October 26, 2017

Enhanced reality is more real than it might seem

Ksenia Avetisova

Head of Enhanced Reality Lab & Strategic Innovation Lead, Data-Driven Businesses, Tieto

Augmented World Expo EU is the largest industry event in Augmented & Virtual technology. It brought dedicated enthusiasts, startups and research institutions together with corporations and large companies taking the AR & VR solutions into use in various industries. The conference provided us with valuable insights to fuel our journey with the Tieto Enhanced Reality Lab to explore the opportunities in the area together with our partners, customers and users.

Choosing Munich as location for the event was a logical move - the city is a home to fewworld-class industry players - such as Metaio, a company which has been recently acquired by Apple and is considered the baseline for AR Kit. The conference ran over 2 days, but the program has been extremely packed with various content, including successful use cases, learnings and impact, trends and future forecast. Three simultaneous tracks were running most of the time, as well as a large expo floor with close to 100 exhibitors brought the latest hardware & software innovation to satisfy our curiosity and provide some hands on experience. There have been multiple takes on applying the tech to training and education, medicine, collaboration, entertainment and art.

To my positive surprise, the focus of conversation is more and more shifting from pure tech to the impact of immersive interactivity on user experience. New paradigms of storytelling and interaction are being established, and even hardware companies are realising that UX is playing great part in the rate of adapting the innovation by greater audience. The augmented reality promises above all the intuitive interface, and shorter learning curve, yet proven rise in the efficiency of operations. Several of the enablers that were brought to light include Apple AR kit, that is instantly covering an impactful number of devices already out on the market and in consumers hands. Also Google Tango, which makes visual positioning services more easily available.

“We have been longing for the breakthrough in hardware, such as light field technology, which is still lacking from most of the products out on the market.” - Helmut Krämer, AR / VR evangelist, Tieto XR Lab  

Even though the technology is not yet mainstream, it is projected to grow and gain wider acceptance. Smart glasses might still be slightly too industrial-looking to be considered fashionable, yet few ongoing projects are aiming to bring them to same look and feel as sunglasses. Or combine the personal HUD with wireless headphones, bringing extended functionality and hands-free interaction capability to familiar devices.

Confirming their great success rate of trend predictions Gartner shared the 5 key trends to keep in mind when considering the VR / AR strategy:

  1. By 2020, 100M consumers will shop in AR. 
    We have seen some exciting examples such as augmenting experience of trying products on your body, or recognising the object by pointing the app to it and being able to instantly purchase it by-passing stores or physical showrooms.
  2. By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen. 
    With the advancement of digital personal assistants, backed by machine learning and natural language processing, the interaction with tech will become more casual and word-based. Chatbots will enter our lives in such ways that we might noteven realise that we are dealing with a non-human.
  3. By 2022, the IoT will save consumers and businesses in the range of USD 1 trillion a year.
    Considering an industry use case, predictive maintenance is capable of saving 10-20% over preventive measures. The interaction with digital twins in virtual space instead of physical objects will gain more traction. Tieto has already been working on several projects alongside this trend to recognize its power.
  4. By 2021, 20% of all activities in which an individual engages will involve at least one of the top seven digital giants (companies such as Apple, Amazon, Alibaba and Google). 
    The amount of data generated is constantly increasing, and access to this data provides opportunity to deliver more relevant and timely services, which in turn also locks users. On a greater scale, this trend will drive more collaboration with digital giants’ platforms and ecosystems.
  5. By 2020, 40% of employees can cut their healthcare costs by wearing a fitness tracker.
    Wellness trend will drive corporate health monitoring and fitness programs, as it is increasingly being recognised as part of the employee experience. We are already exploring the potential of usinghealth data combined with intelligent environments and virtual / augmented technologies to enhance wellbeing and wellness coaching. 

As can be expected, AI & ML are gaining more and more importance. Not only AI is being taught inside the virtual environments, for example in case of autonomous cars, but also researchis being conducted on using humans as sensors to teach the AI from the first-person perspective. This combined with smart glasses tech is already producing impressive results in predicting users’ needs, recognising sign language and assisting visually impaired to sense the world around them.

“Few highlights were the advances in object model tracking (vs. image tracking) and Prezi AR, as refreshing approach to corporate presentations" Pasi Muranen, Technical Architect, Tieto XR Lab & DDB

With advancement of hardware, speed of platforms and ecosystems development that we’ve witnessed it is obvious that the augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology (XR tech) is leaving the realm of being considered “futuristic” and enters the state of being accessible, and providing visible business value. In the upcoming years it will be nearly mandatory for companies to create AR / VR strategy to stay competitive in their industry and beyond.

Our team is ready to share more insights from the event, and guide you in creating a strategic roadmap when it comes to virtual and augmented experience and technology. Welcome to visit our Lab in Tieto HQ in Keilaniemi Espoo and get the first-hand experience with services and tech gadgets.

Join us at Slush for the launch of the Virtual Forest service, created for forest owners by Metsä Group and welcome to Tieto Slush booth to experiece it yourself. 

 

 

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