With the rise of eCommerce, Extended Reality (XR) technology is becoming more widespread as well. However, because it is still a very new industry, many are unsure about how to enter the world of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality or how it could benefit their line of work. In this article, we at WeAR Studio compiled some key information for you to consider when reaching out to XR developers and questions to ask them in order to make the most of an opportunity.
Augmented Reality has been an enormous trend in the past few years – it is all over social media, various marketing campaigns, and even a useful tool within its own separate applications. Never too late to get on the wave – take into account these high level questions before pitching an AR project to any developers.
- What goals do I want to achieve with AR?
The potential of AR use in business marketing is near endless. It can boost sales, increase brand awareness – successful AR campaigns do this easily, especially on social media. AR could also enhance a brand’s communication with the end customers through interactive content, which in turn, could grow retention rates as well. Augmented reality can also serve as a visualization tool to educate customers, employees, partners, etc.
- How do I want AR content to appear?
There are various types of AR that can be implemented. For example, 3D content appeared on top of an image, i.e on a product’s packaging is called Marker-based AR, where a specific shape or image serves as the marker. You can also display Augmented content on any surface, i.e on the floor or a wall – this is Markerless AR, meaning all you need is a textured environment for the program to recognize. AR can also be anchored to a certain geolocation with Location-based AR – content would appear in specific geographic coordinates. These are the most common types of Augmented Reality.
- What platform should it run on?
Since there are many options depending on what an audience needs. For example, a separate mobile AR app would have the capability to make the most of an AR experience. An AR module in an existing app may be more complicated to implement technically, but is very beneficial for brands with a large existing in-app user base. Web AR would be a great solution for campaigns that are simpler in nature and require faster accessibility – just opening the experience in a browser on a PC or mobile device with no extra downloads. Similarly, AR could be implemented on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media platform that utilizes Augmented Reality filters.
- How to integrate AR with a Brand?
If it is part of a new business strategy, AR could become a part of the company’s digital ecosystem, as a new component. Additionally, it can be integrated into an existing native app or website to provide new functionality for the business. For consumer-based B2C companies AR would be valuable if integrated with loyalty programs to generate promo codes and discounts. The amount of interactivity can contribute to positive customer feedback. Most commonly done through social media, AR can be integrated with ad campaigns and analytics instruments to better understand customer behavior.
Although Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are often mentioned interchangeably, their functions and purposes can drastically differ. VR requires specific hardware and software that would work for it, in most cases. However, it is still possible to opt for handheld VR that is easily-accessible. In order to find what kind of VR suits your needs best, take a look at the following questions.
- What purpose is it for?
The most common one for VR is training & education – this works for employees, clients, and partners. Using VR for training purposes removes safety risks and minimizes time spent on onboarding processes as well as boosts the user’s confidence for whichever task it was implemented to simulate. Virtual Reality is also a platform to immerse & tell a story like no other, the function of this storytelling can be pretty much anything. Another thing only VR can do is recreate physical experience – be it tourism, mountain biking, job interviews – you name it. Thus, Virtual Reality can provide fun, and fully immersive experiences while achieving business goals.
- What kind of content does it need?
Since VR basically plays out a scene for its users, it is important to have an outline – a description of what happens to the user as well as major events that occur while being immersed. Also, because VR is a heavily-visual experience the graphics hold high importance – it can be 3D objects or 360º involving surroundings, animation, characters, etc. In short, any references and ideas are necessary for developers to carry out your vision into the virtual world. Lastly, it is crucial to examine the kind of interactivity the experience will allow – a user’s capabilities, the main mechanics, and logic behind interaction with virtuality. It is important to discuss all your ideas in order for the developers to be able to get as close as possible to implementing your vision for the VR project.
- What platform should it run on?
There are three main kinds of hardware you could go for. The best option for experiences with lots of movement and short duration is a standalone headset, such as the Oculus Quest 2. There are no wires attached to the headset, which allows you to move around freely in whichever location you are using VR in. Standalone headsets limit the amount of time the user can be present in the virtuality as well as limited processing power that is restricted for the sake of the headset’s weight and comfortable wear. For virtual experiences with higher content density and longer duration a PC or console hardware would be best, such as Sony Playstation VR, HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. There would be a wired connection to the PC that would do all the processing so that the user could enjoy a lasting experience with high quality visuals. Most of the aforementioned devices can be costly and hard to obtain for the average consumer. The alternative for unaffordable head mounted sets is handheld or mobile VR – content delivered to a smartphone or tablet. This type of experience is limited by the specifications carried by the user’s device, but is extremely valuable for easy transmission to the target audience. There are also inexpensive headsets available for mobile VR, such as Google Cardboard, that are merely used to hold the smartphone in front of the user’s eyes, but still provide a more immersive experience than just viewing the experience from one’s hands.
- Types of collectible data I need?
Virtual reality is a gold mine of statistics and data for companies to analyze, so be sure to consider the data you would like to track when the final product is available for use. Every movement, action, and communication between the user and the virtuality is monitored. One of the basics is the user behavior heatmap, which creates a visualization of the places the user interacted with the most compared to the rest of the parts of the experience. When VR is used for training and education, all the testing for newly-acquired knowledge can be graded within the virtuality, creating data from a test of the user’s knowledge & skills. With any type of VR experience there are things that the system cannot detect which makes a great opportunity to request a user’s self-report to provide feedback on the virtual experience.
All developers may have their own approach to creating Extended Reality content, but we included all the main points that would help you work with any agency to create immersive experiences. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. We can provide a briefing and make estimates about what could work best for a specific business or brand.