Atheer AR Insights: Enterprise Q&A with Kris Kolo, VRARA

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 2.03.34 PM.png

AR Insights: Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VR/AR Association

Our AR Insights interview this month is with Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VR/AR Association, an international organization of more than 4000 companies and 20,0000 individuals. It is designed to "foster collaboration between companies and people in the VR and AR ecosystem that accelerates growth, fosters research and education, helps develop industry standards, and connects and promotes member organizations". 

In this role, Kris has worked with organizations across the AR and VR sectors and has some unique perspectives to offer on the direction of these vital technologies - and how they are being applied in both the consumer and enterprise markets.

Prior to the VR/AR Association, Kris was in the business of working with AR and VR in commercial settings, as an entrepreneur, author and patent-holder. He was an executive at Verizon and Toys R Us, applying AR technology to common use cases. At Toys R Us, he worked on digital in-store initiatives and shopping solutions, incorporating AR from Metaio (acquired by Apple). 

At Verizon, Kris was responsible for Media, Entertainment, and Location-Based apps & platforms; Kris was collaborating with Wikitude to integrate AR into Verizon's GPS Navigation.

He also launched the Verizon Developer Program.  In addition, Kris was an Advisor, Board Member, to FlyBy Media, an AR tech startup, acquired by Apple. As an entrepreneur, Kris was the Co-Founder of Spime Inc, a Silicon Valley GPS startup acquired by Trimble.  Kris holds graduate degrees from MIT. Here are his thoughts on Augmented Reality for the enterprise.

Q) As you look back on the last three years and the massive growth you have seen in the VR/AR Association, what’s been the most significant development you have observed in the evolution of augmented reality business for enterprises - in terms of use cases, adoption, new entrants/exits from the market or industries?

A) Big companies like UPS, DHL, Boeing, and Walmart to name a few, are using the technology and solutions for making work / employees more effective (less errors, better training), resulting in lower costs and better customer service. For example, in our VRARA Virtual & Augmented Reality for Business White Paper we note that ‘digitizing your training with VR also unlocks complete session recordings & training data. Completion rates, behavioral patterns, and even compliance metrics may be surfaced using analysis tools built for virtual reality.’(p7)

Q) When I look at your member list – and the range of countries from which they hail – it looks like VR and AR development is growing massively around the world. Are there locations – or applications – in any region that surprise you? Are there trends you’re seeing in terms of which kinds of development are taking place in which countries?

A) Vancouver keeps surprising us as one of our most active chapters and the government just invested $1B CAD - most of which will go to VR/AR. With that said, all of our global chapters have impacted growth in the industry which is why created a chapter for that location.

Q) There’s a lot of industry analysis which suggests that 2018 will be the year in which a lot of enterprise customers conduct pilots and trials of Augmented Reality – and that 2019 and 2020 will be the years in which we’ll start to see widespread adoption, as companies see clear evidence (both from their own pilots and those of their competitors) of the value they are seeing. Does that fit with what you are seeing?

A) Yes - again in our Business White Paper, we acknowledge that ‘much like the beginning of the internet, early adopters will be ahead of the game, and complacent companies may find themselves left behind. Companies that are on the fence about immersive technology should begin with a reasonable investment into discovery and proof of concepts.’(p9) VR/AR pilot adoption is happening and companies are getting valuable data and process information for what works and what does not for scale opportunities.

Q) Based on your extensive knowledge of the sector, what is the biggest barrier to adoption of AR technology by enterprise customers – and how has that changed in the last few years?

A) Cost of hardware and custom solutions are the usual suspects for barrier to entry. However, with every proven use case and new solution being rolled out, the costs are both manageable and coming down. Depending on the requirements of any product, VR/AR technology solutions more than meet the ‘right fit’ for investment in enterprise as well as other sectors.

Q) AR capabilities are being added to iOS and Android phones and tablets (through ARkit and ARcore, respectively). What impact do you think that the existence of some of the many smartphones and tablets with at least basic AR capabilities will have on the development of AR applications for enterprises? Do you see a future where perhaps apps will scale from basic versions on a smartphone to more full-blown offerings on AR headsets?

A) We are already seeing an impact. For example, Bosch has an AR repair system where the user holds the phone or tablet over a car engine and it walks you through the repair process. Another example, is the company Relay Cars that has a VR sales tool; ‘which allows car manufacturers to choose their own environment and showcase their vehicles in a unique way without having to pay for development of their own discreet application.’(p13) Moreover, if the business case makes sense, then yes, apps will scale depending on their target industry.

Q) Do you see a shaking out of standards for interaction - such as touch, gestures, voice and head motion - for AR devices? These features are being introduced on lots of devices right now, but it seems likely that - at some point in the not too distant future - there will be a user-driven need to coalesce around some standards for interaction. What do you think?

A) At the moment standards are being solidified on a high level for development. From a user perspective, standards around interaction are always in flux because the technology is rapidly developing. Still, all interaction should consider the user first, second and foremost in the development process. If your user is not happy, then you have a fail - plain and simple.

Source

Virtual Reality: The Next Generation Of Education, Learning and Training

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 9.26.56 AM.png

When people hear about virtual reality (VR), images of a person wearing a headset and holding a gaming console usually come to mind. However, for the education sector, VR is an opportunity to finally connect with both learners and teachers in a novel and meaningful way. For example, EON Reality collaborated with Oral Roberts University to create the Global Learning Center, a dedicated facility for augmented and virtual learning. 

As the global executive director of the global VR/AR Association, I've watched our 3,900-plus registered companies and our Education Committee and Training Committee work on best practices, guidelines and standards to accelerate the VR/AR industry for all, one committee in particular being devoted to education and training.

Today, VR can enable experiential learning by simulating real-world environments. Students can test their skills, record their work and interact with experts all within VR. Students have responded overwhelmingly positively to active learner engagement. A recent study shows that "93 percent of teachers say their students would be excited to use virtual reality and 83 percent say that virtual reality might help improve learning outcomes." This points to a universal trend as these students will soon enter universities and then the workforce, where job training scenarios will become the new classroom.

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 9.26.25 AM.png

For visual learners and individuals with learning challenges, VR provides an alternative medium to meet their needs. Likewise, educators see increased engagement levels and improved test scores across the board with VR education programs. Hands-on learning techniques like VR education directly contribute to increased cognitive memory.

The benefits of incorporating VR/AR tech into educational experiences include better, more immediate engagement and the opportunity for learners to "feel" the experiences and better remember and express what they learned. A student can experience what was not possible to experience before and become better prepared for when such experiences occur in the real world.

The basic functionality of VR in education is to bring learning to life via a virtual environment. The more a learner is able to participate in life-like engagement, the easier it is to personally feel a connection to the subject material, making it easier for application and retention of the subject matter.

The most popular trends in VR learning include enterprise and education. In enterprise, Walmart is using VR to help train its employees on topics like management and customer service. Soon, all 200 of the company's U.S. training centers will use VR instruction to educate the estimated 150,000 employees going through the program annually.

In education, there's Star Chart, an iOS and Android app with over 20 million users that brings the universe a little closer. Users learn about astronomy by pointing their phones to the sky at night and utilize other features to learn about planets and space discovery.

It’s important to pay attention to this trend and adopt VR solutions in your organization to educate employees in new and better ways and teach students with more engaging and effective tools. However, like many new technologies before it, awareness is the first barrier to entry followed by cost and content.

Many are still not aware of VR training solutions that are proving to be effective. At The VR/AR Association we are doing our part to promote the industry and help organizations locate the best VR solutions for their use case. Meanwhile, quality VR headsets come at around $399 (already down from $599 ore more just a few months ago). Cost is steadily declining our research points to $199 being the sweet spot price point for “mass adoption.” Finally, better content — specific for each use case — is needed and is being created for enterprise use cases and educational curriculums.

In 2018 we will see the costs decrease, better content emerge and more awareness spread, which will propel the VR/AR education market to high growth.

Ultimately, VR in education will revolutionize not only how people learn but how they interact with real-world applications of what they have been taught. Imagine medical students performing an operation or geography students really seeing where and what Kathmandu is. The world just opens up to a rich abundance of possibilities.

 

Today at Apple - How Augmented Reality Will Come to Life

This week, Apple showcased its vision for the future. The Event was not so much about a technology or features like AR, but more about what Apple is doing to inspire & improve our daily lives and for communities and society in a profound way.  

Augmented Reality is used in Apple's new campus and potentially in future Apple Retail Stores to inspire & engage

Beginning with showing stunning views from its new campus headquarters that was designed to inspire, Tim Cook did mention "Augmented Reality" is used in its visitor center (see video).

Angela Ahrendts, SVP of Retail continued by describing Apple retail stores as town-squares, and said retail is Apple’s largest product. Angela summed up her talk by highlighting several Apple global projects underway, clearly demarking an era of Apple integrating itself further into our daily lives on a global scale. 

Imagine AR used in Apple Retail stores and town-squares, similar to how it’s used in its “spaceship” campus to inspire and engage visitors.

New paradigm shift in user experience

In the same spirit, Tim Cook unveiled Apple Watch as the number one watch in the world. And now I want to buy one! Not only did the video Tim shared made me want to shed a tear, it poignantly brought to life how the Watch affected the lives of its users and in some cases-saved their lives. With Apple Watch series 3, I can now make and receive calls without my phone! And my life will be simpler because now I can stream 40M songs while using the airpods while doing my everyday.

This new behavior — of not needing my iPhone to make calls or listen to music — is a paradigm shift in user experience that Apple is playing very carefully, potentially resulting in future products like smartglasses

Apple said the new iPhones were designed for Augmented Reality

With high hopes, iPhoneX is ushering in the next generation of connected devices with its front and back all glass design on the diagonal super retina display. More features include: OLED, Face ID to unlock your phone, an A11 Bionic neural engine, animoji’s controlled by your face, camera’s with dual optical image stabilization, and a true depth camera system. This adds up to make AR experiences more fluid and experiential; redefining perception and reality.

Finally, Apple delivered a few AR examples via Major League Baseball’s At Bat app, Sky Guide star map app and The Machines multiplayer game. At Bat, overlay’s player stats over a live view of the game. Similarly, Sky Guide overlays a star map when users point at the night sky. And The Machines,  superimposes a virtual landscape on a real environment.

Ultimately, Apple is denoting a paradigm shift in how we think about and use its products. It sees itself as a community builder and platform for human ingenuity. It is also creating a not so secret network of organization based around shared connectivity among its devices and people’s daily life (cue the heart monitor of AppleWatch, home life of AppleTV, easy ApplePay and of course, the always intuitive iPhoneX).

Perhaps the standout performance of this years Apple Event wasn’t any one product or technology, but the idea that every person deserves an opportunity at something better, something more, something Apple. It is yet to be seen how AR infuses itself into our daily lives and how Apple let's it grow organically. 

Google ARCore. 2 Billion Android Phones. 2 Phones to Begin With

In "response" to Apple’s ARKit, Google just launched ARCore. The main functionality includes motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. ARCore determines the position and orientation of the phone as it moves, which enables virtual objects to be accurately placed. Likewise, ARCore is able to distinguish horizontal surfaces using feature points in its motion tracking.

And for a wow factor, ARCore can detect the amount of ambient light in an environment to enable developers to- in effect, match virtual objects to their surroundings.

Google is launching ARCore on the Pixel and Galaxy S8 to begin with, in hopes of reaching a 100M Android devices by its public launch. Although Google started off AR focusing on Tango, it never really took off. Only two Android phones, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, and the Zenfone AR managed to employ Tango, which needs specialized hardware components in the smartphone or tablet. With the goal of reaching more users, Google is seemingly playing catch-up to Apple with a "software" based approach that can be deployed on existing devices in the market.

Meanwhile, Apple is happily ready to showcase a bunch of new AR apps for it’s iOS11 and new iPhone8 release in September. Brands such as The Food Network, Ikea, AMC TV  met in Cupertino this week to demo their AR apps; many hope it will be a fun new way to engage customers and users alike. All in all, this adds up to some exciting opportunities for the entire ecosystem as Apple, Google among others are finally making AR mainstream.

Get involved in our Industry Committees and set best practices, guidelines, and standards for the industry. 

Augmented Reality is Growing Up

Disney, Crayola and student targeted AR Campaigns lead Augmented Reality growth in brand adoption. Disney Research just shared a walk up AR experience for its animations; using nothing more than a bench, cameras and a screen. ‘Magic Bench’ uses depth and RGB color sensors of a Kinect to create a scene in which 3-D animated characters ‘interact’ and sit on the bench with users. The Disney team is able to modify the 3-D construction to 2-D and use that as a ‘flat’ backdrop. The entire experience runs on a game engine. But what is exciting is that multiple people can sit on the bench and see the animations on the screen at once for a fun Disney moment. If you're interested in AR for brands, join our Marketing Industry Committee

Likewise, Crayola partnered with DAQRI to bring coloring books to life. The user (kids) colors and customizes the character, and then uses a smartphone or tablet camera to hover over the page using the Crayola Color Alive App to animate the characters on the page. Originally released in early 2015, Color Alive (2.0) now has 8 new versions that were released in 2016; including Disney’s popular Frozen. If you're interested in AR and Publishing, Books, and Media, join our Committee on this topic here! 

Finally, teens and students alike are engaging with AR via targeted AR advertising campaigns. The English Brand, New Look, with over 700 stores in the UK, Europe and Asia; launched an AR Campaign in the UAE. The brand hired Engine Creative, to create an experience which enabled students to scan their New Look Student Card and reveal special offers and ‘create their own look’ by overlaying New Look products using their phones. For Brand engagement, users spent an average of 6 minutes 53 seconds inside the app and had over 10,000 interactions in one month. And icing on the cake, the entire experience was integrated for social sharing and contextual metrics for the brand. If you're interested in Advertising, join our Committee on this topic here! 

With Apple's ARKit, expect to see more of AR experiences in traditional/existing apps, as well as new apps centered completely around experiences enabled with AR. 

Opinion: The AR Market will be Determined from your ‘Home’

With the launch of Apple’s HomeKit, which enables users to control their HomeKit devices from a singular app; and in tandem with ARKit, Apple is positioned to prove first to market does not always mean best. Like Amazon’s Alexa, Siri powers Apple’s HomePod smart-speaker. The AI behind Siri is what drives the actions and makes life easier for its user. Now that HomeKit makes control of these connected devices ubiquitous, users can do even more daily tasks with less friction. In addition, with the functionality of AR now being developed into Apple’s ecosystem; users can expect more powerful tools inside the ‘Home’ environment beyond the physical. Think of the list of your daily or weekly action items specifically related to your ‘home’ life and then think of the ways a digital solution could merge with the physical all with one click. Now you’re in control. Finally, to piggyback off the rumor-mill, Apple is said to have enhanced depth-sensing AR-focused camera sensors for the next iPhones. It all adds up to one powerful system. A close second is Amazon (which just patented AR for "home use") and we will have to wait and see about Google and Facebook.

Apple ARKit has me Seeing AppleVision

Like Spectacles, AppleVision will enable filters, lenses and actually do much more than PokémonGo.

Apple will be able to enable new novel AR solutions for real problems that are annoying AF in real life. Picture a bespoke life experience complete with virtual assistant.

From the moment you put on your AppleVision ‘specs,’ your daily calendar renders your schedule for the day and a side bar of pending action items are aggregated from emails; which can be easily parsed and collated simply by voice command or ear end taps. Apple has you covered.

Instead of a boring commute to the office, specs offer you entertainment pulled from your Apple ecosystem with integrated third party data for more news or work options.

I can now see my work emails on the main specs display and have the market news running on the sidebar (periphery); all without even opening my laptop or looking down at my phone.

Later in my day, leaving work I can ask specs to tell me which gym is less busy for my cardio machine and buy me dinner within 10 mins. of my estimated gym completion time; no more waiting in lines for the right workout machines or getting (h)angry after -cuz I can't wait for my food. My life is good.

Once at my apartment I can ask specs to show me new movie content and sync with my TV for an 8pm start time while I take the dog for his walk.  Maybe I ask specs to route me (via fun green AR arrows and my dogs pic) to the least crowded dog park or a dog friendly bar for a pre-dinner aperitif. Now my life is even better.

Apple has a lot to offer. Just use your imagination. For now the ARKit otherwise called ‘world tracking’ actually only enables the iPhone or iPad’s camera coupled with their motion sensors to ‘pin’ objects to one point in space. Yet once you multiply this feature to a bunch of points in an environment, plus working in conjunction with finding flat surfaces, many functionalities can then be deployed.

Although it is still early, the clear win for AR and Apple is that now developers can create for the masses and scale with controlled costs. So even if Apple decides not to leverage and integrate its entire ecosystem, fun and exciting things are sure to come very soon.

Surprise and Delight: Successful AR Monetization via Snapchat

For gen Z and at least half of Millennials, Snapchat is their social media channel of choice. And, they are very loyal to Snapchat. With that said, across the board today’s user/audience expects contextually relevant, visually engaging, ad content in order to connect with a brand or business.

So what does that mean and how is Snapchat killing it?

That means that ads need to have a simple and clear message with a call to action that penetrates. Snapchat ads let the creative do the talking while the user feels like they are being entertained by an experience unique for them but also to share with all their friends.

So why does this matter for VR/AR?

So far, Snapchat is the only social media channel to use AR in their ad monetization scheme; allowing brands or businesses to sponsor a lens or geofilter. Successful campaigns by default all have an interactive element via the lens/geofilter and personalization via the user generated content/pic. However, each AR element clearly adds value for both the brands and the user. It’s a perfect mashup of surprise and delight.

Show me the numbers

According to eMarketer, Snapchat will generate $935.46 million in ad revenue this year and capture 2% of the social network ad dollars.

So how does Snap measure success?

Snapchat measures performance a bit differently from the other guys as well. For example, ‘viewability, provides metrics for how much attention your ad has received,’ as stated on their site. Reach is pretty standard but ‘resonance’ gages thought and feeling about your ad. While ‘reaction’ tracks in-store lift in sales. Last but not least is ‘verification,’ which provides third party data to keep things transparent.

The takeaway

AR presents a fundamental shift in the future of doing business, period. The now approx 35-40% of users just on Snapchat alone will grow. The interactive ‘fun/play’ element of AR will soon evolve into ever more sophisticated functionalities that both provide a service and engage the user in a unique and positive way. Picture AR integrated into much more of our daily journey, from picking up your local coffee to getting on your next flight. Plus the Spectales; AR will make it into this form factor, i.e., glasses. Brands that want to survive will rid themselves of customer pain-points via AR solutions aimed for maximum customer satisfaction. Everybody else will either adapt or be rendered obsolete. The future is now (i.e., "adapt or die").

Building Awareness in Early Adopters & Taking Next Steps

Like the early days in mobile, success and growth are linked inextricably to building awareness. Currently the market is entering its second year of market knowledge and adoption; but it is really the first year of rolling up the sleeves, for knocking on doors. Both content creators and technology enablers must appeal to the early adopters for both business and word of mouth cache. Being the first still has its benefits. Companies both large and small that buy and use VR/AR content are seen as leaders and will be seen as the one to compete. For the industry as a whole, this free advertising is crucial in exponential organic growth.

So what does this look like in the field? For me, this means I explain the value and benefits the industry provides to companies interested in the VRARA. For content creators and VR/AR tech providers this means leveraging your network and explaining how you can work with the small business owner or increase monetization to large brands. In short, good old fashioned business development. Opportunity is out there in so many ways. Simply, I find just keep talking about what you do and how someone can get started to have it too. It works wonders.

The next step is taking action. That is the case with the VRARA Industry Committees . Representatives from companies are collaborating on similar needs and challenges, and working together to set best practices and guidelines for different verticals. Come join us, and you won't feel alone in this VR AR journey that we are all pursuing. 

And Facebook Rules the (VR & AR) World

Facebook just made a few huge announcements at F8.

Deep Neural Networks, AR and Facebook Surround 360 will change how people live their lives. Hear me out, with the ability to model complex non-linear relationships; Deep Neural Networks (i..e, "brain click") will power everyday tasks with an AR interaction. In other words, if you want to leave a message on the fridge for your roommate, the device will record the location with GPS and the geometry of that environment in order for your roommate with their device to read it.

Likewise, your phone’s camera is becoming the tool for ubiquitous AR. Facebook opened its AR platform to developers to build on top of the ‘basic effects’ already available to users. As a result, people will expect  to see more fun effects but also practical applications digitally layered on your morning commute to the office. Think PokemonGo but for real life.

And finally, let’s not forget about VR/360. Facebook unveiled a preview at F82017. The new Facebook Surround 360 will offer  6 camera and 24 camera designs with ‘depth-estimation algorithms.’ This essentially enables users to film and render content that is more life-like and immersive. For example, the ability to walk in a 360 space in real time, seeing the space change as you move throughout. Think the holodeck from Star Trek! Okay maybe I’m just as excited as Mark but you get my point.

So as I said earlier, Facebook will change how people live their lives and I can’t wait.

The New Samsung Galaxy AR VR SmartPhone with Bixby Vision

This week Samsung unveiled two new products that will further real word applications and use of both VR and AR. First, the much discussed Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus; will enable Bixby Vision. Although Samsung has decided to keep the explanation super simple and just says, the user can point to an object and scan. What is behind the scenes of this tech achievement is what people should be talking about. So far, the functionality of Bixby Vision is limited to product search, location id, translating text, object recognition, and QR codes. However, in the near future, we should expect a fully integrated AR type product to render over the real world objects it identifies.

With Bixby Vision, you can focus on an object through your viewfinder and tap the Vision icon to identify landmarks or translate foreign languages. Bixby lives inside your Camera, Gallery and Internet to give you a deeper understanding of what you’re looking at. Just tap the Vision icon in your viewfinder and Bixby will serve up contextual icons: translation, QR code detection, landmark recognition and shopping. Translate foreign languages just by pointing your camera at text. Bixby vision on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Shopping Take a picture of an item to find out where to buy it.
— Samsung

The second product Samsung announced is Samsung Gear 360 4k! Now, this is big because the content makers and the ecosystem have been waiting for an affordable, easy to use, fully integrated 4k 360 camera for all the fun possibilities it will allow. Users will now be able to shoot in 4k, do live streaming to Facebook and YouTube in 2k and hold the camera in their hand with the newly formed handle. The cost is what sells it, most likely starting in the upper $300 range along with the Gear 360 product line. I am optimistic Samsung appears to be moving opportunities forward in the brave new world of AR/VR.

A whole new VR experience with completely intuitive responses on the in-hand controller, and a Gear 360 that shoots in 4k and fits in your pocket.
— Samsung

Content is King at SXSW

The big story for VR/AR/MR at SXSW was not the usual industry write-off, as a ‘fad’ or whether platform providers can make affordable tech. By far what got people excited was Nat Geo Further Base Camp event series. The week-long interactive line-up gets people into experiences and into the world of National Geographic. What made this series special was the live and sharable nature of the action itself.

The second runner up for most liked showing, was Felix and Paul’s feature film Miyubi. This 40-minute film captured both the story and audience with seamless execution; making the story cleverly play out using a robot toy as the VR element of choice to allow the audience to view the life of a boy set in 1982 suburbia.

On the ‘solutions’ side of things, reinvent (Rehabilitation Environment using the Integration of Neuromuscular-based Virtual Enhancements for Neural Training) presented a tangible healthcare therapy. USC’s NPNL researchers program is designed to help aid in the recovery of brain injury. The main idea is that the tech picks up neurofeedback utilizing sensors and a headmounted VR display without actual physical movement from the patient. This type of Neuroplasticity and Neurorehabilitation Therapy aims to provide more engagement for the patient visually and thus help rebuild ‘broken’ neuropathways faster. All in all, the common theme for SXSW was content. People want more content and content applications to enhance and elevate interactive possibilities in their everyday lives.

Below are some highlights: 

 

In the spirit of Content is King, join our Industry Committees to work on best practices, guidelines, and standards for VR AR. 

ISG Insights: Business Value of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Executive Insights: Research created by ISG InsightsTM and Reprinted courtesy of Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VR/AR Association, On Business Value of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Summary and Key Insight

As part of our ongoing Executive Insights research program, ISG’s Ron Exler and Alex Bakker recently caught up with Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VR/AR Association. In this two-part interview, Kolo provides business use cases, insights, and guidance on the value of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) investments. He also shares and how applications of the technologies translate to improved business outcomes. The interview wraps up with his view on the challenges and misconceptions the industry faces for reaching broader adoption of VR and AR applications. Learning first-hand from industry leaders who are regularly in the field with customers and vendors provides valuable insight into current and future trends. This interview, with an experienced leader in VR/AR projects, illustrates the opportunities and challenges – both business and technical - in the emerging VR/AR sector.

Download the full report here

Snap IPO & Snap Crackle Pop

Wow what a week. We had Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Oculus lowered its’ prices to be more inline with HTC and Snap Inc. went public! Instead of rehashing now old news, I want take this opportunity to talk about how Snap Inc. is making tech fun again. Aside from the speculation that Snap Inc. is pondering making a VR Camera in the likes of Samsung Gear; what is getting me excited and people in the industry is the simple yellow joy of the brand. Despite talking heads saying money was left on the table for the IPO or that Instagram is making headwinds in the core user-base, Snap Inc. has captured something that users have been craving for a while now, fun. With digital becoming a ‘utility,’ it is refreshing to have a nice blend of business and barfing rainbows. Whether it be the advent of silly filters, or the ‘must have’ cool spectacles, happy is always an awesome distraction from the reality of a stress filled life. Obviously I am a fan and can’t wait to see what else the company has on deck for the next year. Congrats Snap.

Read more about why Snap is an AR company to consider seriously: 

Snap's AR Camera Strategy

Snapchat (Snap Inc) is a Camera and Augmented Reality Company

The VR AR MR Industry Ecosystem (updated)

As of July 2018, theDirectory, has over 4000 companies & organizations registered. The breakdown is as follows:  

  • 42%    Apps & Content (education, gaming, consumer, enterprise applications)  
  • 23%    Hardware (headsets, HMD, cameras, controllers)
  • 22%    Community (university, research, lab, center/incubator/accelerator, online portal, news, event/conference, fund/VC)
  • 10%   Tools  (tools for 3D, SDKs, Analytics, Advertising)
  • 3%     Discovery & Distribution (App Stores, Web portals, etc)
Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 10.22.41 AM.png

If you would like a more detailed breakdown of the data, please email info@thevrara.com

VRARA’s mission is to connect leading solution providers with brands & customers, and the feedback from the industry has been positive:

“The fact that we have a single resource now to look at for companies is awesome.”

“Straightforward layout, simple to navigate. Searchable by location.”

“Easy to navigate.”

Healthcare Solutions in VR AR MR

People are constantly asking how to move forward or more to the point, what’s beyond the hype in the VR industry? So let me say that what is clearly gaining traction in the market is improved Health Solutions. People want more, faster, and less evasive diagnostic, treatment and technology options.

The VRARA Digital Health Committee is proof. Since the inception of the committee, both companies and healthcare professionals wanted in. The goal is to develop and share best practices as the industry matures.

Everyone from Medical Doctors to private companies are participating to build tangible tools based on real use cases. The entire process of the patient journey; not to mention education both for patients and medical personnel alike is being parsed and planned.

As an example of the possibilities on this topic, we need look no further than  Cambridge University; who is now working on a program to render 3D VR treatment for cancer.

“We want to create an interactive, faithful, 3D map of tumors that can be studied in virtual reality that scientists can ‘walk into’ and look at it in great detail,” said lead researcher Greg Hannon in a Cambridge news post.

A 3D model would be ideal for researches to study and analyze with in-depth precision; showing the minutia of the cancer which has never done before.

“I think this is the very cutting edge of how people will in the future understand not only cancer but organismal development,” said Hannon in a video from the university.

This and more medical research utilizing VR/AR & MR is now happening and hopefully setting the new standard in excellence of care.

Proven Value in VR/AR - Facebook, Snap Inc, and Apple

With market news dominating this week’s quarterly earnings report; Apple, Facebook and Snap Inc come into focus for the VR/AR/MR industry. Apple is the surprise leader with earnings beating forecast and it capitalizing on strong iPhone 7 Plus sales. What also should be noted is that Apple appears to be planning for object recognition with it’s recent patents and dual camera’s capacity for depth perception.

Facebook is pushing for VR adoption (Oculus) but also is keeping traction with the market as a whole via Instagram. The bold strategy of Instagram to add new features to copy Snap’s core functionality, a la ‘ Instagram Stories,’ is paying off. Both active users have increased for Instagram ‘Stories’ and a decline in ‘Snapchat Stories.’  Also,  Facebook is said to be casting a wider net with Brands and movie studios for Branded "animated masks" and filters, i.e., augmented reality.

Ultimately, Snap Inc. is poised for big things! I’m sure future iterations of it’s ‘Stories’ will be improved and actually I’m super excited to see what Spectacles will have to offer in terms of AR. Reports that Snap Inc. is testing AR overlay’s on scenes viewed with Spectacles, which will recognize landscapes and faces. This has my eyes wide open with rainbows and advertiser dollars.

Also read: 

Snap's AR Camera Strategy - It's about Story (Content) Creation and "Advertising"

Snapchat (Snap Inc) is a Camera and Augmented Reality Company