Virtual or Augmented Reality as the next digital channel?


Nobody could possible not have noticed the recent success of Pokemon Go and some have even claimed it could be the breakthrough of Augmented Reality. 


The term Augmented Reality (AR) refers to digital interactions in a real life environment and its applicability goes far beyond mobile games. One of the most prominent examples (apart from Pokemon Go) is Microsoft Hololenses which is an advanced headset able to project digital 3D animations and objects in real life environments. AR-headsets provide new opportunities for entertainment (movies, games etc.), communication and most importantly - as a tool at the work place. It may for instance be used for project planning, architecture or visual demonstrations.

More advanced AI glasses such as the Hololens can also have vast impact for the society and consumers. Companies, governments and people can for instance utilise gps position and environments to display their messages with AR instead of physical billboards. Imagine approaching a bus stop which immediately tells you with big digital letters when the next bus arrives, passing a store and see the promotions on the street outside or sitting at a restaurant which displays a hovering menu at the table.


But will more advanced AR-headsets ever reach the mainstream consumer similarly to smartphone apps such as Pokemon Go? Perhaps not. The smartphone evolutionary evolved from the cellphone, which further evolved from the pager and telephone.  On the other hand, AR-headsets require us to change the fundamental way we interact and behave with our digital tools. At the moment, the devices are also extremely expensive and not to forget – is the mainstream consumer ready for more mobile tools apart from the smartphone and is the benefit perceived sufficient? Iphone Watch limited success may give us a hint.


Perhaps a more likely breakthrough in the near future is Virtual Reality which is already part of Facebook-, Sony Playstation- and Googles' ecosystems. The strong belief in VR from investors and leading internet giants seems unstoppable despite the fact that the technology is yet far from mainstream with expensive headsets and lack of useful apps. Oculus rift and HTC vive are the most prominent high-end VR devices today but Samsung already offers simpler VR compatibility with its new phones and VR gadgets. Moreover, VR can accelerate the resolution improvements for mobile phones such as 4k support which is also in progress. Games and Movies are the most apparent examples where consumer breakthrough is on the horizon. There is also strong reason to believe that VR may become the next big channel as it is adopted into more industries where some companies have  started to use VR to innovate new ways to interact with customers. For example; IKEA kitchen which allows you to walk around in any of their featured kitchen or Alibaba's virtual shopping. In near future, you may be able to inspect a new house, see how a new apartment block will look like or experience that special travel destination online in the virtual world.



Until now, VR and AR hardware have been developed as two separate devices but future headsets will most likely be capable of both features. Google is currently working on such a headset and with further technological improvements, the first consumer version can arrive the next year. JP Morgan Securities said the global virtual-reality (VR) market could reach US$13.5 billion by 2020, more than a four-fold increase from this year’s US$2.54 billion. Platforms for VR content are expanding rapidly with both Facebook, Google and Samsung. New more affordable hardware is also arriving later this year with new realises of Playstation VR and VR capable smartphones. VR may therefore go from a device for entusiasts to an integral part of a family's ecosystem of devices - just like the TV or Tablet.

Contact Cartina to learn more about VR/AR or experience a demonstration of VR at our office at Hamngatan 15.

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