Battle of the Realities

  • Amanda Rooth
  • February 18, 2016

Battle of the Realities

As the ultimate seeker for all things innovative, Alcone’s The Lab jumped on the opportunity to attend this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held annually in Viva Las Vegas, Nevada. Never heard of CES? Do some light Google searches and you’ll soon discover why this is THE tradeshow to end all tradeshows. We’re talking over 180,000 people from all over the world coming together to witness, play with, and purchase the latest and greatest technological products produced by today’s leading masterminds and brands.

Well, with day one officially coming to a close, I found myself reevaluating my support and appreciation for virtual reality (VR). Yes, virtual reality. We’ve discussed this immersive media before and it’s essential to dissect the growing trend once again.

Entering CES, I held VR in high regards: its ability to surprise and entertain viewers is undeniable. However, after attending the Wednesday morning session “Five Practical Uses for Virtual Reality,” I quickly ascertained that my view was far too narrow. It seems obvious now, but VR can do much more than entertain. The “uses” shared by Jason Jerald, co-founder of VR consulting company NextGen, included:

  1. Simulation and Training- Athletes using VR to practice plays and improvisation regardless of location.
  2. Medical Visualization- Doctors and surgeons using VR headsets and handsets to practice procedures and operations.
  3. Computer Aided Design- Video game designers using VR and its tools to build characters and scenes that are specialty crafted and more detailed.
  4. Retail- Shoppers using VR to “try” before they “buy” and customize the desired product.
  5. Education- Younger generations using VR in the classroom to learn in an immersive, yet entertaining manner. Addiction to video games? VR can transform this habit into one parents actually support.

Clearly VR has a lot to offer! You may be asking yourself then why I ended day one with my appreciation for the media under question. Remember Augmented Reality (AR)? Many, including myself, view/viewed AR as the immature version of VR, but this isn’t the case!

It was the afternoon session “What’s Next for Augmented Reality?” which made me realize that AR deserves a serious second look. AR has the ability to enhance our world, our daily lives, without being physically constrained by space. Imagine visiting the Colosseum in Rome for the first time and upon entrance receiving information through a lightweight wearable, most likely in the form of glasses, on the building’s construction and history instantaneously. Of course, this is wishful thinking, but according to the session’s expert panel will not be that far into the future.

In my opinion, AR can enhance our lives, help us perform better and accomplish tasks faster, while being seamlessly integrated into our daily routines. VR, on the other hand, is a niche activity. It requires more tools than a smartphone and has a clear start and end. Then again, isn’t the point of VR to provide an escape and transport us somewhere completely new and different? Maybe the best conclusion is that the two can’t be pitted against each other after all.

Stay tuned to learn more.

~Amanda Rooth is a Retail Lab Analyst with Alcone Marketing Group.

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