers could wind up buying a different vehicle…perhaps a model that isn’t so tech savvy. Of course, while the consumer may find their choices lacking at the dealerships, the biggest loser of the chip crisis is likely going to be the automobile industry as a whole. USA Today reported that industry anticipates seeing sales drop by $60 billion…just in the first half of 2021. For consumers who find their selection limited at the dealership, the chip crisis may force them to compromise on what they want. However, consumers also could consider buying a used car that offers the technology that they desire. USED CARS WILL BE AFFECTED, TOO! Shopping for a used car could be one way that consumers dodge the availability issues during the chip crisis. However, USA Today reported in a separate story that used car prices are rising, too. Consumers looking into the used market for an older version of their dream car might see higher prices. USA Today noted that while the prices are higher, consumers who are trading in their vehicles may see a higher trade-in value. As demand increases, supply needs to keep up. In the used car market, the suppliers are often the consumers! While the price of a new car could be higher, those with trade-ins could balance the higher price with a better trade-in value. MAKE A LIST AND HAVE A BACK-UP Shopping during the chip crisis could become a bit more complicated. While consumers could have no issue finding their favorite car, those looking for high-end features could see few options. When researching online, consumers might want to make a car wish list complete with backup options, just in case their ideal model isn’t available. Shopping the used market also could provide more options, but, again, prices could be higher because of the crisis. Consumers should be armed with information related to any dealer promotions, incentives or other deals. Of course, a higher down payment also could help lower the monthly payments (although not every consumer has the ability to come to the table with a large down payment). Eventually supply will catch up to demand and the industry will recover. However, consumers should be prepared for the chip crisis to continue for a while longer. Research car choices online before heading to a dealership, then review the dealerships web site to understand model availability. Come to the dealership prepared with backup options in case that dream car is nowhere to be found on the lot.

Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky?

Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky?

May 19, 2021

Augmented reality and virtual reality are playing larger and larger roles in our daily lives and branching into just about every industry under the sun, often with spectacularly successful results. Businesses and advertisers in particular are utilizing AR and VR technology in order to better connect with consumers, creating more dynamic and engaging experiences on websites. However, there is a question right now as to whether or not it is too risky to incorporate AR and VR into e-commerce sites due to the fact that online shoppers are in need of enhanced security while making purchases on the internet. Sources show that around 1.8 billion people around the world do at least a portion of their shopping online, and that figure has only grown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, where most consumers around the world had to resort to online shopping amidst a vast global shutdown. As a matter of fact, during March of 2020 42% of the US population did their shopping online, a number that was double from the same time in 2018. A whopping 85% of customers around the globe have made at least one online purchase at some point in their life. Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/E-Commerce.jpg] E-COMMERCE: WHY MESS UP A GOOD THING? If your e-commerce site is running well and your customers have good things to say about your secure purchasing process online, then maybe you’re wondering why you would even entertain the idea of incorporating AR or VR technology into your e-commerce site/business. However, you could be missing out on having your site and services stand out among the rest of the noise.  AR and VR technology are synonymous with top-of-the-line — so any visitor who uses your site will notice this right off the bat, giving your site a certain level of authority and credibility that a more basic e-commerce site simply isn’t going to be able to match.  If you do incorporate AR or VR into your site and people are going to be making purchases on your site, you’re going to want to make sure that you double-down on your security measures as a result. You don’t want to learn the hard way when it comes to security breaches.  There are a number of ways that your e-commerce site and network can be compromised due to security threats, which can come in the form of malware, phishing, scams, hacking, and more. The Internet is a markedly unsafe place — when it comes to your e-commerce site  browser security, site security, and network security are crucial. AR/VR AND E-COMMERCE E-commerce businesses and websites are trying to bridge the gap between online and brick-and-mortar shopping, and augmented reality and virtual reality are avenues that give them the power to do just that. Virtual reality is being used by online sellers to create more of an in-store experience, not to mention help consumers visualize how a product can be used or how it will look in their home. Down the road, VR aims to create a completely immersive and sensory experience, incorporating sight, audio, smell, touch, and even taste. Augmented reality is used to add outside elements onto an existing environment. In the e-commerce world, augmented reality helps users interact with products in order to increase buying confidence. AR and VR are helping bring products and e-commerce businesses to life… right before the consumer’s eyes! However, AR and VR can open certain doors that can be exploited by hackers and other compromises in security. With new technology springs new surfaces of attack. One upside of AR and VR is that they offer very few new attack surfaces, since they both predominantly operate off of existing platforms. AR and VR can operate on the computers, consoles, and mobile devices we already use, AR/VR tracking software can be used without internet connection in many cases — which means that this technology doesn’t necessarily pose any greater risk than any other kind of software, perhaps even so than, say, the average network connected video game. Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Online-Security-and-E-Commerce.jpg] ONLINE SECURITY AND E-COMMERCE Online security is of crucial importance for any business, and e-commerce businesses need to take every precaution available to protect themselves and those who make purchases on their site. In 2018 alone, over 32% of all online attacks happened to online businesses. Make sure to protect the trust of your customers’ by taking a few e-commerce security measures which include: * Integrity * Privacy * Effective Authentication * Non-Repudiation Integrity is important in order to ensure that any piece of information your customers enter on your site remains incorrupt and unchangeable. The altering of any information your customer enters will result in a loss of trust. Privacy is of obvious importance, which includes the prevention of any sort of activity that involves the sharing of customer information with third parties that have not been authorized. At the very least, every online business should have anti-virus protection, firewall, encryption, as well as additional data protection. Authentication is important in order to ensure both parties are real, which will help ensure that both parties deliver what they promise to. Since e-commerce transactions occur on the internet and not in person, it’s important to ensure that both parties hold up their end of the transaction, and non-repudiation is essential in finalizing the sale. Non-repudiation adds a layer of protection for the seller and the buyer to ensure that both parties are 100% satisfied with the business transaction. TREADING LIGHTLY WITH AR/VR AND E-COMMERCE Now that the global pandemic is starting to subside in many areas of the world, customers are changing their behaviors and over 75% of customers have shifted brand loyalty during this time of global pandemic. This creates a unique opportunity for smaller brands and e-commerce businesses to stake their claim and convert consumers to their respective brands.  Customers have a new set of expectations when shopping online. Now, many consumers expect to get a clear picture of what they’re purchasing ahead of time, and without even stepping foot into a brick and mortar location in order to make such findings. Larger online retailers like IKEA and Gucci can easily make the shift into incorporating AR into their online shopping experience with very little risk, while smaller businesses might be rolling the dice trying to capitalize on changing customer expectations and shopping preferences. Many small businesses do not see the appeal in jeopardizing an already seamless shopping experience they’ve worked so tirelessly to create. However, failing to address a new customer need could have an online store failing to experience new growth and connect with new customers. Ideally, e-commerce sites will be able to incorporate AR and VR technology into their online purchasing experience without disrupting the sales process. Remember that AR and VR can both be used as part of the sales funnel, which will help inspire new and existing customers to make a purchase. You will want to make sure that your process, from start to finish, is quick and easy. Google asserts that for every one second page load delay, 20% of customers leave the site. Striking the right balance between functionality and familiarity is crucial in crafting a successful online shopping experience. Is Integrating Augmented Reality into E-Commerce Sites Too Risky? [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Know-Thy-Audience.jpg] KNOW THY AUDIENCE Taking the time to correctly identify your target audience is also incredibly important when deciding whether or not to incorporate AR and VR technology into your ecommerce site. If your target audience is younger and more tech savvy, then you are going to want to consider accommodating those sorts of needs and expectations. However, if your target audience is more advanced in age and less familiar with the latest technology, you might want to consider keeping your online sales process as simple and easy as possible. Credibility is extremely important as customer loyalty trends continue to shift during these uncertain times. As uncertain as the times may be, your e-commerce site has the ability to provide continuity and consistency, which consumers put a lot of stock in these days. If your brand/business can weather the storm and provide your products and/or services without faltering, even in the online world, then that is going to increase your authority, credibility, and your relevance. Making the decision to incorporate AR/VR into your online purchasing experience might also simply come down to money. Incorporating augmented reality and virtual reality into a website can be quite expensive, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Integrating AR and VR into your e-commerce site might cost more money than you’re willing to put up, especially if the return on investment isn’t very convincing. At the end of the day, it’s an important decision to make. If you do decide to incorporate AR and VR into your e-commerce site, it’s a good idea to do your research, have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish (keeping the customer experience in mind, of course), and execute a well-made plan to ensure everything happens in a timely and productive manner. Keeping in mind some e-commerce fundamentals mentioned above will help ensure that you make the right decision for your e-commerce brand/business.