A few days ago we had the opportunity to collaborate with Canal Innovation, Sacyr’s blog on technology and R&D, to provide our vision and opinions on the level of adoption that the extended reality is reaching among the general public.
Used to work and talk about projects generally oriented to the field of large companies, it has been a pleasant experience to reflect on the other side of the coin: the use of virtual reality, augmented and mixed between private users.
We believe that the conclusions drawn from the analysis are interesting and that is why we want to share with you the complete interview that will soon be published on the Sacyr online channel.
Will the use of these technologies be generalized among private users? When?
The generalization of these technologies at the user level is experiencing a slower process than expected four or five years ago. When the first virtual reality devices (or VR for its acronym in English) appeared, a certain media bubble was generated that spoke of astronomical figures and a massive adoption of the extended reality that today is far from being fulfilled. At least at the user level.
However, this does not mean that these technologies are not growing and occupying a growing market share. The adoption process is constantly advancing and already exceeds figures that allow us to talk about consolidated technology. In fact we are seeing how some uses of this technology, such as augmented reality filters, are having great success, and how the brands themselves have seen a reef there so that their potential customers use this technology to “test” their items. and share them on the various social platforms.
As for virtual reality, 2019 has meant a huge growth compared to the previous years in the gaming sector thanks to the latest devices that have gone on the market, with possibilities that double or triple the benefits of the previous years every year in terms of to quality and immersion of experiences.
Of the three technologies that make up the extended reality – virtual, augmented and mixed – it is the latter that lags behind at a user level, largely because it is the most recent of them all, but mostly because the few developer companies The hardware necessary for its use is much more focused on the professional field than on entertainment.
What do private users use these immersive techniques for today?
In the case of virtual reality, its use is mainly leisure and entertainment, especially the gaming.
But more everyday apps also appear through augmented reality that, due to its ease of use, are spreading very quickly. In this, the creation of the AR Core software for Android devices, and AR Kit, for Apple, which have facilitated the work of the developers, has materialized, which has resulted in the emergence of numerous apps available in the different stores . We talk about applications of education, decoration, astronomy, etc., which allow combining reality with digitized elements to live much more intense experiences from virtually any mobile device.
What are the main limitations for the use of these technologies to become widespread?
If for example we talk about virtual reality, less than two years ago we could argue issues such as the high price, the limited quality of experiences or the discomfort of the devices themselves. But the truth is that these handicaps have been disappearing recently thanks to the rapid advances that developers are applying on their devices.
For example, today we can acquire Oculus Quest that offer autonomy, a great quality of vision and an immense catalog of applications, for less than € 450, half of what a high-end phone costs. The problem is essentially the entry barrier, users still have a hard time acquiring such a device, although those who try it become addicted and evangelizers of virtual reality.
Another thing is mixed reality. There are only a couple of models in the market and with a price and a catalog of applications that places them in a spectrum away from the general public.
What are the applications that have succeeded so far among private users?
In the virtual reality sector the leading application this year has been Beat Saber, a game that combines physical skills and music, and has exceeded one million units sold in Oculus.
As for the augmented reality we have already mentioned the great boom that social filters are experiencing on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, but there are also numerous AR games that are already among the top positions of the most downloaded applications in Apple stores and Google. This is the case of the well-known Tik Tok or the children’s game Leo AR.
Apart from entertainment, in what other fields do these users use or use these technologies?
Gradually, the AR is opening a gap between the different daily uses, as we see in the recent implementation that Google Maps has made thanks to which we can use augmented reality to help us orient ourselves while we walk.
The applications for education are also beginning to find their place in the market, which thanks to the combination of a real element such as a textbook that acts as a marker, facilitates the detailed visualization of the object in an enlarged way study. This is the case of Complete Anatomy, an app for the study of the human body that is having great success and is used repeatedly in schools in the United States, or Night Sky to know the constellations.
Brands have also seen a great opportunity in this field to boost their sales. This is the case of Ikea, which in 2017 presented Ikea place, an application with which we can place the furniture of its catalog in any room of our house and check how they would look before buying them.
What is the strength of these technologies in the fields mentioned in the previous question?
Both the immersion capacity that allows virtual reality and that extra layer of information that we find in augmented reality are probably the two main added values that these technologies offer us, and that make us enjoy the experiences in a much more intense than with any other current technology.
How have virtual, augmented and mixed reality devices changed in recent years?
In recent years there has been a revolution in each and every one of the fields that make up the extended reality thanks to the different technical advances that we have known recently.
In the case of virtual reality, without a doubt, the biggest leap has been the appearance of stand-alone devices, which are those VR glasses that do not need to be connected to a cable computer or need a mobile device as a processor. This has made the market more powerful and more comfortable devices to enjoy greater autonomy the user, only limited by the limitations of the physical space in which we find ourselves, which has led to a significant improvement in the experience lived.
On the other hand, augmented reality has also experienced great advances both in software (with the aforementioned AR Core and AR Kit softwares) and in hardware with the facial recognition built into the cameras of the latest Smartphone models. This, on the one hand, has given the necessary tools to developers to create new and better applications and, on the other, the possibility of spreading much more massively among users.
Finally, in terms of mixed reality, 2019 has seen the launch of two high-quality devices: Magic Leap and Microsfot Holollens 2. While it must be said that this technology is the one that is furthest from price and use, it is at Today almost exclusively focused on professional use for companies.
Why have these immersive techniques penetrated more strongly in the field of business than in the general public?
That companies are the first to adopt a new technology is a constant that has been taking place since the so-called digital revolution began. We saw it at the beginning of the internet or even in mobile telephony, which had its first success stories in military and business fields and already in a second phase among the general public.
If we talked before that the augmented reality is the one that was experiencing the greatest success among users, in the business case the tables are reversed and it is the virtual reality, and to a lesser extent the mixed, the technologies that have the greatest implementation are having.
The reason is simple, these immersive technologies represent a great saving in costs and time in numerous technical or research fields. Some cases in which isostopy has developed solutions for large companies has been the training of skilled workers or in high-risk environments. Thanks to VR, they can carry out a large part of this training in a totally realistic environment where the operator will be able to familiarize themselves with their tasks without the costs or dangers that would imply having to do that training in the real work environment.
Another field in which we usually collaborate is the architectural for the visualization of the final project. Also large companies in the industrial field have long since had a virtual reality department for their daily tasks, such as allowing engineers to guide technicians in maintenance or repair of parts, which can be located thousands of kilometers away, which carry Mixed reality glasses.
And of course the field of marketing, which has found in augmented reality a reef for viral campaigns that is a real revolution for marketing departments.
Will users use these immersive techniques in their day to day? For what? What can they do today is unthinkable?
It is difficult to predict that it will happen in a few years with such a changing technology and that it is advancing at vertigo speed. There are certain issues that years ago were taken for granted that were going to be everyday today but are still science fiction at the moment.
If we did a divination exercise, many experts agree that tomorrow the mixed reality will be the prevailing technology and that it will even unseat even mobile devices. According to these predictions we will all have a small device of great comfort that we will have placed in front of our eyes as glasses, which will allow us to interact with the physical environment that surrounds us by superimposing various layers of information.
Imagine for example that we can go down the street with our virtual assistant, who walks by our side dodging the obstacles that he finds while reminding us that at 12 we have a meeting or he tells us which street we have to take to get to the hairdresser before the traffic. It sounds like science fiction, but if at the beginning of the 2000s we had said that our mobile phones were going to be computers from which we were going to be able to do almost anything we would not have believed it either.