What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is one of the most exciting technologies that have found it’s way into the lives of companies as a way to engage with customers. But what is Augmented Reality (AR)? Simply put, it is the combination of an actual environment plus digital information. At a Ted Talk recorded in February 2016, Alex Kipman, the man behind the Windows Holographic, described AR as a technology that works to “bring 3D holographic content right into our world, enhancing the way we experience life beyond our ordinary range of perceptions’. This enhancement of the real world creates an ‘augmented’ world. We call this Augmented Reality.
SMARTPHONE POWERED HEADSETS
The beauty of this space is its easy ubiquity. Create a VR mobile application, download it on a smartphone and place the smartphone within one of the headsets below. Voila! You are VR-ready. Marketers considering distribution would find this option as the most promising.
But wait…have you read Part 1 of this write-up? If you have, read on. If not, you will miss out on a complete picture of the hardware scene!
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR is the benchmark for smartphone powered headsets. It popularized the idea that all one needs to enjoy virtual reality is (1) buy a VR headset and (2) slot in your smartphone to double up as the screen.
User experience: Several grades lower than the high-end headsets as the computing power of a smartphone is obviously weaker. The sharpness of the images and fluidity of the experience is dependent upon the smartphone model you use. The best compatible smartphone, S7, provides a good experience and a reasonable degree of immersion. The Samsung Gear VR still has what it takes to impress those who try VR for the first time.
Interactivity: There are no handheld controllers. While some workarounds exist, users generally interact with the environment by tapping on a track-pad which is built on the side of the Gear VR.
Head-mounted display. 90Hz refresh rate. Field of view. 2160 x 1200 / 1920×1080.
With jargons like these thrown around, it is not surprising that business executives find virtual reality headsets to be an intimidating arena. When we were young and naïve, we would aim to bedazzle executives with such high-falutin technicalities. Of course, not wanting to look like a technological caveman, they would indulge us with nods of thoughtful appreciation. (If you happened to be one of them and are reading this, allow us to take this chance to apologize!)
It didn’t take us long though, to realize that with most executives wishing to either use VR for marketing or training purposes, they just wish to know – “Which device does the job? HTC or Gear VR or Google Cardboard?”
With Conversation after conversation after conversation, we find that executives generally care about a few things for virtual reality:
- User experience (immersion, clarity)
- Ease of use / availability in Singapore
- Cost, with its related consequence to content distribution.
Daily, reports are being written on Virtual Reality (VR) global prominence. In America, adopters range from the venerable NASA to the quotidian Mall of America. China now boasts of thousands of crowded VR arcades that are proliferating faster than you can say “Are you serious?!”.
Singapore is no digital Luddite too, with the government spearheading the awareness of Virtual Reality. In fact, a casual browsing of the contracts on the tender portal will show the government to probably be the biggest local procurer of services for virtual and augmented reality. (Then again, one may argue that the government is the biggest procurer of everything & anything due to it’s sheer size – that’s something for another day)