How to Crush It with Immersive Technologies

While there are billions of web pages describing VR/AR technologies, it may be challenging to choose the truly informative article. This is particularly important for companies that intend to implement immersive technologies as a part of their business. How is it possible to make VR/AR technologies work for your enterprise? Is it profitable? What are the specificities of VR/AR? At the starting point of your journey, hundreds of questions emerge, and that’s absolutely normal. Yet, don’t hurry with googling the answers because we’ve already made that for you. By mixing our deep knowledge with relevant informational resources, we created a best-in-class guide to help you keep up with modern technologies. Ready, set… Let’s crush it together!

What Is VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality)?

We can’t be any more clear about this: VR & AR in the words of experts.

Virtual Reality

“Virtual reality is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and, while there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.”

Virtual Reality Society

Augmented Reality

“AR can work in several different ways and is used for many different reasons, but in most cases, AR involves a scenario where virtual objects are overlaid and tracked above real, physical objects to create the illusion that they’re in the same space. AR devices have a display, input device, sensor, and processor. This can be accomplished through smartphones, monitors, head-mounted displays, eyeglasses, contact lenses, gaming consoles, and more. Sound and touch feedback can be included in an AR system as well.”

– Online tech magazine, Lifewire

VR vs. AR: What Is the Difference Between the Two?

VR replaces your reality and creates the sensation of being surrounded by a new environment or world, while AR overlays digital elements and information to enhance your existing environment.

What You Need to Know about VR

1. Virtual Reality results in:

  • Prolonged interaction with the app/project;
  • Extended discovery of the surrounding space (instead of jumping around that happens on the internet);
  • Deep connection with what is interacted with in the VR project, viewing it as an experience rather than just information;
  • Lack of distractions due to being fully immersed. This enables the user to be fully present.

2. Virtual reality creates engagement:

  • There is a desire to genuinely explore the environment. (Users are less likely to switch to something else quickly);
  • Because of the level of immersion that VR creates, the user feels strong emotional reactions and engagement with the content. (Much like a good movie or book);
  • The user has the feeling of having actually ‘been there’ in the environment created rather than just having ‘seen it.’ This is often called Embodied Presence, as users will be left with a memory of physically experiencing something. (Different from a movie where one feels more like they saw a new place rather than traveled to a new location);

3. Virtual Reality Compared to Web and Mobile Experiences

Below is a chart by Dr. Pete Markiewicz from his talk on “Sustainable UX in VR

4. What Is Total Immersion in VR?

Total Immersion in VR is the sense of being physically present in a non-physical world. By combining sensory perceptions with visual stimuli, the human mind can be given the feeling of being fully present in the simulated world.

To achieve total immersion, latency and movement tracking must be considered to help the user feel like they are genuinely in the virtual world. Interested? Then, stay with us and read more about this in the following sections.

Creating a Virtual Reality Experience: Detailed Guide on the Basics

1. What are the different types of VR?

Mobile VR

Mobile VR is the ability to connect your phone to a headset device in order to create a VR viewing experience. This is an excellent tool if you are trying to make an experience that anyone who has a smartphone can enjoy.

It is an entry-level option because headsets start as low as $15. The Oculus go is priced around $200 and does not use a mobile phone. It is standalone and very user-friendly, and users can unbox and get started right away.

A big PRO of this technology is that it’s accessible to many users. A CON is that the experience has limitations as far as this tech goes, such as image quality/processing power and degrees of freedom for the user.

Desktop VR

Desktop VR needs a PC system to run the experiences. With the higher processing power of a computer, the experiences are able to have a higher level of information being processed, so users can have more freedom with their movements, which can lead to a higher level of immersion. Typically Desktop VR has full “room-scale” tracking, enabling a user to walk around and interact with the experience in a more immersive way.

Desktop VR is a higher price point for entry because it requires a computer with ample processing power. Additionally, the price of these headsets is higher than mobile VR. However, as the technology progresses, price points continually decrease, making it more accessible to consumers.

2. The DO’s & DON’ts for Designing in VR

Virtual reality plugs into users’ brains on an instinctual level. That’s why it’s essential to take care when planning experiences.

If one is not careful, the user may leave the experience feeling physically ill as well as emotionally unwell. For first-time users of VR, it can be a break moment, which will negatively influence the following experiences.

Beyond creating high-quality visual content that doesn’t make your user feel sick, it is also crucial to create an experience that implements good storytelling and engaging content so that the users won’t be bored.

3. Different Types of VR Experiences and Their Marketing Capabilities

Hyper immersive – emotional

Emotional experiences can create lasting memories for the users because they feel like they were actually there in an artificial world.

In an emotional experience, you may be transported to other worlds that you can control and manipulate to some degree or do things that you cannot do in waking reality, like flying or throwing thunderbolts from your fingers.

Pov-educational live action

This type of experience takes you to places you haven’t been and allows you to experience events “first hand.

An example of this type of experience is to create an outer space landscape or capture far-off lands and enable the user to visit them from the comfort of their own home.

Games

Typically, when users think of VR, gaming is the leading case they think of it being used for. Gaming experiences can be very effective because they keep the user engaged and coming back for multiple sessions.

Passive Experiences

Although it may be tempting to copy the exact template of traditional marketing through videos over to VR, completely passive experiences where the user is just viewing the space they are in rather than having some level of interaction are not recommended.

As mentioned above, once the novelty of being in VR wears off, the user can become bored or disinterested if the experience is just leading them rather than the user being able to lead and guide the experience themselves. For this reason, passive experiences are harder to monetize because users will be less likely to stay engaged with them.

4. Design Considerations in VR

Motion Sickness: What to Avoid

  • Do not interrupt or interfere with the user’s gaze.
  • Camera motions should be user-initiated – not from external forces forcing motion.
  • Latency – make sure that there is low latency in the experience. If the scene is not keeping up with the user’s head movements, the user will feel ill, and their equilibrium will be thrown off.
  • Framerate – “Studies have shown that in practice, any VR setup that generates frame rates below 90 frames per second (FPS) is likely to induce disorientation, nausea, and other negative user effects. The lower the frame rate, the worse the effects. Thus, the goal for VR developers is to target 90 FPS at all times in their software.” (IrisVR)
  • Teleportation – or sudden scene shifts can be jarring if done too quickly, try to ease the user into a movement with smooth teleportation or fading in and out of scenes. Users need time to adjust to the new scenes as well, so make sure they have time to get an orientation of the new space before bombarding them with information.
  • Sudden motion from an object towards the user can also be frightening if unexpected, try to avoid this as much as possible.

Proprioception and Virtual Embodiment

  • “Proprioception is a constant feedback loop within your nervous system, telling your brain what position you are in and what forces are acting upon your body at any given point in time. The way that we can tell that an arm is raised above our head, even when our eyes are closed, is an example of proprioception.” (VeryWell Health)
  • Proprioception can be thrown off by VR if the user’s body is doing something different from what the VR experience is telling them that their body is doing. Therefore it’s a good idea to match the physical state of the user in the experience (standing, sitting, biking).
  • Using elements and characteristics like distance and height can encourage interaction and movement and help users feel more engaged.

Using the Canvas Appropriately

The canvas that you are working on within VR is spherical and organic, so it’s advisable to work with that instead of against it. Keep high-priority information centered in FOV (field of vision) and push secondary information out into the periphery. Having elements in the periphery gives users a reason to look around and explore the space.

  • Elements should scale and move depending on head positioning.
  • Draw indicators can be used to suggest how users look/move through the space. They should be placed at the same depth as the object they are targeting.

Avoid Fixed Elements

  • Having elements fixed on the screen may break immersion and cause discomfort for the user. It is better to have the elements embedded in the world you have created as they would be in the real world.
  • For example, if you have information to share with the user, try having it on a sign that they can “walk up to” and examine rather than appear two-dimensionally on their screen in a fixed way.
  • This can also be applied to text in VR – avoid static text and instead use animated text to catch the users attention.

The Deeper the Immersion, the More Fragile the Illusion

  • The more immersed a user feels in the experience, the more fragile it all becomes.
  • One can tend to think that more realistic images are better, but in VR that isn’t always the case.

5. Realistic vs. Abstract Visual Design in VR

6. Audio in VR

Engaging as many senses as possible in VR will lead to deeper levels of immersion. Audio is a great way to help the user feel like the world they are immersed in is ‘real.’ This is known as verisimilitude (the appearance of being true or real: “the detail gives the novel some verisimilitude”.)

Audio feedback elements are used when someone interacts with a component in your experience – having it make a sound after interaction can be a great way to guide and delight a user.

Similarly, audio can be used to guide a user’s attention to certain aspects of the experience that you want them to interact with.

Use spatial audio design – having the audio coming from 360 degrees makes the experience more immersive and can replace some level of tactile feedback.

7. VR/AR Development Tools to Check Out

  • Unreal Engine
  • Unity 3D
  • Sketchy – VR prototyping combo
  • Sketch to VR
  • Storyboard VR
  • A-frame (for webVR)
  • Torch 3D – AR Prototyping tool of iOS

What You Need to Know about AR

The pace in which Augmented Reality technology and applications are created has dramatically sped up over the past few years thanks to the prevalence of smartphones. At this point, many people have the technology needed to experience an augmented reality application in the palm of their hands.

Augmented Reality will increase in prevalence once it goes from just a novel gimmick to an efficient tool in everyday use – helping the user with their daily tasks.

The rise of AR is predicted to eventually replace smartphones.

Let’s Take a Look Inside

“Microsoft’s augmented-reality goggles merge the physical world with virtual reality.”

Jason Kehe

While most AR headsets typically look like futuristic devices from science fiction, most users wonder how they actually work. Therefore, we propose you explore the inner world of the AR headset.

1. Camera

The Project HoloLens depth camera has a field of vision that spans 120 by 120 degrees, far more than the original Kinect, while drawing only a fraction of the power.

2. Computer

As many as 18 sensors flood the brain of the device with terabytes of data every second. It handles the onslaught with an onboard CPU, GPU, and first-of-its-kind HPU (holographic processing unit).

3. Lenses

To trick your brain into perceiving holographic images at certain make-believe distances, light particles bounce around millions of times in the so-called light engine. Then the photons enter the two lenses (one for each eye), where they ricochet some more between layers of blue, green, and red glass before finally hitting the back of your eye.

4. Vent

The device is more powerful than a laptop but won’t overheat – warm air flows to the sides, where it vents up and out.

Info source: Wired

1. Gestures

Engineers are fine-tuning a feature called “holding” that would allow you to grasp and manipulate holographic objects. Opening your hand would take you back to a home screen.

2. Voice

Microphones in the device capture voice commands.

3. Gaze

Sensors track where the wearer is looking and adjust the display.

Info source: Wired

How It Is Used

1. Holograms

The device can project a hologram into a room and keep it locked in position – an essential feature its engineers call “pinning.” Instead of the object moving relative to you, you can move around the object and view it from any angle. In the case of this holographic raptor, that means it’s easy to stay just beyond its scary reach.

Info source: Wired

2. Virtual Environments

Project HoloLens can simulate a physical space – like the surface of Mars, complete with the Curiosity rover. Once inside the environment, scientists can interact with objects and overlay the space with virtual flags. For example: Placing a flag in the distance could, theoretically, tell the real rover to go there and collect a soil sample.

Info source: Wired

3. Augmented Reality

The device scans your environment and builds a digital model in real time. Then, if you are playing a game, a character from the game can frolic as a hologram around your living room. Project HoloLens not only knows the couch is there, it also sees that it’s made of leather – and is much cushier than, say, your wood floor.

Info source: Wired

AR Can Be Used as:

  • A way to learn new information – Education is a significant sector in which AR can significantly improve our current systems. Moving away from textbooks and towards more interactive, animated, engaging ways of learning – the world surrounding us becomes the classroom.
  • A way to access information – With an ever-growing surplus of information floating out in the IoT (Internet of Things), AR could provide a valuable solution for visualizing and compartmentalizing information for better understanding. Whether it’s for training purposes in jobs or personal health training and development, having the plethora of information at your fingertips is sure to be a valuable asset.
  • A new way to interact with your surrounding environment.

How AR works

Augmented Reality uses “trigger points” in the real world to overlay generated objects and information in the applications.

Examples of possible trigger points include – Facial Recognition, GPS/location, Image/shape Recognition, AR Tags, and QR codes.

The Potential of Augmented Reality

1. New Product Development

Thanks to outstanding representative capabilities, AR can help employees develop new products together more efficiently. The real-time AR effects with 3D renderings significantly ease communication between different workers and departments during the product development phase.

2. Marketing Testing

With the virtual life-like representation of the future product, the company can understand customers’ feedback faster and, if necessary, amend it.

3. New Product Commercialization

Due to augmented reality, potential buyers can better understand product usage in advance. Moreover, they can acquire more information about the product while using smart devices to scan specific media (e.g., magazine pages, QR codes, posters, etc.).

4. Product Usage

AR allows gaining new knowledge in an engaging way. At the same time, it can bring more fun to playing games. After all, there is no doubt that AR products are a perfect solution for those who need to explore their surroundings (e.g., tourist attractions, recommended restaurants, best-in-class hotels, shopping discounts, etc.) more efficiently.

The Future of VR & AR

Predictions of where this industry will take us.

These technologies are continually growing and are expected to be a booming industry in the near future.

The State of VR now is said to be similar to the state of the mobile phone 15 years ago.

  • According to Statista, “the global augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) market is forecast to reach 30.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, rising to close to 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2024. What’s more, AR and VR headsets are projected to have massive sales of over 30 million units annually by the end of 2023.”
  • As reported by IDC, “China is projected to have the most substantial AR/VR spending worldwide in 2024.”
  • Finances Online states that “VR video gaming revenues will reach $2.4B in 2024.”

Where to Go from Here

“91% of business organizations are already leveraging or planning to adopt VR or AR technology.”

TechRepublic

Now IS the time to start creating VR & AR experiences.

Are you ready to take your marketing efforts to the next level? VR and AR could be the tools to do just that.

We hope that this guide has laid a good foundation of understanding to begin your projects! If you still have more questions or are wondering where to begin, we are available for project consultation, proof of concept builds, and we can come into your company to create an Immersive Tech Implementation play.

We are here for you every step of the way!

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