Build Value Into AR and VR Products

Why technology service providers should consider use cases and user experiences when designing immersive technology solutions.

The transformative power of immersive technology can be found in how one renewable energy company improved the skills and efficiency of factory technicians. An employee wearing a head-mounted display to access wiring instructions wired a wind turbine 34% faster than an employee using traditional paper manual instructions. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and the more advanced technology mixed reality (MR) go well beyond their hype and provide transformative benefits for technology providers.

AR will fundamentally change computing

Interactive, three-dimensional computing experiences are more personal and natural than current two-dimensional experiences. “Immersive technology is so personal that it will significantly alter our interpretation of the world,” says Brian Blau, vice president at Gartner.

Immersive technology is so personal that it will significantly alter our interpretation of the world

Users interact with immersive technology using apps on smartphones, tablets or head-mounted displays. Immersive technology spans three main areas. AR is digital content overlaid on the real world, mostly on mobile devices, such as Pokemon Go. Mixed reality is digital content that interacts with the real world, such as the Lowe’s Holoroom, which mixes digital and real worlds to let customers safely learn do-it-yourself project skills before tearing down walls. Virtual reality creates a full-immersion digital environment where the content transports its user to new virtual worlds that businesses are using to provide entertainment or even entice new customers, such as with Marriott’s virtual honeymoon teleporter experience.

How technology service providers can participate

There is much excitement about the potential for immersive technologies; however, caution and thoughtfulness are required to overcome the hype. Vendors, developers and headset manufacturers struggle to make the apps and services inexpensively and create seamless, effective experiences. To date, unit sales volume has been relatively anemic, and platform wars between headset hardware vendors will define the future of the market. Content is not compatible between leading headset hardware vendors and platforms. With that in mind, it’s the experience that matters when it comes to the effectiveness of VR, AR and MR scenarios, says Blau. “The experiences have to be optimized for the task, user and cohort.”

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Next steps for marketers

With more than 2,000 venture capital-funded small business building apps, services and devices in the market, it’s important to use optimized ecosystems of products and services. Because user experience is so critical to extracting value from immersive technology, iterating is the key to achieving goals with immersive technology. Iterate each project to refine out bad user experiences at each step. Identify tasks and situations for behavior change and focus on process improvement.

“Start now to understand, do a pilot and get educated so you know what you are doing when you need to invest in it,” says Blau.

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