How To Bring Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Together

Here’s how we can build past the lim­i­ta­tions of Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty (AR) and Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty (VR) to cre­ate a mul­ti-dimen­sion­al, Mixed Real­i­ty (MR).

Thom Gruhler By Thom Gruhler from Microsoft. Join the discussion » 1 comment

As the mass­es become engrossed in the vir­tu­al and aug­ment­ed worlds, con­sumers are increas­ing­ly find­ing that these new real­i­ties are as lim­it­ed as they are expan­sive. Too often as mar­keters and devel­op­ers we’re restrict­ing our think­ing to AR and VR, even defin­ing them in their own lanes, keep­ing them siloed, instead of allow­ing them to build on each oth­er to cre­ate a new kind of holis­tic expe­ri­ence.

If we want to tru­ly infuse these tech­nolo­gies into the main­stream, we have to find a way to build past the lim­i­ta­tions of AR and VR to cre­ate a mul­ti-dimen­sion­al, Mixed Real­i­ty (MR). Here’s how we can get there.

Combine Technology With Context

Too often when we work close­ly with a new tech­nol­o­gy, we get so entrenched with that spe­cif­ic advance­ment that we often end up with our head in the sand, for­get­ting the con­text around the expe­ri­ences we want to devel­op and what tech­nol­o­gy will best deliv­er it. There is noth­ing inher­ent­ly wrong with AR or VR, indi­vid­u­al­ly each plat­form offers real poten­tial, but by focus­ing so close­ly on either, we start to exist in a tech­nol­o­gy vac­u­um, ignor­ing the cru­cial part of the puz­zle where we look to how that tech­nol­o­gy fits with­in our world and the expe­ri­ence we want to deliv­er. MR offers many advan­tages in cre­at­ing inno­v­a­tive new expe­ri­ences, but is too often over­looked.

What Is MR?

Think of it this way, AR essen­tial­ly takes stan­dard real­i­ty and aug­ments it with over­laid images which his­tor­i­cal­ly have been more inter­rup­tive than immer­sive (think Google Glass) and VR is a closed and beau­ti­ful­ly immer­sive expe­ri­ence but these expe­ri­ences are often lim­it­ed in appli­ca­tion because the take the user out of their actu­al envi­ron­ment. MR is both an over­lay of images on your actu­al envi­ron­ment wher­ev­er you are, but deliv­ers the capa­bil­i­ty to cre­ate ful­ly immer­sive expe­ri­ences with inter­ac­tion capa­bil­i­ty that is nat­ur­al, intu­itive, and pre­cise. Think of the MR devel­oped ver­sion of Minecraft where the play­ers build their worlds in the actu­al room they are stand­ing in instead of a vir­tu­al screen.

Merge The Development Process

We hear time and time again that col­lab­o­ra­tion is a key dri­ver of suc­cess and cre­ativ­i­ty, so it’s curi­ous that too often com­pa­nies have not adopt­ed a col­lab­o­ra­tive process for how expe­ri­ences are built and where new tech­nol­o­gy can sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact the qual­i­ty or func­tion­al­i­ty of those expe­ri­ences. Devel­op­ers and cre­ative orga­ni­za­tions need to drop the assem­bly line think­ing for how prod­ucts and ser­vices go from ideation to devel­op­ment to dis­tri­b­u­tion and into con­sumers lives.

Start­ing with an unbri­dled obses­sion for the user and the expe­ri­ence they need in the world and then what tech­nol­o­gy can deliv­er is the right place to start, unfor­tu­nate­ly too often the IT team, mar­ket­ing team (and every­thing in between) rarely con­fide in each oth­er, result­ing in a final prod­uct that isn’t made with a con­sumer in mind. When it comes to use of VR, AR, and MR, we need to bring our teams togeth­er to ensure that we are think­ing about the con­sumer from the begin­ning of the devel­op­ment process. With this cross col­lab­o­ra­tion, we can bring an open mind­ed­ness to how we use the best of or even a com­bi­na­tion of these tech­nolo­gies (and per­haps many oth­ers) to imag­ine and cre­ate mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences that con­sumers can’t live with­out.

Assign Dedicated Teams

To tru­ly make a good prod­uct or expe­ri­ence that will bring some­thing new to the table, you can’t skimp. You have to make the com­mit­ment to have as part of your team, spe­cial­ists on the new tech­nolo­gies. Even if you are keep­ing an open mind about how you are col­lab­o­rat­ing and stay­ing aware of the con­texts you are work­ing with­in, there’s still no replace­ment for real experts in the tech­nol­o­gy and the inno­va­tion that can result from the learn­ings of tri­al and error inside your teams, not out­sourced.

Set aside a team that is pas­sion­ate about how these tech­nolo­gies can work with one anoth­er to devel­op sys­tems that can be applied in the real world. Rest assured, if you aren’t devot­ing a team to new tech­nolo­gies, some­one else will be and in a space where it’s tough to stay one step ahead of the game, that can mean trou­ble.

Thom Gruhler

Written by Thom Gruhler

Corporate Vice President, Apps and Services , Microsoft

Thom Gruhler is a change-agent for brands, bridging the gap between marketing, product development and technology. In his current role at Microsoft, Thom leads the Apps and Services team where he fuses strategy with creativity to deliver unique consumer experiences and accelerated business growth for the division. Before Apps and Services, he served as the corporate vice president of Windows Phone division, leading the global launch and marketing for the brand. Prior to Microsoft, Thom was Global Managing Partner of Telecom & Technology at McCann World Group.

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