Augmented Reality 

Is There a Place for Augmented Reality in Education?

So far when the concept of augmented reality is brought up, it is easily associated with entertainment. However, is there a use for AR in the field of education? There is no denying the fact that it was Pokemon Go that truly ushered in the massive interest in augmented reality.

Soon after, social media started applying AR to provide more interactive ways their users could utilize their tools. When it comes to the classroom environment, there is nothing worse than another boring lecture. With our technology only getting better with time, it is high time that other parts of our life adapts as well.

Augmented reality can really play an integral part in providing a better learning experience for all. Here are some ways we think AR could play a critical part in education:

Exploration

Augmented reality is truly helpful when it comes to superimposing information on real-world views. This can be really helpful for younger kids when they are out for a exploratory walk. Imagine going out and being able to identify different plants along with pertinent information about them.

This is also a great way to establish a familiarity with the surrounding environment.

Immersion

As anyone who has ever gone through school will tell you, there is nothing more boring than a book. Especially a book which you will need to learn from! Augmented reality can help provide learning experiences.  Imagine having to utilize and mix chemicals through augmented reality. Not only will students be able to learn as they are supposed to, it also provides a unique way of utilizing ready technology.

On-the-go Learning

Who says that learning has to stay online in the classrooms? There are a lot of augmented reality applications and software that goes quite well with technology that we are already using like smartphones. Apps like Google Translate enable functionality and learning to go hand in hand.

There are more and more apps like that coming out everyday. It would simply be silly if we did not take advantage of the benefits that this can provide for everyone as a whole.

To close, we believe that augmented reality does have a place in the field of education. Learning from computer software has already been accepted. Why would it be any different to utilize this more modern form of learning? Like we said, our technology is advancing and we all need to adapt in order to usher in a better future for the generations that we are leaving behind.

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Virtual Reality 

User Tips for You: How to Use Virtual Reality Properly

Whenever you use virtual reality, it is easy to get lost in the immersive experience. The well-crafted worlds can hold your interest for hours. However, it is important to use the technology responsibly. Here are a few user tips on how you can utilize virtual reality properly:

Read Up

When you buy your first virtual reality gear, it will come with a manual. It would be in your best interest to read up on all the aspects regarding your VR gear. Pay close attention to how to care for the gear and how to set it up. If you can, have a friend with you to help guide you through the process.

Manuals often come with a frequently asked question section. Utilize this appropriately in order to set yourself up for good immersive experiences.

Set it up Properly

When you buy a VR headset, it is important that everything is in the right order. Is it fitting your head just right? Are there proper safety harnesses to ensure that the thing will not go flying when you start moving?

VR games, particularly those in the horror genre, are made to illicit often violent reactions out of the people that use them. So it is important that you set it up properly in a way that will not end up damaging you, your property, and the unit itself. While virtual reality units are not that expensive, it is still generally good to care for your VR unit if you really want to get the most out of it.

Get Rest

Virtual reality is best experienced when you have sufficient rest. As it is normally a rather immersive experience, you end up pepping your visual and auditory senses with a lot of stimulation. If you are not well-rested, you end up providing yourself with a lackluster experience.

On the same vein, set yourself a limit on how long you are going to use virtual reality. Too much virtual reality use may stress your body—this can also lead to a lackluster experience. We understand that it may be quite tempting to stay in your virtual reality simulation as there is just so much you can do in there.

To close, with all things there must be moderation. Virtual Reality is truly an incomparable experience—provided that you do use it properly. Try to look back on how you utilize virtual reality in your life. What ways have you been neglecting proper usage?

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Technology 

The Top Myths About Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Debunked!

With pretty much everything in life, there are misconceptions and myths being touted around. Today, we shed a bit of light on the top myths held about VR and AR. It seems that even with the earliest roots of humanity, we have held a lot of myths.

If you are not familiar with the concept of a myth, it is normally defined as a widely held belief that is actually false. Here are some of the top myths about VR and AR:

Virtual Reality is Expensive

We are not going to lie about this one: it used to be. Back in the 90s, there was a massive public interest in virtual reality and people wanted to make money out of it. As such, they priced virtual reality sets at astronomical rates. However, the experience that they provided was frankly terrible.

The graphics were blocky and the experience was not intuitive or immersive. It was rather jarring and quite a failure at being a gateway to a different world. While that would have been that, VR has experienced a massive uptick in improvement.

Today, virtual reality for public consumption is not expensive at all. If you do a Google search for it, you will find a lot of offerings for virtual reality headsets and experiences. The brands which Let’s Play Gamers use are fairly inexpensive and can cost around $3. As graphics continue to evolve, the experience is only going to get better and better.

Augmented Reality Compromises User Safety

The app that largely introduced the world to Augmented Reality was a company named Niantic and their game: Pokemon Go.  Users worldwide were able to catch much believe pocket monsters in seemingly real life setting—something that die-hard Pokemon fans have always wanted to do.

What shortly followed was a lot of reports of people getting mugged, trespassing, and many other events that put users in dangerous situations. However, this situation is more of the way Augmented Reality is used and not how AR performs.

This under the same logic as blaming cars and not the people that drive them—it is the principle of blaming the object and not the one who is using the object! While what happened to those people is highly unfortunate, it is simply unfair to lay the blame on AR’s door. Although, it is quite admirable of the makers of Pokemon Go to put up reminders that should, quite frankly, be filed under common sense.

People as a whole needs to start taking responsibility for their actions and stop blaming the medium. Augmented reality should be used responsibly in order to safeguard you from any real-world incidents that have nothing to do with the augmented reality platform itself.

To close, virtual reality and augmented reality are much more than what detractors say about them. Hopefully, this article was able to shed some light on some common myths held about these technological marvels. What myths about VR and AR have you heard? Do you think that they have a home in fact or simply another myth?

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Technology Virtual Reality 

7 Things To Consider When Running A VR/AR Conference

Two of the most creatively innovative and exciting technology trends of the last decade or so, has undoubtedly been Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR and AR for short, respectively).  If you are looking to run a VR/AR event of some kind in the near future, then we are not surprised because of these types of technology work really within an event or conference type environment. 

They can help to make an event that might have otherwise been a little dry or just like all the others being held by your competitors become something more thrilling and exciting. 

Before you get those personalised lanyards from Digital ID sorted and we go any further, it may be worth clearing something up, for anyone who may think they are interchangeable – as the terms mean two completely different concepts. 

  • Virtual Reality – The whole idea behind virtual reality is to create something that seems ‘almost real’.  According to the dictionary, it is, therefore, a computer-generated three-dimensional environment or image that you can interact with in a physical or seemingly real way using special gear like a helmet fitted with a screen on the inside or gloves that have sensors fitted onto them.
  • Augmented Reality – Although it can easily be confused for the above, Augmented Reality differs from Virtual Reality in that rather than creating new objects or environments that ‘seem real’, it adds things to the existing environment.  The most popular and famous example of this would be the mobile game Pokemon Go.

So, now that’s out of the way, let’s look at 7 things you should consider when planning an event using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. 

Host The Entire Event Virtually

An entirely new world of events and conferences was introduced with the advent of virtual events.  Instead of people needing to actually attend the same location as others to enjoy an event, it is now possible to host one completely using virtual reality.  Absolutely everything from attending to presenting, interacting with networking can all be done virtually.

Use Tech To Encourage A Greater Number Of People To Your Event

Perhaps the above is too much, you can still use this great new technology in great ways to produce a hybrid event.  This means, as well as the normal aspects of a conference or event such as speakers, demonstrations, and physical attendees, there is also a virtual audience of attendees of people who otherwise would not or could not make it to the actual event in person.

Although it sounds a lot like streaming an event or conference on their television or computer screen, not only would a virtual attendee be able to see what was happening at the event, they’d be able to take part and experience it too.

Consider Gamification Of Some Kind

A popular trend nowadays, given the increase of this technology being used at events, is what is known as ‘event gamification’.  If this is the first time you have heard this phrase, where have you been?  Basically, gamification is using recognisable aspects of game-playing, such as rules, competition and point scoring, for example, in other activities and events.

In this case, adding another dimension to your event for promotional purposes by creating a game that attendees can participate in.  It is relatively simple to do, particularly if you are planning to use VR and AR at your event anyway.  VR gaming sets are easy and popular to use and can add an extra degree of excitement to your event to elevate above the norm.  You can score guests points for each person they swapped professional details with to encourage networking or give prizes to people who attend all the different seminars and demonstrations.  Whatever you decide, make it relevant to what the event or conference is about, but most importantly – make it fun and interactive. 

Displaying Products In A Whole New Way

Although displaying a product is usually enough to whet people’s appetite, there are certain products that more is required to really sell them.  For instance, a food production machine with a unique function.  While pictures and pamphlets describing and displaying it are all fine and good; what if you could show your guests the product being made by a machine?  You could use VR to show this, further justifying it.  Even if it’s just a virtual mock-up of what the product will look like when it has been manufactured and finished – a virtual version that guests can look at and virtually touch or feel, might help them to be won over to its potential. 

Improving Networking At Events

If you understand anything about running events of any kind, including those using VR and AR elements, you will know that networking is always incredibly important.  Particularly as it is one of the main reasons why people go to events in the first place.  AR can be used as a way of displaying professional information for each guest, so people can get to know each other a little before they even start talking to them.  Although it might sound a far-fetched step up from personalised lanyards, tech like Google Glass makes it possible.

Virtual Information Booths

Obviously, no conference or event is really complete without some helpful advice and information booths dotted around the venue.  while you may be able to use some elements of Augmented Reality on information booths, via QR codes and other similar methods; there is a way you could use virtual reality to completely fabricate information booths that don’t actually take up floor space, because they are virtual. 

Make sure all the formation is included and your guests will be able to access it in the virtual realm.  This could help make space for a larger capacity audience.

Don’t Overload Or Try To Do Too Much

Although you may want to put on the funkiest, most out there event full of all the latest VR and AR techniques – be careful not to overload your event.  Including too many different elements that have the potential to clash with one another, could make it chaotic and hard to enjoy for your guests.

As you can see there are plenty of different ideas and concepts to consider when it comes to running a Virtual Reality and/or Augmented Reality event or conference.  Even something as simple as the personalised lanyards worn by guests could be implemented to include AR tech. 

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Virtual Reality 

Beyond Entertainment: Top Employment Positions in the Field of VR

As with every new technological leap in our time, employment possibilities take a massive leap too. Today, we take a look at the top employment positions in the field of virtual reality. This industry was not something that people expected to bloom—particularly virtual reality experienced a near death experience in the 90s.

However, with the help of Forbes list companies and some creative YouTube gamers, Virtual Reality is very much alive and once again the darling of the public eye. There is also now a massive demand for people to work in VR. Yes, there are actually jobs that are born because of VR. Here are some of them:

3D Modelers

In order for the immersive world of 3D to be built, the foundation needs to set. The environment, the setting, the imagery—this is what 3D Modelers are responsible for. Otherwise called 3D artists, these talented individuals make use of a variety of software and tools in order to make otherwise flat objects come to life.

They are normally a part of a larger design team. If you have ever seen a computer generated animated movie or even the CG special effects in movies, it is actually 3D modelers that set the ground work happen.

Now visualizing and mapping out the model is one thing, who truly brings it to life?

3D Animators

When you think of video games and how everything seems so lifelike in the way they move, you have 3D animators to thank for that. They take the raw material that 3D modelers provide and push the envelope further.

Also part of their section or departments of the design team, 3D animators rarely work alone. Every animated short you have ever seen has had a team of 3D animators behind it.

Creating the product is fine, how are people going to know about it?

Product Marketing Managers

In order for people to know a product exists, they need to market it. That is where marketing managers shine. While you can argue that is position has been around for a while, the specifics that are needed for a successful VR product marketing campaign is an entirely different thing.

The set of players are different, the demographic that they target is much wider than most products, and the ways in which they should market the product is completely different. So the skills that are required are more than the usual that you would expect from marketing managers.

Software Engineers

Much like the ones that Envelop has, these brilliant people are normally expected to be masters in C++, along with really strong understanding of programming. As Virtual Reality is being used for more than just entertainment, software developers have the task of building new and innovative software.

They think outside the normal sphere of thought. It is the software developers that make it possible for new apps and programs that enhance our day to day lives.

To close, these are only some of a massive selection of employment opportunities in the world of virtual reality. What employment opportunities did you see arise because of virtual reality?

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Technology 

How Are Drones Benefiting the World of Business?

When we think of drones, we often assume they’re something we would see on a Christmas list. However, there is much more to the world of drones, and they’re making a bigger impact than just flying around the local park.

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying some drone time in leisurely manner, it’s worth considering how beneficial the right type of drone can be for a business.

Surveillance Drones

There’s no denying that the technology associated with security and surveillance has progressed in leaps and bounds, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its limits. While many security systems are ideal for many businesses, there are some who don’t get the coverage they’re looking for when it comes to the security of their business, and many choose to employ the use of surveillance drones.

Of course, not every drone is fit for purpose, so you will need to ensure that you purchase the best surveillance drones for the job in hand. That said, the right drone can have you checking out hotspots that weren’t even visible in your initial security setup. What’s more, a surveillance drone can record any misdemeanours, making a conviction more likely, while helping you find a better deal in relation to business insurance.

There’s also the fact that surveillance drones are visible, and act as a great deterrent against would-be thieves.

Although surveillance drones are a hot topic in the security industry, this doesn’t mean that other businesses aren’t able to make use of drones.

Drones for Deliveries

Although there are many regulations in place, this hasn’t stopped businesses making use of drones. Amazon is a company that probably everyone has used at some point in their life, and the company has gathered traction thanks to its quick deliveries and slew of products.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that Amazon is looking to offer a drone delivery service, and its vision comes in the guise of Amazon Prime Air. While Amazon is still contending with the legality surrounding delivery drones with regulators and policymakers around the world, it is a vision that seems to be gaining traction, with new FFA rules in the US looking to allow the use of autonomous drones for deliveries.

Google is also looking to offer a similar service via Project Wing, operated under Alphabet X. A set of nationwide tests have already taken place under the watchful eye of the FAA and NASA, with its tests also focusing on the software being used for its unmanned drones.

Google has also been involved with drones in the past, albeit in a different context. Following the acquisition of Titan Aerospace in 2014, Google looked to launch an initiative that focused on rural areas that struggled to receive an Internet connection.

The Loon project looked to launch solar-powered drones that flew at great altitudes that would connect with satellites to offer Internet access to those who struggle otherwise. Unfortunately, the project ran out of money and the initiative won’t be progressed any further, that is unless another company decides to take the reigns.

Despite its unfortunate demise, the Loon project did showcase just what is possible with the use of drones, and how we can help progress a person’s lifestyle.

The Future of Law Enforcement?

Drones almost seem like science fiction, and certainly have certainly had their limelight on the silver screen. They were heavily used in the Robocop remake in 2014, but are drones actually useful when it comes to law enforcement.

The security aspect has already been touched upon, and compiling footage of a crime being committed is always useful for the authorities, but what about law enforcement itself? Is it keen to adopt technology that has many people sitting on the fence as to how intrusive they area?

While every country will have its own legal system in place, drones do seem to finding their place in the world of law enforcement. Although the drones used aren’t as sinister as those seen in science-fiction movies, they still serve a purpose.

In the UK, Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police announced a trial that would see drones used in a bid to protect residents, and capture footage should it arise. This could be anything from a crime to a road collision. The footage is captured is governed in the same way as video captured via CCTV and body-worn video.

The US is following a similar program, although different states do have different rules in place. In many states, the use of a drone is permitted once a warrant has been issued, or in the event of an emergency. Of course, the rules change frequently, but it’s still interesting to note how much of an effect the humble drone has had in relation to law enforcement.

Other Industries

You would be forgiven for assuming that the use of drones can be limited to a few business types, but it can fit in with many different business models. For example, some airlines have deployed drones to carry out safety inspections of their aircraft. National Rail in the UK is another company that hopes to make use of drones by helping them garner a better overview of its infrastructure. Currently, the company uses aerial cameras for this purpose.

As you can see, whether businesses are deploying drones for deliveries, or investing in surveillance drones, there are benefits to using drones, and if you’re able to think outside the box, you could give your business a whole new dimension.

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Games 

Let’s Play Gamers: Product Menace or Saviors of Entertainment VR?

We mentioned that VR for entertainment almost died out completely. However, it is thriving in today’s market. Let’s take a look at the Let’s Play Gamers that helped to make this happen.

What is a “Let’s Play” Gamer?

Once found primarily on YouTube platform, these gamers record themselves playing games and people watch it. A very simple enough premise—they do not discriminate with the games that they play. They can play indie console games, established PC games, and even mobile games.

Saviors…?

These gamers play a big part in keeping the game industry alive. As it turns out, they are also instrumental in revitalizing the way the public saw virtual reality for entertainment purposes. When YouTube Royalty PewDiePie started to feature horror virtual reality games on the Oculus Rift and other platforms, it invariably struck a massive interest for the platform.

PewDiePie is no stranger when it comes to generating interest in games. There is now an established “PewDiePie effect” wherein any game that he plays generates a massive amount of user and player engagement. This equals to sales and a boost in Google search results.

PewDiePie and his gaggle of other Let’s Play friends—with their own massive followings—can invariably be attributed as the reason why a relative unknown game is suddenly catapulted into the stardom. It would not be unfair to say that when certain Let’s Play gamers got a hold on VR games, it certainly did a major service to the platform as a whole.

Menace…?

As the massive influx of user engagement can come without warning, a lot of developers out there end up being crushed with orders. It is also occurred that once the Let’s Play Gamers move on to other games, the interest in the game wanes and now there is a surplus of stock with very little buyers.

In the crux of it all is the ebb and flow of attention that they bring to games without proper sustainability. While VR games have certainly benefitted from all the attention that the likes of PewDiePie have brought, what is to occur when developers are left high and dry?

Influence

There is no denying the power that Let’s Play Gamers wield. As these people make a living out of doling out reviews or simply playing for the sake of playing, they invariably influence the market with their antics.

What is good is that PewDiePie does provide links toward the developers and directs his followers to do patronize the product if they like it. It is this sort of responsible wielding of power that can strike the balance between making lightning strike for an indie developer and crushing them outright with the spotlight.

As there are more and more virtual reality games coming out in the market, it is also inevitable that the Let’s Play Gamers of YouTube and Twitch will have their own say regarding the product. As a company who has a hand in the world of VR, Envelop recognizes the contribution that Let’s Game players have made toward revitalizing a healthy interest in the use of VR for entertainment.

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Technology 

Chatbots – the good, the bad and the ugly

What do you think to chatbots?

Chances are, if you’ve encountered one and had a poor experience it wasn’t a very good one, more of an ‘automated FAQ machine’ rather than an intelligent system that adapts to what you’re saying.

That said, there is of course the chance that you’ve talked to one and had no idea it’s a chatbot.

Some are great, some are next to useless – and some are downright damaging. We recently had a chance to sit down with the team and Think Zap who have shared some insights on companies that are implementing chatbots well – and the ones who are missing the mark slightly…

The Good

  • Cleverbot

Cleverbot is an innovative chatbot that, unlike many less-sophisticated bots does not have any pre-programmed responses. Instead, it returns responses that relate to keywords or phrases in the communication from the user – then, it references previous conversations that it’s had to see which is the most appropriate response.

And it’s good.

So good that it came exceptionally close to passing the ‘Turing test’ – the benchmark criteria that decides whether or not a machine is indistinguishable from a human in conversational interactions.

Part of what makes Cleverbot so good is the huge amount of ‘learned’ information that it pulls on to reference its answers – currently around 300 million interactions. You can chat with Cleverbot at cleverbot.com and even tackle the 20 questions challenge to see whether you can tell you’re not talking to a human…

  • The Endurance bot

Endurance is the name of the company who are currently creating this as-yet unnamed bot – but it needs a place amongst the best chatbots because of the intention behind its development.

The chatbot powers an app for people with dementia – a condition that can make interaction with others extremely difficult and often distressing for both parties. Dementia can be such a challenge as people who are diagnosed with the condition often retain their ability to physically communicate – but experience intense emotions and confusion that can make daily living and human interaction very difficult.

Where dementia can make communicating with people very difficult – especially owing to intense bouts of short-term memory loss, the aim of the chatbot is to identify, through in-depth analysis of conversational themes, where the conversation is ‘going wrong’ and adapt its own communication to reflect that.

The app’s data is stored on cloud based servers – meaning it’s possible for professionals involved with the person’s care can access it and consider further steps for treatment.

  • U-Report (by UNICEF)

UNICEF’s step into the world of chatbots is somewhat different to a lot of the ‘chatbots for convenience or novelty’ trends that lead the field. Instead, they’re using prepared polls and responses to interactions that help marginalized communities have their voices heard.

And the good news is – it works.

U-report was a instigating factor in uncovering widespread child-abuse in Liberia’s education system – the findings of which were presented to the government by UNICEF and brought to an end by the department for education in the country.

This is a clear instance of how chatbot technology can be used to communicate with people for whom standard communication just doesn’t work – and as a result, how the most important issues in their lives can be highlighted and acted upon.

U-Report isn’t as sophisticated as some of the natural language processing bots work – but in time, it shows that chatbots could be the answer to breaking down barriers when masses of data is required to get a picture of how a community in need could be supported.

The Bad

If you’re expecting a shaming list here you’re going to be a little upset – because even though there are useless chatbots out there – the nature of their uselessness makes them somewhat un-noteworthy.

The bad chatbots are exactly as we’ve described – useless. You want to know what the weather’s going to be doing tomorrow but that chatbot is fixated on telling you what the weather will be like on the other side of the planet – or you’re looking for a particular style of clothing to buy and the bot is returning something totally different.

The big problem with these hopeless experiences is the impact it has on customers. The kind of frustrating interactions that chatbots produce can put people off using your company or site for life – time is precious for your site visitors – and a confused chatbot is likely to eat away at it more, with no solution presented. In fact, nearly 75% of customers asked say that they’d never use a company again after a bad chatbot experience.

That problem is often compounded by the fact that organisations can sometimes seem to hide their use of chatbots – so, your instant chat window pops up and you’re greeted by a line of text usually saying “Hi, you’re speaking to [insert human name], how can I help?”. When it becomes apparent that it’s not Karen, Mark, Jake or any other human on the other end of that chat, another 75% of users say the experience becomes ‘disturbing’ – and puts them off continuing the interaction.

The lesson is this – bad chatbots can damage your business. If you’re using a chatbot of any kind, be clear about it – and make it an option rather than the only option for customer interaction…

The Ugly

  • Tay

When chatbots go wrong, it seems they really go wrong.

‘Tay’ was a chatbot developed by Microsoft and rolled out on Twitter – and part of the quickly unfolding problem lay in the fact that it was powered, seemingly, by content-neutral algorithms – meaning it wasn’t calibrated to reflect or understand the opinions of the masses.

And, since it was met with some extreme views when it got its very own Twitter account – it began echoing those views. Many of Tay’s responses are too inflammatory to even repeat for reference here – but suffice to say there was a significant amount of name calling, bad language, racism and support of genocide.

Shortly after Tay’s brief stint online was brought to an end by Microsoft, the company issued a statement, explaining how Tay was a learning project and that they were “making some adjustments”…

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Virtual Reality 

Envelop VR Solutions: What VR Solutions Can Change Your Work

There is a lot of that Virtual Reality can do for your work or your business. Today, we take a look at some of Envelop’s solutions and how they apply to you. If you are not aware, other than hooking you up with the latest and most relevant VR and AR news, Envelop also has a hand in developing handy software that can revolutionize the way you do things.

We have a hand at revolutionizing the way you present data, process applications from just about any source into a completely new VR product. We sit at the cusp of various platforms which have to do with Virtual Reality hardware! The implications and solutions are simply breathtaking. There is a reason why we are very big believers of how VR can impact lives—we have experienced it for ourselves. Here are a few solutions that you may want to look at:

Data Visualization

Think something akin to Jurassic Park (the first one) where they needed to reboot the whole park. They needed to access the files and data through squares in their computer program. Data visualization is something like that but add decades of graphics improvement. Your database of information needs to be neat and labeled well in order for people to be able to use it intuitively.

Everyone is tired of the same old boring excel sheet. We understand that visual impact is important especially when you are trying to make a striking impression upon a client. We can help you get that extra impact. When you are trying to share information, it is important that everything be clear, easy to understand, and uncomplicated. Our 3D data visualization can help bring that to life for you.

Product Visualization

When you are trying to sell a product, there are often a lot of costs involved. The sample may need to be mass produced and then comes the logistics of getting it from one place to another safely. Even then, you do not know if the sale will be successful. That means that you end up spending a lot with the risk of little to no return.

If you let it, Envelop can help you build a sample of your product right there on your company website. A 3D product model placed right into your website can and will allow your clients to completely view the product in its every aspect. This helps keep down costs for you while raising consumer engagement for your product.

If you are not quite certain how this works, you can think back to Big Hero 6 wherein Hiro Tanaka was making use of virtual reality to figure out the components to make Baymax’s armor. He was able to map out which parts were needed and which were unnecessary. This is how product visualization works.

To close, the future is here and only those which embrace it get to move on into the future with as little friction as possible. With that in mind, which VR solution do you think will revolutionize the way you do things?

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Augmented Reality Virtual Reality 

Is Virtual eCommerce a Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been the stuff of dreams since shows like Star Trek first introduced us to the idea of having our very own holodeck. In more recent years that dream has started to materialise, with big players like Samsung, Facebook, Google and HTC all forging ahead with bringing us personal AR and VR technology.

VR’s Rapid Growth

2016 was probably the biggest year for AR and VR with many products either being released into the consumer market or being announced for upcoming release. What happened in 2016 changed the way people thought about technology like this. It was no longer a sci-fi idea, it became a tangible product that every consumer could experience. VR is achieved through a headset that the consumer wears and is then transported to an immersive experience.

AR vs VR

AR is slightly different because digital information is superimposed onto the real world. This can also be achieved via a headset, but is less immersive than a VR headset as the user will still be able to see their real world surroundings. The best part about AR is that most people can experience it right now, as your mobile phone can become the tool to achieve the experience. This makes AR more accessible for most people but companies like Google and Samsung have been developing low cost VR headsets to use in conjunction with your mobile phone to achieve the immersive VR experience.

Once realisation spread that everyone can experience this new technology at a reasonable cost, the buzz around VR and AR grew. Consumers are now poised and ready for the technology to be integrated into their everyday life. This change in behaviour from consumers has forced manufacturers of these devices to deliver high quality, cost effective products and has also made businesses think about how they can incorporate the technology into their strategies to keep up with consumer demand.

VR in eCommerce

Two decades ago when ecommerce really took off, many big companies like Walmart in the U.S. and BHS in the UK, didn’t pay enough attention to the shift in consumer behaviour. As a result, these huge companies lost millions to smaller online businesses like Amazon and EBay, at the same time. What happened back then should be used as a lesson for today as companies need to consider how they can integrate AR and VR into their business.

Already brands like Ikea are leading the way by offering virtual showrooms for their furniture. It’s a simple idea where consumers can put on a VR headset and be amongst their products. Whether that be a kitchen where consumers can open drawers and change colour schemes or a lounge suite where they can rearrange the layout. Other markets are also jumping on the opportunity such as clothing brand Converse, where using AR technology, consumers can try on digital shoes to see if they like the way they look.

B2B Businesses Using VR

The possibilities are endless, all it takes is a little bit of creative thinking to showcase your products through AR and VR. For B2B businesses the possibilities are the same as the consumer market, albeit less glamorous and maybe less exciting, but still just as relevant. For example, a business  such as Reid Brothers UK who sell tools for stainless steel banding or plastic strapping could use AR to showcase the different sizes of the tools. However, a big issue for a lot of companies who use these products is finding tools that can be operated in small spaces in warehouses where the goods are packed. AR could be used to see if a certain tool could be used in a tight space or at an awkward angle. Less fun than trying on a pair of converse but the benefits are exactly the same.

The technology doesn’t stop there. A supermarket in China called Yihaodian opened 1000 digital stores across the country overnight. These digital stores were placed in prime locations like famous tourist landmarks and in front of rival supermarkets. These stores were completely invisible to the naked eye, but open up the Yihaodian ecommerce app on your phone and you can walk around the digital store viewing products like you normally would in a physical shop.

These digital stores added an extra 12% revenue to the supermarkets books. This idea takes the AR concept one step further but is a fantastic way to showcase the power of AR and if nothing else, it creates a whole lot of free advertising because everyone around the world couldn’t stop taking about it.

Yihaodian shows us the power of ecommerce and how the need for having a physical store is becoming less every day. The AR and VR revolution is probably not going to have the same impact the internet did but it will still stir things up. It is so important for businesses to be looking towards the future and start thinking about how they can keep up with what is current and what the consumers demand. The future can either be an exciting opportunity for your business or it can be what drives you out of business. It’s your choice what the future has in store, so choose wisely.

 

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