Welcome back! In my last post on this topic, I explained the differences between Augmented Reality [AR] and Virtual Reality [VR] – if you haven’t read it, check it out here. This post will mainly be focusing on how these technologies are changing our interactions with those around us – both businesses and consumers alike.

The depiction of these technologies in such films as Tom Cruise’s Minority Report can make people think that it’s creepy and intrusive. However, as shown in Iron Man, these can both be used to allow people to be able to see concepts and assets without leaving their own living room. What’s great is the functionality of both of these techs provide uses to both businesses and consumers alike. From a social standpoint, consumers can now harness this tech to be able to talk and interact with friends, both real and virtual. This interaction can be anything from video games to social platforms like Second Life and, as Mark Zuckerberg explained recently, even Facebook may be delving into the realms of VR.

Mark Zuckerberg at Samsung's Virtual Reality Event in Barcelona
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, welcoming in the new era of Virtual Reality at a Samsung event in Barcelona (Feb, 2016).

All of this adds another level to the user experience, moving away from the usual consumption of these platforms which currently is primarily done through mobile and desktop.

Currently, the main issue regarding this revolves around up-take. The Oculus Rift prices out a lot of its potential audience at $599, whilst Google Glass’s price tag probably dissuades all those who aren’t die hard Google fans at $1,500. Likewise, as with all new technology, the scope of how far these technologies can stretch has not yet been discovered, and people aren’t willing to put up for an expensive, unfounded technology.

In contrast however, the business world – particularly that of health and security, has been particularly keen to explore the worlds of AR & VR with many functions being highlighted. Surgeons have touted the functionality of both VR and AR for education – training new doctors and surgeons, and practical uses such as being able to see when conducting an operation early on. Away from the emergency services, the world of retail has already dipped its toe in the virtual pool with various retailers, including IKEA and Converse, already trialling apps and in-store functions that could change the user shopping experience forever.

IKEA AR App
No more having to worry if that new sofa will fit with IKEA’s new AR app (via: Wired).

Overall, AR & VR technologies both offer incredible opportunities in both the consumer and business world. The scale of how far these can really go, has not yet been discovered with developers constantly stretching the extent of how far they can go.

Unfortunately for Mr Zuckerberg, although the new frontier of the social world may be entire virtual, the technology is expensive and beyond the realm of the everyday consumer currently. Businesses do however have an incredible opportunity to start to use this technology today and change the customer experience which, although may have a high initial spend, may mean big returns from an innovative experience.

One thing is for sure, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will both change how consumers and businesses will interact forever. Perhaps it won’t take the form of something as clunky as the headsets we currently associate with this technology, but one thing is for sure – the journey will really be something!

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