Technology is improving by the second. The past couple of years have seen a growing interest in immersive tech. Technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are being exploited at a wider scale to facilitate life-like experiences and improve daily interactions. And this has brought about a whole new era of immersive experiences that are much more realistic and futuristic.
As per statistics, the VR and AR markets are growing at a staggering pace. The combined market is anticipated to grow by over $30 billion by 2030.
Statista indicates that the number of AR/VR devices worldwide will rise to 68.6 million units by 2023. Also, AR and VR headsets are expected to record a massive sales figure of over 30 million units annually by 2023.
What is an Immersive Experience?
An immersive experience is something that pulls an individual into a digital or augmented reality, improving their everyday life via technology. The experience transforms a regular event into an extraordinary adventure and makes the interaction highly engaging.
Now many of you may perceive an immersive experience as having sci-fi holograms or low-res virtual spaces. While some of that may be true, immersive experiences can also be witnessed in simpler ways.
Take social media filters, for instance. These filters are live augmentations of your face as well as the environment you are standing in. However, these filters have become so common that they are barely perceived as AR anymore. In fact, people are getting used to immersive experiences through mobile devices.
In other words, the immersive revolution has begun and is already making giant strides. And in the future, it will only become more and more integrated into our everyday lives. One testimony to this can be the recent announcement made by Mark Zuckerberg, where he defined his vision for the future of his company, solemnizing all his focus on the metaverse.
Essentially, the metaverse is where the digital and physical worlds collide. It is a space where digital representations of people work and interact together. And at the center of this metaverse are two technologies: virtual reality and augmented reality.
Understanding Immersive Technologies
Technologies available to us today have made it possible to create immersive experiences for people. Here, we will look at some of the most common types of immersive technologies that are being leveraged by several brands.
- Augmented Reality (AR) – AR uses technology to add a digitally-simulated layer of information on top of the real world. In other words, AR demonstrates the enhancement of the world around you.
- Virtual Reality – This technology immerses the user inside a digital simulation that they can easily interact with. VR focuses on simulating several senses to make sure the user experience is as authentic as possible. Most VR experiences require the use of special hardware.
- Mixed Reality – Mixed reality is an improved version of AR that also leverages some elements of VR. Apart from adding a layer of information, it integrates virtual objects into the real world, creating highly immersive experiences for the end-users.
Potential Use Cases for Immersive Technologies
Over the next couple of years, immersive technologies are going to make it big, with far-reaching effects on our work, education, and social lives.
Today, the most prevalent VR applications involve taking control of a person’s senses, particularly sight and hearing. And this helps to create a highly immersive experience that also feels very realistic. But very soon, the VR creators are anticipated to involve other senses such as touch and smell, further deepening the sense of immersion.
Some of the potential applications of immersive technologies are as follows:
Some Real-World Examples of Immersive Experiences
As stated above, the immersive revolution has already begun. Several brands and businesses are leveraging immersive technologies to offer remarkable user experiences. Let’s look at some of them.
‘Vision Picking’ Smart Glasses at DHL
DHL is the world’s leading logistics company. In a bid to become more efficient, the company rolled out a pilot project that tested vision picking smart glasses and augmented reality in a warehouse in the Netherlands.
The smart glasses guided the staff at the warehouse through graphics displayed on them. This not only helped to speed up the picking process but also reduce errors. Overall, the pilot project proved to be highly valuable, leading to a 25% increase in efficiency during the pickup process. According to DHL, this will establish a new standard in order picking in the industry.
MR in the Automaking Industry
Volvo, a leading Swiss automaker recently partnered with Varjo, a maker of high-end MR headsets. These headsets help to evaluate prototypes and develop safety technologies. Volvo firmly believes that a mixed reality approach cannot just help to reduce development times but also build better and safer vehicles.
Consequently, it partnered with Varjo to develop MR headsets that enable engineers to evaluate how the car performs in a simulated environment. These headsets also enable the company to assess car safety and determine whether the new features will distract the drivers.
Adidas Improves Internal Workflow with VR
Continuous collaboration and communication are indispensable, especially in an organization as big as Adidas. However, every year, it gets difficult for marketers, merchandisers, and sales personnel to get together and evaluate future plans, new products, campaigns, and much more.
To address this, Adidas has started leveraging virtual reality to create a new sort of virtual collaborative space. Here, all the employees come together in the same virtual room and share 3D models and content.
With the ability to conduct all work in the same collaborative space as well as the ability to evaluate, change, and then reassess in 3D, storytelling and product offerings have come far more quickly. Through this, the company has also been able to resolve the issue of lost information in spatial translation.
Walmart Embraces VR Employee Training
Walmart is using VR headsets to train employees and equip them to deal with various real-life situations. For instance, it is using the technology to prepare employees for the commotion that occurs on a Black Friday when customers swarm the stores in huge numbers. Also, the company is using VR to evaluate which employees have the skills to fill middle management positions.
As per Andy Trainor, senior director of Walmart US Academies, VR training makes the learning experiential. It has also increased confidence and retention among the employees and improved test scores by 10- 15 percent. It is evident that the immersive tech space is evolving swiftly. And it has been further propelled a few years into the future owing to the 5G rollout and advances in edge computing. In fact, the world is on the cusp of a massive breakthrough in the AR/VR/MR space, and the coming times will offer countless immersive experiences.