The incredible technology that is so rapidly developing in today’s digital world is hard to keep track of. Yet, you need to, as it brings amazing opportunities to brands and mobile app developers alike. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two of the most exciting features out there today, and can propel your brand into viral-level success. If you choose to adopt either or both of these technologies in your next mobile app, you should understand what each has to offer, and how they can work for you.
While VR has been around for quite a while, its technology and utility has grown exponentially over the last few years. The ability to fully immerse yourself in an alternate world visually and audibly is incredible on its own merit, to be sure. People have been using VR for gaming and experiential enjoyment for years, but its applications are expanding into endless corners of the digital business world.
The bare essentials for a modern-day VR experience involve some sort of headset, like goggles or a sort of helmet, which give you the capability to look around in all directions – up, down, and 360 degrees around you. Basic capabilities simply give you this visual ability to “see” where you are. Now, as technology has advanced, motion sensors have given these VR users the ability to manipulate this setting using their body, limbs, and hands as tools. Traditionally, this sort of powerful technology required a tethered headset that connected to a relatively large computer for the massive amount of processing necessary. Recently released VR bundles use either a wireless system or a smartphone’s camera and GPS features to accomplish this.
Virtual reality in its current incarnation offers mind-blowing virtual worlds to experience and navigate. We’ll talk about all the potential applications for various sectors later on in this post.
The major difference between virtual and augmented reality is the perspective. While virtual reality immerses you in a total digital world, augmented reality allows you to experience various digital presences while looking at your actual surroundings. For example, you could take your kids to an area with fossilized dinosaur footprints. When you explore the area through the camera on your phone or tablet, active dinosaur holograms spring to life on the existing landscape, and they move, feed, and roar accordingly. The most well-known application of this technology is the wildly popular Pokemon Go, where players can locate and capture characters while walking around their neighborhood. This viral sensation introduced the world to augmented reality, and all the ways it can be applied.
One of the main factors in the AR world is the ability of various devices to utilize this technology to its full extent. As we mentioned, newer smartphones and tablets are the most commonly used devices for AR apps, chiefly because of their GPS and advanced camera capabilities. Other devices include wearable eyewear, such as Google Glass; it’s necessary to be able to clearly see your surroundings before any augmented reality is implemented.
VR gives you the ability to fly like an eagle through the rooftops of Prague, walk through the Louvre from your living room, or explore a tropical coral reef for hours. Games allow you to fight from a World War II foxhole, battle aliens in a Mars outpost, and compete in an Olympic event. It’s clear that the entertainment sector is well represented today, but how else can VR be used in today’s digital business world?
Education is a leading sector. Students or avid learners can use these VR apps to learn human anatomy down to the cellular level or examine artwork minutely whenever they wish. Connected instructors can walk students through lessons and closely observe how they learn and perform. This can extend to vocational and technical training for endless occupations, as well.
Virtual marketplaces are another way that brands can use VR to their advantage. Letting a potential consumer “walk” through a showroom full of furniture, sit in and “drive” a car, or otherwise examine and evaluate merchandise is powerful marketing, indeed. Additionally, even the chance for customers to experience a great VR system can drum up business. If a brick-and-mortar business has VR capability, even if it’s just used for gaming or entertainment, it should attract everyday people into your store to check it out.
While AR isn’t quite the immersive experience that VR is, it actually offers more real-world utility for commerce in mobile apps. One of the biggest issues with eCommerce is that consumers aren’t able to visualize how certain items might look and fit in their actual homes. Furniture, kitchen cabinetry, or even housing additions can be projected through a device so the user can feel good about the purchase…and will likely lead to conversions.
Other applications include fashion and beauty, where a user can “try on” makeup or clothing to see how it looks on them. Ever-improving technology can be precise with existing color palettes and skin tones, in order to give the user a more accurate picture about the product.
There are infinite possibilities on how an app developer can incorporate VR and AR into their app. The important thing to realize, however, is that the mere presence of this technology is attractive to potential consumers. Yes, making these features work to promote your brand and its products is absolutely great. Just know that this technology is fun and still fairly novel and new to most people, and just having it on your app will drive traffic your way. Discuss these possibilities with your app development partner, and take advantage of what it has to offer.
Do you have any thoughts about VR and AR as it applies to app development? Share your insights with us on Twitter @Koombea because we’d love to hear from you!