AWE Wrap: New VR & AR Tools Help Brands Create Interactive Experiences

Alexis Macklin, Research Manager Alexis Macklin, Research Manager Insight Articles, Media & Entertainment

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Each June, the Augmented World Expo 2016 arrives in Santa Clara, CA and focuses on augmented reality, virtual reality and wearable technologies. This year, the overall mood of the conference was optimistic with many claiming that 2017 will be the year of AR. With 200 exhibitors, 200 speakers, and more than 4,000 attendees, the rapidly evolving AR and VR ecosystem was on display. Many topics and products were highlighted, but the three things you need to know from the 2-day conference are the interdependence of AR and VR platforms, the increasing availability of tools, and new solutions for creating branded experiences.

AR and VR are not as Independent as Most People Think.
There were many early product demonstrated on display among the exhibitors. And while many of the companies are still experimenting to find what works, others had developed platforms that could be used for both AR and VR.

[Image on right from a screenshot of Lifeliqe promotional video showcasing their AR capabilities. Image on left from TechCrunch demoing the VR capabilities of Lifeliqe.

Image on right from a screenshot of Lifeliqe promotional video showcasing their AR capabilities. Image on left from TechCrunch demoing the VR capabilities of Lifeliqe.

A combination of AR and VR is known as mixed reality where merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. This is what Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens are hoping to do. This experience incorporates AR graphics into the real world in an immersive way to get the feel of VR. This is an important turn in the developing industry where some developers hope to can take what is best of VR and AR and create a standard in the industry.

 

New Tools Help Create More Immersive VR and AR Experiences

Midas Touch Games demoed their physics engine to program characters to physically respond to contact by a VR user. This platform creates intelligent physics-based characters in the experience in hopes of creating another layer of realism to VR experiences. Gleechi created a solution to animate realistic hand motion in real time.

Realistic motion helps the user feel more immersed. If developers don’t use realistic looking characters and controlled movements, users won’t expect them to move realistically, removing them from the experience.

Users expect the immersive world they are in to compare to real life. Mechanics and physics play a large portion into a user feeling completely immersed. A world can look unrealistic and abstract and still immerse the user, but once a user can’t interact with an object or move correctly in the space, the illusion is broken and they are aware they aren’t in reality.

Even traditional media emphasizes on realism. Movies and video packages keep a 180 degrees rule where the camera should not jump from one side of a person to the other. The lack of natural movement is jarring and distracting to the viewer. Any media that uses a digital screen also must worry about the screen door effect, a low quality resolution display, making the user aware that there is a screen in front of them. These types of distracts take away from the experience.

New AR Platforms Help Consumers Interact with Their Favorite Brands


AWE exhibitors Zappar, Candy Lab, and more than a dozen others demoed solutions for how consumer brands can use AR to drive engagement with their products.

Image shows Angry Birds AR content created in partnership from Zappar and Rovio

Image shows Angry Birds AR content created in partnership from Zappar and Rovio

 

AR mobile apps are one way that brands are driving fan engagement and loyalty now, while we wait for more consumer AR headsets to reach the market. A brand’s fans can interact with the product in a unique hands-on and fun way, even with simple animated AR graphics from an AR code. According to the vendors and brands we spoke with at AWE, mobile AR platforms offer a compelling value proposition, despite sacrificing a higher fidelity AR experience.

Zappar showcased their interactive apps including Angry Birds, One Direction and Hasbro creations. Zappar works by allowing brands to create immersive content, which users activate using a custom AR code, launching AR or VR content.

Next week, I will dive into a few AR headsets from AWE and what to look forward to as these headsets get ready to hit the market. To learn more about what I learned at AWE, email me at alexis.macklin@greenlightvr.com.

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