Untangling the Extended Reality knot and why you should be using it to help your company grow
Let’s be honest, there are lots of conflicting interpretations and definitions of Extended Reality (XR) floating around. To help you untangle the knot, we’ve put together a quick and easy guide to help you understand what XR is, why you should use it and how you can harness the endless possibilities that come along with it.
Picture this: it’s a cloudy day in March 2020, and society has just been shut down because of a global pandemic. In your calendar for the coming week, you have five sales meetings (three of which are out of town) all of which are now cancelled due to government imposed travel restrictions. You quickly download Zoom or Teams, but just as quickly realize that talking to someone through a flat videochat just isn’t the same as sitting across from them. And explaining how your complex products work isn’t easy or fun through a video call - and the times you’ve done it in the past only resulted in your customers quickly losing interest. If you were alive in 2020 and working in sales, this situation might sound familiar.
But what if there was a different way to present your products? Imagine if you had a digital version of the real world where you could always meet your customers in person - creating the perfect space for you to interact and engage with your customers and where customers could interact with full-size versions of your products.
“With Extended Reality you’re never bound to your physical location.”
Sound far-fetched? It’s not. The technology is already here. In fact, this is exactly how our sales team managed to transform traditional and boring sales pitches into true immersive customer experiences. The technology behind it is called Extended Reality (commonly known as XR). And when unfolded, XR covers three main areas:
While some of these technologies might be completely new to you, you’re likely already familiar with many of them. For instance, Augmented Reality is already used in many of our favorite social media apps (think filters on Snapchat and Instagram), and increasing numbers in the gaming industry are switching from traditional video games to immersive VR games where you find yourself right in the center of the action.
However, Extended Reality is much more than social media and gaming. At its core, it enables people to meet in virtual, 3D spaces and interact with digital objects - whether you’re in the office, at home or in a public space. With Extended Reality you’re never bound to your physical location
Virtual Reality (VR)
Within Extended Reality, VR is probably the most immersive experience as it allows you to enter a completely new digital world. When you put on the VR headset, what you see and experience is a simulated reality. As you probably already guessed, this unlocks some pretty cool features.
You can interact and play with objects without any of the limitations we know from the real world. Fancy lifting a thousand-pound machine or sticking your head inside to inspect how it’s made? This level of freedom lets you meet people on your terms, whether it’s for your weekly all-hands, training new hires, or meeting with customers.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is less immersive than virtual reality. Whereas VR encapsulates you into a new digital world, AR allows you to stay in the real world and add digital objects through your smartphone or tablet. If you’re one of the 1.5 billion users of Snapchat, Instagram or Pokémon Go, you’re probably already familiar with Augmented Reality. But it also has other uses.
Imagine you’re shopping for a new couch but are unsure on whether it’ll fit in your living room. Instead of spending ages on figuring out the dimensions of your living space and risk ordering the wrong product, you can simply use augmented reality to place the couch (or rather, a 3D version of itself) in full size right where you want it to go. Similarly, if you work in sales, you never have to bring products with you on the road. Imagine, you can have your entire catalogue in your pocket.
To put it simple, this not only saves you time and money shipping product samples to potential customers but also saves your customers the unpleasant surprise of ordering the wrong product.
Mixed Reality (MR)
Now that we’ve covered both VR and AR, let’s dive into what happens when we bring them together. That’s when we get a Mixed Reality and start merging the physical and virtual world. While AR enables you to view and move digital objects in real environments through your smartphone or tablet and VR encapsulates you into a new virtual world, MR is the hybrid between the two. With MR glasses like the HoloLens you can see everything around you in the real world, interact with digital objects and even share your point of view with others. Sounds spacey? Mixed Reality enables you to see what others see, create DIY training scenarios, and support your co-workers right when and where they need it.
For example, if you’re training to become a doctor, instead of only using books to learn (we definitely are not suggesting to skip the books) you can perform surgery on a digital hologram of a human body (right in your classroom). You can work together with classmates while you dive into a digital version of a real patient, and if you run into problems, just call your professor through the live video chat and have him/her complete the task with you. Or simply display holographic objects to guide you. That’s what we call next level remote support and learning.
To Sum Up
Simply put, Extended Reality gives you the ability to explore virtual, 3D spaces as if you're actually there - and convincingly share parts of those worlds in real life. It covers everything from using Augmented Reality to transform your face in Snapchat, exploring completely immersive digital worlds in Virtual Reality, and convincingly adding digital objects as natural parts of the real world in Mixed Reality. It has a wide range of uses - from upskilling workers with complicated tasks, viewing furniture in your home before purchase, to compelling sales pitches that forever will change how your customers view presentations.
If you're like millions of others and need a better way to connect with colleagues and customers in a Covid-free environment, then book a free demo and give us 30 minutes to show you how easy it is to get started.