Augmented and virtual reality have been the next big thing for quite a while.
And that's counterintuitive, even though we're in a year that you would think would make it absolutely perfect for augmented and or virtual reality to help us with all of the dissociation and disruption of COVID 19.
What are we stuck on with these new technologies?
The question is now what?
Jeff gatehub is here and he's gonna have some answers he thinks about this among many other topics a lot in his role as global chief experience officer for VML YNR the combination of VML and YNR.
The two companies came together a couple of years ago.
They are one of the largest marketing and messaging firms in the world clients that span from Ford, Wendy's, Colgate, Intel Pfizer, and he spends a lot of time Jeff does thinking about what is the next big thing in experience for people who receive messages.
From their work, so Jeff, let me ask you, I guess I'm being a little harsh here.
I say, whatever happened to AR and VR, they're still here, but they don't seem to have left the launchpad.
I think there's still more potential and excitement in those topics and there is reality and I think it's it probably stems from just Just the barriers as a consumer as a person as a human being, to really using an AR VR experience, if you think about it usually requires a little bit additional software, a couple extra clicks, it requires very specific conditions for all the effort to be paid off well.
So I think as a mass market idea, you're still waiting to see
Technology processing things like that catch up and in, you know, in the b2b space or a niche markets or niche use cases, I think you'd begin to see really interesting things but as a mass market concept, I think it's still waiting for bandwidth processing experience designed to become something that becomes behaviourally accepted and something that you see used more frequently.>> My pet peeve is that every time I see someone show off AR or VR, especially AR for some reason, it's always doing something stupid.
Turning the person next to me into a dragon or letting people run around and have like little Hot Wheels races in midair in their house and I'm, I'm being harsh to these things.
Those are fun.
They're often very creative, but I wanna see something more useful to capture everyone's attention, am I just being a bore?.
No, I don't think so i think that those are the kind of low hanging fruit use cases I think back to Google Glass and I always thought how impractical it would be to wear something that had kind of obstructive non obstructive vision but just distraction coming in and out.
But I think about things like when I'm in a grocery store if I'm really price conscious and actually want to see couponing now in real time, it wouldn't be It wouldn't be a burden for me to begin to navigate a grocery store with a different lense on how I'm walking through the alley ways, figuring out for me as a person where and how the things I care about most are located in the store, how they can be discounted and how I could be drawn to them.
I think in those moments where there is a clear.
Value exchange, not a gimmick going on, not an entertainment, gimmick, but valuable data or valuable insight about the environment around you.
I think AR becomes a far more compelling.
It's just, like I said, that's an easy concept, hard to deliver in a real environment until those kind of low hanging fruit.
Those near-term barriers are overcome.
Yeah, I think about people I know that the can't have gluten.
Just one example.
They've got celiac sensitivity and as they walk through the grocery store every single time, it's a hunting process of reading tiny food labels.
And if they just had AR that would just highlight everything in the aisle that's gluten free, and maybe even put a gray mask over everything else.
What an easy way to relate to the store.
But it's easier to say that then do it.
It's a big data problem.
It's a big products in the right place problem.
Who do you think is going to push?
Staying on augmented reality for now who's going to push this?
The people that are offering these are their abilities, platforms, the technology or the end use cases like the grocery store chains, or did users have to demand it?
Where's the impetus?
You know, I think that's an interesting question.
I think I think it's a little bit of all of it.
I think if we're talking about physical retail, I think it's physical retailers that have to do that.
But you know, that's inside that retail store is a is a fight from brand to brand over space.
And so that's a marketplace that AR that that is a marketplace, and so figuring out who wins out who gets to put the rest of the products in front of your face That's not an old problem but an AR.
It's a unique challenge.
But I do think increasingly, we say this a lot in our industry that consumer behaviour isn't driven in industry.
It's driven by a last best experience.
So I think as you begin to have experiences anywhere, that begin to put more relevant personalised experiences, things about me the products, I love, the things I love, that's going to create a sense of demand and certainly if you look at it Online retail to offline retail, that's one of the appeals, is that you're actually having a more personalized shopping experience and I think is that enters in then into the physical retail space that demand is going to get higher and I think as you look at things like scanning go, or you look at shopping now done where, scanning go through Sam's Club where.
You're actually picking out products and you're doing the buying part at the selection part through a phone that's going to drive behavior that's going to make it more acceptable for a consumer to say, hey, I need more out of this experience.
I want my phone to be doing more.
I want my device in hand to be doing more.
In that overall experience, so I think consumers always drive the wheel of progress.
They always get things accelerating.
But I think there's going to be this interesting marketplace of who's actually owning that experience, retailers brands who's owning that.
So it'll be interesting to see how that evolves.
And I've often thought that AR and VR both Need a name change.
I mean they're not pretty.
And they don't tell me what they do unless you're a techie you do not know what augmented reality or virtual reality really are.
If there was a simpler name for it, like, you know, magic viewer or or bring to life technology is something that consumers could digest.
You think that's a hurdle or is that just sort of something that consumers will eventually learn what the name means?
I do think it's a hurdle.
I also think those words have lost meaning in a lot of contexts.
So any word that's, I mean, you have to build a promise for things like AR and VR, but, you know, it does sound science fictiony It does sound like I mean, even VR To this day, you still have to put a computer on your face to really explore it and I think You know, the more becomes kind of human and it becomes just built into things like going to the grocery store just to keep beating up that example.
This just becomes a part of the behavior of grabbing a cart, you know is grabbing your phone or you won't call that AR you won't know it as a consumer, you won't be able to label that.
That'll just be called shopping in the future and I think the more that You kind of lower this perceptual and emotional barrier to AR and VR and just make it a natural replacement or extension of everyday experience.
I think the more you're gonna kind of see consumers get and understand and appreciate how.
AI has the same burden by the way, so many topics, blockchain all these things sounds so like, My gosh, what What year are we in that sounds futuristic when really they're already kind of, they're already starting to seep in everyday life it's just you get more value from them when they're just integrated in the words you know, not the adoption of a complicated term like AR or VR to make it acceptable to use.
I know we're, we're poking around and kind of gradually tearing apart AR and VR.
Tell me about a couple of good examples you've seen.
I remember one for example, big hotel chain did a did a road show.
It's probably four years ago and they went around and this was a, you know, this was an experiential thing.
They went around with some trucks and kiosks and you could put on the VR Headset and you could feel like you were at their Hawaiian property because all of a sudden the floor tilted a little bit and hot air got blown on you.
And they had a sense of, you know, frangipani or whatever it is, then you'd feel cold air and you'd be up on top of their rooftop bar in Manhattan.
So they did a real kind of a physical plus virtual thing.
Have you seen any other interesting examples of VR AR that you think are on the right track?
Yeah, I'll get one of these real quick but I mean, I've seen some concepts in the b2b space.
We work with a major worksite a equipment manager, and I've seen some really interesting ones.
Whereas a job form and if you think about a construction site, in a city or anywhere, there's so many things going on and the ability to Look around a job site and see how many employees or workers I have on site.
Or my materials actually stocked up for the job that I have is do I.
How would I use that rented Earth digger that I just got right there.
Do I have a manual at my fingertips you can literally see a complicated environment being made very simple.
In the b2b space, I think those are the kind of use cases you and I have been talking about for the last few minutes around, like making a real I think there's compelling things in that use case in the VR space.
I think it's, it's a little bit more challenging, but I think those I've seen a lot of interesting use cases and research now where you have to create an empathetic response.
to different environments, I've seen some interesting work, especially in a, in a culture focused on diversity and inclusion, you know, interesting.
VR use cases, putting yourself in a different kind of work environment that's more diverse than the one that you have today, putting yourself in and kind of a different context.
I've seen researchers begin to use VR as a way to get different emotive responses out now.
A lot of these I don't you don't see him yet in the in the mass marketplace but me and where I sit where I work with clients I'm getting to see things now in VR that is really around building a better sense of empathy not just a better entertainment experience, right and in through that getting insights about how you feel, how you interact and then using those to drive new innovation New messaging new product experiences.
That's a very key point.
I think I've always agreed that VR is about empathy.
It changes the E word from engagement to empathy.
Because once you're in VR, you're engaged you have to be your eyes and ears have been taken over and possibly your hands as well.
So that's a given.
But then the people asked what's the next frontier what's the point then if I'm if you already have engagement and other technologies This moves us to like you say the empathetic response.
I think I think that's really insightful.
And really a key differentiator of why bother with VR.
It's a lot of work to get the technology smoothed out.
It's a tonne of work to build the environments.
A lot of people talk about five g turbocharging, AR and VR and they think it's about getting the images beamed to the user.
I think a lot of it has to do your job site examples a good one, we have to have an awful lot of data in real time about where everything is it has to be able to report itself.
Where's that box nails?
Where is that backhoe?
Literally every one of those kind of has to have a simple identity and be sending it out via 5G with pretty precise coordinates.
That seems like we're 5G really makes a difference with AR Yeah, I totally agree.
I mean, any discussion of 5G alone is probably absent to the value.
It's always 5G plus IoT,5G plus AR VR.
And that's because if you really think about the environment around you and the capability around you, constraints of bandwidth Processing power, memory size are built into every design attribute of those ecosystems.
So if you think about the number of clicks you have on a website, those exists because you're trying to anticipate a certain amount of data on every click, you know, five g in an AR VR world, which gets better with more data, more connectivity, more accessibility.
Becomes faster, it becomes more reliable takes in more connections.
And so in an AR VR world, that just creates a better experience.
It's not just clearer pictures and more pictures.
It's more Devices speaking through that experience, it's more reliable connections.
It's more reach.
So it's not just AR and VR sitting in my well connected, hard wired office to my house.
It's ARVR Walk on a walk down the street.
It just makes the potential for a lot more interesting innovation combinations to come to the forefront.
This year has been weird.
Let's leave 2020 aside.
[LAUGH] Let's look to 2021.
I think we're all just about ready to start doing that.
What do you hope Or think might happen that would be the most important advancement in AR and VR next year, whether it's technology or perception or what is 21 gonna have anything particularly interesting for these two technologies.
Do I mean I think that again, we just spoke to a point about 5g but I think you're gonna see you I feel like we're you know if technology works in long cycles, 1030 year cycles, whatever you want to buy I feel like we've been in a long period of some major technical innovations ramping themselves up to become reality, and I think we're starting to see them peek their head out into the real world.
And so I do think that, Brands, consumers, even governments, municipalities are getting smarter around realizing the value of these technologies in people's lives.
And so I think next year, you can begin to see some of these interesting combinations.
I think you can begin to have AR experiences that are, Driven on Commerce data, which would make them relevant, I think you're gonna be able to see social networking, which is a really complicated space, right to build trust and transparency.
I think that next year it's going to be imperative to see trust and transparency resident and experiences that are now opening so much of the world up to you.
And in allowing that to be seen, so I don't have a specific use case for you, Brian necessarily that I'm excited for but I think you finally have the potential for these interesting trends to begin that cut through in the eyes of the consumer and lead us to a, to an interesting place that's gonna cut, kinda deliver on the promise we've been waiting for for a number of years.
The newest Oculus quest two now requires a Facebook login to pretty much do anything with it.
Do you like the idea of a social platform being sort of the OS for virtual reality?
Or do you think that's not necessarily the only answer?
That's a complicated question.
It's not that I would take your latter option.
So I don't think it's the only way.
And I think any good ,truly innovative technology has a light side and a dark side to it, as I think about it.
The positivity of why a social network to embrace something like this.
I have seen some amazing concepts my family's all over the country and I have friends all over the world and the ability for me through a VR experience to someday sit down in a room with them.
Even though it sounds creepy, but just have a tighter connection than what I can type through characters or text messages and actually see their face and have an empathetic experience with them again, and have distance be removed that would never replace being there in person.
But the idea that connection, if that's what social networks are about to be enhanced to AR and VR.
I buy it.
You know, at the same time, I think we can see plenty of examples where that could be used in a very negative and untrustworthy environment as well.>>Its interesting when you bring that up because people say, You can just jump on zoom.
People are doing it already, but we're doing it right now.
And it's just flat.
Is not the same.
Well, there's so much circumstance that matters.
I mean, the room you're in the clothes, you're wearing what you ate this morning and frankly, if I'm going home, I like to see my parents house.
Again, I like to walk through the hallways a little bit.
I like to have an experience that moves around a context a little bit more.
So, I think it's good because that's what we have.
We have as of right now, and we have teams right now.
But if you can really play it out in your mind, all those empathetic responses of AR all those enriching experiences are a VR and the enriching data experiences I think there's still a lot of potential for social connectivity and AR and VR to really be exploited in a positive way.
Jeff gay head is global chief experience officer at VML y&r