Let me first say I am an avid gamer and I have always seen VR as a distant future event. However, with the rapid acceleration and expansion of technology has brought the VR and AR augmented reality into the world that barely knows how to coexist with each other. Scrolling through the pages of Google, I learnt that Ivan Sutherland was credited with the inception of what we call VR & AR in 1960’s forever melding the physical and computer world together. In 1965 he wrote a paper that gave indications that AR was not going to be too far along. By 1968 the first headset was created. Now fast forward to this century what do we have?
Where are We Now
Today VR and AR are a common house hold words but not yet a familiar object. The reason for that is the technology despite being decades old the tech community still hasn’t gotten it down to the point were it loses all its wonder and spectacle as we mass produced it for profit, not saying its a bad thing because now cellphone are cheap and information is at our fingertips. Currently, there are a few models out for the market; the Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR. These cover all your gaming and entertainment needs for the whole family, and after trying it, I am going to wait a bit longer for something to jump out and grab me before I spend that type of money.
How has It Impacted Business
At present, industries have been making ample use of the technology in every area that will allow it. Within a couple of years, I have seen the various companies readjust in how they utilize VR & AR. Automotive traders gives test driving simulation providing consumers first hand, well first eye experience of operating vehicles, travel agencies can now show us rooms, hotels touristic location of any site they so desire, manufacturer companies could give tutorials to new workers on how to operate various machinery, etc.
The real interest for me is the possibilities of in-store applications. Brands like Tmall and Alibaba have already used this tech in China for e-commerce, it did add more to the experience of buying from your couch than just looking at a screen and tapping.
However, what can it do for the physical store most ideas AR I have seen so far revolve around gaming, navigation and product information while VR because of the requirement of an eye wear, it has been regulated to mirrors where consumers can try on different articles of clothing. As the technology progress it will become more interactive and move deeper into what we saw in science-fiction and don’t worry consumer are already waiting.
VR & AR are not Crouches
Let's be honest for a while, when we have something new we tend to put all our energy into the shiny toy and not take into account that we can’t only play with that one, retailers need to have a plan as to what they want their consumers to experience throughout their whole journey when they add VR or AR. Think of stores as a well-balanced ecosystem, adding something new doesn't mean that everything else is not as important, but it is a balancing act, each item(technology) added in-store plays a part of the whole experience. Having this mindset VR and AR will move from a shiny toy to a tool that will develop any consumers experience and translate into sales.
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