04 We believe in mixing reality

What does augmented reality offer to those not in entertainment?

The last few years has seen an explosion in the popularity of Virtual and Augmented Reality systems.

Seemingly every major technology vendor has or is planning to release some sort of new technology to bring immersive 3D to masses. Oculus has the Rift, HTC has the Vive and Sony has the PlayStation VR. Even the humble smartphone has enjoyed a surge of interest in such things with the release of Pokemon Go.

Kids getting the chance to be inside their favourite game worlds. Parents enjoying some virtual sightseeing of distant lands. Artistic expression that has only been in the realms of science fiction previously.

But, from the perspective of a business owner, there's a disconnect. Sure, all of these things are nice, new and shiny but there's no escaping that it's seemingly that all these "experiences" are focused almost entirely on entertainment. What happens to those of us who aren't in the entertainment industry? Should we care about any of this ... or just write it off as another sales and marketing fad?

This is a good point to start talking about another entry in the world of 3D technology: the Microsoft HoloLens. Microsoft, like its peers, certainly has a vested interest in entertainment but the HoloLens represents something a little different; something more. Described by Microsoft as a Mixed Reality device, the HoloLens doesn't replace the outside world with a virtual one; it merges the two. Users can have computer generated objects sitting in amongst real world ones.

It doesn't stop there though.

Microsoft HoloLens represents a chance to go beyond the light entertainment and genuinely advance the state of doing business.

Users are able to interact with virtual objects using hand gestures and voice. The HoloLens in a free standing Windows 10 device that doesn't need special controllers, base stations, tethering cables or a predesignated room to operate in. Likewise, there's no special setup required for a particular room. A user can simply switch the HoloLens on and it just works.

Behind the scenes, the HoloLens is taking note of its environment and calculating the position of the user in real time. It builds a working map of the surrounding world with its collection of inbuilt sensors. This means its entirely possible for a user to be able to put a virtual object down in one room, walk to another room and come back to find the virtual object exactly where they left it.

Okay, so the HoloLens obviously has some interesting aspects to it but what does this mean for business?

It means that a whole load of tasks that were previously physically impractical or prohibitively costly start becoming viable. Want to demonstrate to a customer how well a product will fit into their existing home or workplace?

HoloLens allows customers to place and experiment with everything from new appliances to industrial equipment on site without the expense of physically installing an actual product.

Does your business need employees to learn about or maintain sizable or complex real world machinery or infrastructure?

HoloLens allows businesses to provide intelligent context aware virtual assistance without a lot of the traditional points of pain. No inconvenient cables, laptops or confusing 2D diagrams. Staff can literally have the information at their finger tips.

Microsoft HoloLens represents a chance to go beyond the light entertainment and genuinely advance the state of doing business.

If all this is starting to sound pretty interesting but you're not sure how to best take advantage of the HoloLens specifically for your business, you may be interested in a Readify JumpStart day. 

Readify JumpStart is a full day workshop split into two distinct halves. 

The morning is an exploration of the HoloLens from a business perspective with the chance to discuss the various aspects of the device itself. 
The afternoon is dedicated to investigating a problem within your business that might be best solved with a HoloLens. 

By the end of it, you should be well versed in what the HoloLens can offer to your business and have a rough outline of how to go about it.