Over the last few years, Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies have been touted as the next big thing. How does it work? When should you use it? And what can AR or VR do for your business or customers?

Last week we opened our doors to talk about and discuss all of these things and more. From the different types of immersive platforms on offer to what to consider when delving into this technology along with a look at some of our work for Lego and Visit Scotland that utilized AR and VR to bring them to life.

Both these technologies represent a major paradigm shift in how we will all view the world. Technology succeeds when it makes what we already do cheaper, faster and better. The likes of the telephone, automobile, and airplane all demonstrate this.

At the moment we are in a period of hype with AR and VR. A lot of brands are trying to use these platforms to create cutting edge, innovative experiences and services. Much like the app gold rush that happened over ten years ago where most new apps were downloaded once and never used again, we are in a similar period of experimentation and innovation right now with AR and VR. The technology is ready and incredibly good, but what is needed are apps, experiences, and content that runs on them. Over the next 4 or 5 years, VR and AR are expected to grow exponentially. Now could be the time to innovate and break new ground before someone else does.

 

“We are now at the dawn of the 4th transformation.”

Futurologists, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

 

Futurologists Robert Scoble and Shel Israel predict we are at the dawn of the 4th Transformation with the three preceding periods being:

1. Text-based computer input in the 1970s

2. Graphical user interfaces (GUI) in the 1980s

3. Smart mobile computing with touch interfaces in the 2000s

The 4th period will see us move towards more immersive interfaces and experiences that we sense and touch and which allow us to have a more heightened sense of emotional connection with.

We had a lot of discussion around the moral and social implications of how this new period of discovery might impact our societies and how we could interact with the world around us as well as our predictions for what we should be looking out for as we work our way towards a more immersive future. We discussed real-time rendering and how that could allow us in the future to create any world we desire immediately just by asking for it. We also took a look at what IBM has been up to with The Vaunt, a relatively normal looking piece of wearable tech that gives you basic information and is the closest wearable pair of glasses we have seen that we might actually wear!

 

 

We also stepped back in time to the founding periods for both of these technologies. Did you know that the first virtual reality headset was invented in 1838! A crude device made of wood that allowed the viewer to be immersed into a still image. The likeness between that headset and a modern day one is uncanny!

 

1838 – Charles Wheatstone: the Stereoscope

 

While putting our presentation together we discovered so many brands and agencies creating incredible and exciting work that was pushing the boundaries of what could be done. If this is happening now then just think what it could be like in another 10 years. There is massive investment from all the big players with the likes of Google, Apple, Samsung, Sony, IBM and Microsoft all chucking in huge amounts of resource and cash towards developing this new digital platform. AR and VR are both essentially more arrows in your quiver for engaging your customers and changing the way they perceive and interact with your brand.

As adoption of these technologies becomes more mainstream and cheaper, we should start to transcend the hype which is when we will expect to see some truly groundbreaking apps, games and tools that will change the way we work and play. It should impact all areas of our lives. From health and education to tourism and marketing, and beyond.

So, are we at the beginning of the 4th transformation? Only time will tell.