Over the Winter Quarter, our Technology and Innovation Strategy class at Kellogg culminated in a final research paper. The paper looked at the shuttering of Google Glass and what Google’s next steps should be. As part of this, I got to look deeply into the current state of Virtual Reality, which I have been following and waiting for (hello Oculus!) since I was a child, and Augmented Reality. I will be posting portions of the paper (it’s quite long) in digestible chunks here over the next week. Our team was comprised of Melissa Caldwell, Raghu Chirravuri, Olga Gordon, Jeff Hoffman, and me, Michael Nguyen.
To see all of the sections, see my tag virtual reality.
Consumer Adoption of AR and VR
AR and VR are gaining adoption and becoming more standard, with consumers getting more exposure to them in day-to-day life, particularly in retail, education and entertainment industries. By layering information onto existing objects or creating virtual environments, they provide consumers with richer, context-specific information in 3 dimensions.
Technologies are now available that make it possible for grocery shoppers to scan aisles with their smartphones or other AR devices to quickly identify products that are on sale or address certain dietary requirements and preferences. Layering this information onto existing physical stores helps customers efficiently browse and purchase products. In some cases, AR is not layered onto a physical store but onto a blank wall. Yihaodian, a leading Chinese e-commerce grocer, launched 1,000 virtual stores overnight to compete against its brick-and-mortar rivals with experiences that allow customers to walk around in the virtual stores and make purchases that are delivered directly to homes. Similarly, several fashion retailers are using AR “magic mirrors” to allow their customers to “try on” clothes, jewelry or shoes and help customers decide which clothes or accessories to buy without having to actually stock the items.
In education, AR and VR are being used to embed content into text and real world objects, allowing for visualization of 3D models and interaction within historical events, as well as remote collaboration. In higher education, AR and VR allow students to learn mechanical engineering concepts, math or geometry through 3D models that help them visualize spatial structures and interact with virtual models.
Learning via remote collaboration is another major use case for education; students and instructors at different physical locations can share a common virtual environment populated by virtual objects and learning materials. These technologies allow students to interact with objects in topics like astronomy, biology and medicine that would otherwise be inaccessible.
AR and VR have also been adopted by media companies to provide a more immersive entertainment experience. For example, AR is currently being used to create interactive movie posters and to embed content into movies that can be accessed through smartphones or other AR devices. At the same time, work is being done to create fully immersive 3D movies delivered through VR headsets. AR technologies allow gamers to experience digital game play in a real world environment, where movement detection allows players to interact with objects within the game using gestures and eye movement. VR systems like Oculus Rift create an immersive gaming experience where the user is placed into the game environment, opening up innovative content delivery prospects.
Enterprise Adoption of AR and VR
AR and VR also have the potential to change the way that many businesses function due to the technologies’ abilities to immersively simulate varied situations and conditions, particularly in industries such as the military, medicine, and automotive design and manufacturing.
The military has integrated these technologies more than any other industry across different use cases. One of the military’s primary applications of VR has been in training. Formerly, training would consist of physical simulations and crude recreations, but VR has provided a much more accurate, immersive version of what it actually feels like to be on a mission. VR can also be utilized to simulate controlling drones so that training runs are as close as possible to the experience of when a drone is actually deployed.
AR and VR have also seen traction in the healthcare industry, as a number of implementations could improve patient care and make doctors’ jobs easier. From allowing doctors to quickly source and project medical histories, to lenses that allow them to see through a patient’s skin and identify veins, making it easier to place IVs correctly; hospitals were among the most loyal adopters of glass.
AR can also be utilized during surgery. AR-implemented glasses (such as Google Glass) allow surgeons to record accurate representations of their work hands-free. They can stream video of surgeries around the world, allowing remote doctors to offer advice on difficult procedures. Information overlays will be extremely useful in the future, as the steps of a given procedure could be presented unobtrusively through a surgeon’s line of sight.
As the automotive industry has historically been on the cutting edge of technology, it is no surprise to see that the biggest firms are leveraging early forms for AR and VR to help design, test, and manufacture new products. Ford has already partnered with Oculus, utilizing VR to rapidly design and prototype new cars. The headset allows engineers and designers to virtually enter the car and evaluate its design more practically than a 3D model on a computer or small-scale mock-up.
Despite these exciting ventures, there are still a wealth of implementations not yet explored. For example, AR could be leveraged to help with manufacturing, increasing the complexity of products while decreasing the amount of focus and time commitment needed per-employee. During the manufacturing process, a projection could be displayed over two components to show how they properly fit together. Assembly and disassembly processes could also become easier as step-by-step instructions could be overlayed on a given product, making it easier to understand the order in which to proceed. In addition, videos could be presented to the employees unobtrusively when text instructions may not suffice. Further uses include the ability to use VR to allow engineers to see inside of components to understand how they really work and are constructed.