It's not just for gamers. Immersive technologies such as AR and VR are being enthusiastically adopted by many businesses. Could they work in yours?
There's a great deal of business potential in harnessing the ability to see and interact with new environments or products in a virtual world. Not only can these technologies boost productivity and efficiency - for example, by saving money on expensive prototyping - but they can revolutionise operations from training and R&D.
They are creating innovative and exciting customer experiences. Approximately 75 per cent of the biggest brands in the world have integrated virtual reality opportunities into their marketing strategy to date because of its power as a marketing tool - by improving buyer awareness, accelerating the purchasing process, and offering more personalised choices to buyers.
What is particularly notable is just how many different sectors are now using immersive technologies.
Tourism: enhancing the visitor experience
The entirety of the UK has been turned into an AR experience with the England’s Historic Cities app. Using specialised trigger points at a selection of English Heritage sites, activated by a phone’s camera, visitors can uncover AR displays, reconstructions and 360-degree panoramas telling the unique story of each site. It is hoped that the app will broaden the appeal of these historic cities for younger audiences, as well as encouraging return visits. The use of AR technology is seen as a significant differentiation factor for attracting visitors, offering a completely new layer of engagement.
Public Services: testing skills in a safe environment
Gwent Police in Wales recently launched a new VR training system, becoming the first police force in the UK to do so. The technology involves a 280-degree VR scene in which the officer deals with real-life scenarios which are replicated by using immersive VR. The use of VR as a training technique has also been explored by military medics, astronauts, surgeons, and a range of other professions where it’s important to get “hands-on” experience. VR enables them to test skills in a safe environment, where the chance of physical risk (to themselves or others) is reduced.
Healthcare: therapy for patients
Sheffield Hallam University has developed a VR game which is used as distraction therapy to help burns victims deal with the agonising pain they can experience during medical treatment. The videogame involves patients moving their heads when wearing a headset to trigger specific actions and movements within the VR world. The immersive nature of VR can help patients stop focusing on the pain, as they are effectively ‘elsewhere’.
Sports and leisure: engaging spectators
US based production company Mandt VR uses 360-degree and AR technology to create immersive sporting experiences for smartphones through viewers like Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR. The company created content for the US College Football Playoff National Championship in 2017, which was accessible via Facebook and YouTube, and viewers could experience the action of the entire weekend and its related festivities.
Construction: improving design and build
Sustainable urban developer Citu has partnered with Leeds Metropolitan University to co-design a zero carbon housing solution to world class standard. Computer generated images (CGIs) and detailed designs were unveiled last year and potential buyers can have a look around the development through a fully immersive VR experience before the houses have even been built. With this approach, every new-build housing development could be designed and manufactured in a way that accelerates the transition to low carbon cities.
Food & drink: memorable marketing campaigns
Australian wine brand 19 Crimes uses an app to tell the story of the historic criminals pictured on their labels, through AR. Consumers can download the free app and hold it up to the label on the wine bottle, which each feature an image of British prisoners who were sent to Australia in the 18th century and who are supposed to have committed one of the infamous '19 crimes' of the time.
Finding out more - and taking the next step
Up Your Game, which is being organised by Enterprise Europe Network as part of the Yorkshire Games Festival in Bradford in February 2019, is a business matchmaking event designed to bring the creative industry together with potential users of immersive technologies. The aim is to facilitate collaboration, ideas, innovation and investment in animation, games, motion graphics, VFX, AR and VR. You can find out more and register your place here.