In a past article, we talked about AR/AR concepts and statistics data such as the number of people adopting this kind of technology and how many people around the world work remotely. This time around, we will be focusing on the pros and cons of this leading tech and the costs of implementing it in our business (and maybe in our daily routine - who knows what the future holds!). The following are some key points to keep in mind regarding VR/AR.
- VR, when implemented properly, can be an incredibly engaging sensory ride. Using computer-generated imagery (CGI), there are no limits aside from money and imagination when creating other worlds, product demos, or spaces in novel and interesting ways.
- When applied to education, VR makes learning easier and more comfortable.
- Virtual reality users can experiment with artificial environments
- VR is a fragmented market. Headset pricing ranges from about $15 USD (Google Cardboard using a smartphone) to $1,500 USD (HTC Vive Pro) and many choices with widely varying capabilities in between. VR standards are in the early adoption stage and content created for one platform will usually not work with another.
- Content creation tends to be customized and, oftentimes, expensive. Best practices for effective and engaging content creation are still being worked out as well.
- VR is often an isolating, individual experience – it takes you somewhere else, a place removed from the existing environment. This is the opposite effect of events where one of the main goals is to bring people together and interact in a group.
- VR is slow for demos. It takes time to configure the headset, to put on/adjust the headset, explain the controls, and for the user to view the content. Even if the content is only two to three minutes long, an exhibitor would be lucky to get 15-20 people per hour through the system.
- AR, when used properly, can provide very useful and engaging information layered onto a real-world scene.
- Basic AR apps using smartphones are well-established.
- Apple’s latest phones/tablets and AR developer kit have some very significant new capabilities. Newer Google Android phones also have strong AR functionality. Smartphone users can see furniture in their own home before buying (IKEA), find their way to an airport gate (American Airlines AR), play games (Monster Park), see restaurant menu options in rotating 3D before ordering (KabaQ), measure distances very precisely (AR measuring tape), and much more. As these newer phones become widely used, it is likely that AR apps will see mainstream use with lots of opportunities for exhibitions and events.
- New tools have been created to help doctors during surgeries by allowing them to be constantly aware of patient data during the procedure.
- AR/MR headsets are pricey (Hololens: $3,500 USD; Magic Leap $2,295 USD) and have some serious limitations in their current forms. Both have a limited range of fields and the gesture controls are somewhat difficult to use. We will not see widespread consumer use until costs lower substantially and the form factor improves.
- AR/MR headsets are geeky looking and will be used only for specific applications; they will not be meant for everyday use in the foreseeable future.
Best Use Case
Despite several downside issues, there are various ways VR can be used effectively for exhibitions and events.
- VR site inspections: when used properly, the immersive realism of a VR site inspection of a hotel or destination can be the next best thing to being there.
- Demos: despite the slowness, a VR demo can show products in a very engaging way and, oftentimes, in a manner that could not be shown in real life.
- VR booth and stage set design: a large exhibit booth can cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Before spending the money, a VR walk-through allows a buyer to see almost exactly how the display will look and make changes before building. This service is provided by exhibit and event design companies such as Freeman.
- VR Room Diagramming: 3D room diagramming has been around for several years; the next natural step to take this to VR. Companies such as AllSeated have been among the first to do this, providing a great way of experiencing how the room will look and feel before an event. It is expected that other room diagramming software companies with more functionality will follow suit in the future.
- Product demos using tethered tablet computers: AR can bring a product or a picture to life. It can add video, sound, and more. With a preinstalled AR app, all the attendee needs to do is pick up the tablet and engage with the demo. AR developers such as Zappar can open up a range of event-focused gaming, navigation, and product/event information details.
- Product demos using attendee phones: although basic smartphone AR apps have been available for a decade, they have not seen widespread use at events. But as AR goes mainstream in the consumer market with much greater capabilities than in the past, the opportunities for incorporating AR in product demos, event signage or obtaining other event information in an engaging manner abound.
- AR video walls and mirrors: incorporating AR in a video display and adding gesture recognition can provide engaging displays that, if done properly, will be guaranteed to draw a crowd at an exhibit booth or any other event space.
Some Examples of VR/AR Costs
VR application development costs come down to the kind of content you are aiming to create. Sometimes you will need a mobile VR application, other times you are looking for a VR game. Some applications can be built with simple 360 videos, while others will be built in full computer-generated based environments.
360-3D interactive video: $10,000 for each minute filmed + post-production. Example: https://youtu.be/xAbEm4_8K3g\
Computer-generated based environment applications: between $40k and $70k for a non-gaming mobile VR application. Example: https://youtu.be/IgvI2xdYp-E
Computer-generated based gaming applications: between $50k and $100k for gaming-based projects. Example: depends on the complexity and other factors, such as the kind of platform it will be released on, the quality of animations, etc.
Marker-based AR or image recognition based AR provides additional information about a scanned object. An object is detected with a front-facing camera and then proceeds to provide information on the screen regarding the object. This allows the user to view the object in more detail from various angles or potentially rotate the image in 3D as well.
Marker-based AR: $5-10k per 3D modeled object interaction and UI. Example: https://youtu.be/qhq5leJt280
Room Scale AR: $40-50k per room, depending on the number of objects.
Although it’s clear that there are many possibilities to immerse ourselves in the VR/AR world and take advantage of this leading tech, we also need to consider the applications and the cost before starting a journey into virtual and augmented worlds.