I’ll admit it. I was a bit of a skeptic when it came to practical corporate uses for Virtual or Augmented Reality. As a marketer I’ve seen countless projects with significant potential fall flat because the focus of using cutting-edge technology isn’t on the purpose behind the project, but the technology itself.
Even tech giants like Google have taken a tumble off the tightrope between balancing technological innovation with practical applications. Much to Google’s dismay not everyone is walking through life with Google Glass firmly planted to their face. There are myriad reasons why Google Glass only amounted to a blip on the technology timeline, but not the least of which is the purpose it served to customers.
After the newness and awe of this technology wears off, is there a purpose to the experience?
Yes, cutting-edge, or bleeding edge if you will, technology is wonderful, but the fact of the matter is if the purpose isn’t there, your experience isn’t going to be successful. Though difficult, I have come to realize that with the proper planning and focus, the corporate world can harness bleeding edge technology in meaningful ways.
Let’s take a look at two companies that are doing it right.
Naturally when you think of practical uses for Augmented Reality you think migraines. No? Well, Excedrin created an Augmented Reality experience that transformed the lives of migraine sufferers and shed light on a difficult to understand health issue.
After hearing from migraine suffers that it’s difficult for their friends and family to understand that a migraine is more than just a headache, Excedrin worked with REAL migraine sufferers to design an AR simulation depicting their individualized migraine. Then, friends and family members were brought in to experience what it was like to go through a normal day and be impacted by a migraine.
Why was this successful?
This simulation wasn’t about selling medicine or trying to take advantage of new technology, it was about creating an experience that meet a need for their customers and AR was the best delivery vehicle to meet that need.
If you’re not intimately involved with the casing, installing, and distributing of oilfield tubular, you may not be aware of Frank’s International. As an industry leader in the oil field, Frank’s International is all too familiar with the fact that the fatality rate for the oil industry is eight times higher than any US industry.
With this in mind, Frank’s used Virtual Reality to create simulations of teachable situations on oil rigs. Using the unique characteristics afforded by VR, the company was able to provide engaging, safe, and hands-on training prior to putting employees in dangerous situations.
Why was this successful?
Virtual Reality allows companies to create reusable, immersive, and customizable training simulations that provide employees with first-hand experiences in environments that are difficult to navigate, dangerous, or time consuming. Creating authentic learning experiences that are supported by the unique technological capabilities of Virtual Reality resulted in training opportunities that save companies money and, in the case of Frank’s International, lives.
Successful use of Virtual Reality is contingent upon a company’s ability to strategically align organizational objectives with the differentiating features that Virtual Reality offers as a medium. However, as with any significant technological advancement, the vehicle itself doesn’t improve users’ lives. Ultimately, the power of the technology is derived from the interactive experiences afforded by the medium.
The most valuable of these experiences requires users to move past “looking” at new environments into “transforming” their environment. Through this transformation comes dynamic new learning opportunities that can only be afforded by Virtual or Augmented Reality. Only through this marriage of technology and good learning design will companies differentiate themselves and see valuable results.
At Filament Games, we’re excited to apply best practices in game-based learning to VR/AR experiences that solve bigger, more complex business challenges. As the companies above have highlighted, harnessing this technology expands the ways in which games and simulations can improve, and even save, users’ lives.