8 KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT AUGMENTED & VIRTUAL REALITY
There's a lovely (fictional) story doing the rounds on the internet at the moment about cargo ship with a broken engine. Despite numerous technicians attempting to fix it the problem couldn't be found. At their wits end the management call an old tech with 40 years experience. He wanders around for five minutes, pulls a hammer from his bag and starts the engine with a tap. Fixed. A month later the management receive a large bill and demand an explanation as to why they're hit with 10k for 5 minutes work. They get a two line item list: Tap with Hammer 25 bucks, knowing where to tap 9,975.
It's simple little story and one that we hear growing up in various parts of the world. Pay an expert to solve the problem quickly because that's what they specialise in. Hire amateurs and expect to waste time and money as a result. Yet in 2016 we're faced with the internet. The internet makes everyone an expert. On everything. Why should I pay for a doctor or waste time visiting a clinic when I can google my sore finger (and of course diagnose myself with cancer in just 6 clicks!).
2016 in the emerging technology world of augmented and virtual reality feels a lot like the scenario before the old man turns up. Thanks to some interesting applications including Pokemon's barnstorming hit there's an interest in how these technologies can be applied to a huge range of industries. Agencies are exploring it for their clients, clients are exploring it for themselves. Museums are getting their feet wet, theme parks are going headlong into VR leading to AR.
The problem though, given the headless rush at $$$, is that most people have no experience in any of it all. Companies with experience in the industry are little more than 5 years old, but 5 years in AR is 20 years in any other business. Trying to sell in AR to marketing, entertainment or education industries prior to 2010 was almost impossible - trust me, we tried it! So how can you possibly confess to be able to build a fantastic solution if you've only been working in the AR industry for 12 months?
In no particular order, here's some watchpoints when commissioning AR in any development:
Forget what you know and think big
Augmented reality offers the chance to travel time, resurrect anyone or anything, to change the face of a million industries. Don't use to display advertising, life is short
Agencies with(out) digital experience
The majority of agencies that are currently talking to clients about delivering AR experiences and products have little or no experience of AR or likely VR design. Print, web or banner ad design experience does not count. Or help. AR, and to some extent VR, requires a team versed in the touchpoints of the medium. Most agencies talking to clients are actually just talking to companies like us. Sad but true.
Don't forget content costs
Given the lack of knowledge in the industry, pricing is still wild and unpredictable. Lack of precedent leads to nasty surprises. Many companies are being quoted software development but not content creation for example. AR and VR are driven by content - and content is not cheap.
Companies in emerging technology need partners to validate their offers. Period.
A bad idea isn't enhanced by AR
Augmented reality offers myriad possibilities to revolutionise how people interact and educate. What AR does not do is offer the chance to turn a bad idea into a good one. The days of "adding AR" to things for fun are thankfully gone. Much like all technology, it's the idea that counts - everything else is delivery.
AR on mobile
As of August 2016, augmented reality experiences on mobile can only be delivered via application download. Failure to consider how the app is pushed to users will result in disappointment.
Pay for advice
Given the evolution of the technology and the pace at which it is changing accept the fact that you don't know - and let's be honest the client/customer relationship is often cold and doesn't foster innovation. Ask the experts to provide consultancy on how best to incorporate AR into your offering.
They know where to "tap the hammer".
Written by Alex Poulson CEO of INDE, an Augmented Reality company