The Business Possibilities of AR and VR
How developed is the virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality market, how can businesses use this technology and how much does it cost to develop AR/VR products? Sergei Bondarenko shares his expertise with the CEO Club.
What is the current situation with the virtual and augmented reality market?
It is difficult to talk about the VR and AR market because there aren’t many teams that are aware of the projects. As a result, it is difficult to provide full-fledged solutions with high-quality graphics.
The fact is that the market is just emerging. Starting this year, businesses have been thinking about budgets and marketing costs for AR and VR products. However, the situation is very promising, these technologies now provide an unregulated and free zone for cigarettes and alcohol advertising.
Also, only a handful of companies can fully develop a product. As a result, not every team has the ability to produce all the components on its own.
Therefore, the price of expertise is expensive. While some companies are just beginning to look for it, we already have ready-made products. Certainly, you can’t sell a color TV on the radio. The same thing also with graphics – you must see it.
What are some bottlenecks in AR and VR technologies?
Quality technical specialists are usually distant from graphics, and 3D artists do not find points of contact with programmers. Therefore, it is important to have the proper communication and flexible mindset between the professionals of both profiles.
Also, the 3D artists that are currently on the market do not fully understand all the features of AR and VR graphics. As a result, there are two completely different directions.
What are the possibilities of implementing augmented reality, including for business projects?
We are just now starting to realize the many possibilities of AR. But anyone who finds the coolest opportunity to implement the technology will also get the most out of the market.
What do we have now? In Shanghai, there are already AR parks the size of Disneyland. Also, there are international museums that showcase their exhibits without being tied down to a single place.
A lot of interesting AR uses are realized in books, for example, in Alice in Wonderland. This is a completely different kind of storytelling. In addition to this, this book can be read, rotated and viewed in a totally new way.
Two directions currently exist for business right now:
- Product demonstration
You can visualize the product and give the consumer a preview. For example, we have developed a very interesting and simple process: all the consumer has to do is open the camera via the Facebook app, find the 3D masks and choose the special product option. Above all, after several finger movements, the client can fit in the appeared piece of furniture into the interior. They can also place an order right away and the program itself will calculate the sizes that will be sent to production.
Another AR case is a demonstration of Cosmia cosmetics. How does it work? Consumers choose the product and with the help of the camera, they can see how certain cosmetics will look on them. Most importantly, they can then make an order through the application. Isn’t it cool?
With AR, you can also record or transmit visual instructions in real time. For example, it quickly solves a problem, without waiting for a specialist to arrive at your house. It is also a great tool for staff training.
How much does the device for working with AR-applications cost for the end user?
AR-applications are fully available and work even on an inexpensive Chinese phone for 100+ USD. We always start our tests with the cheapest models and move on top.
What is the budget for developing an AR product?
The technology is not affordable for all but we must also take into account the specifics of implementation. Masks for Facebook can start at $400. The average AR-product development will cost $5000 -$15,000. However, it will rarely cost more because there are restrictions on the implementation of the technology itself.
What’s in the price?
It is necessary to separately create graphics, as well as separately think out and implement its functionality. We simultaneously use specialists of various kinds (3D artists and programmers), as well as testing the application on different devices to create a flexible design for different screen formats.
How can we use VR for business? What are the possibilities of technology?
- Visualizing projects before their creation.
With VR, you can fully visualize objects that are in development. For example, recently one real estate company began to show future apartments in virtual reality in their offices.
Another one of our examples is the visualization of delivery rooms for the maternity hospital. This is a room with high sanitary control. It is unhygienic and unreasonable to bring every visitor there. Therefore, it is better to place a person there virtually, to show him the room, the objects that are in it, and even the view from the window.
- The teaching of a high concentration level
VR – is learning with a high level of immersion. This does not merely include the image, but also the unique opportunity to work with binaural sound. This virtual sound allows you to feel like you’re put inside a real space. You can completely simulate the cockpit of an aircraft or machine. In addition, you can visualize new equipment or conduct an introduction to the functionality of the shops from the inside.
VR is also used for teaching artificial intelligence and deep learning systems – like recognizing patterns or orientation in space.
- Virtual avatars
Thanks to VR, a specialist from anywhere in the world can appear in the place he needs to be. For instance, there is a solution that allows you to walk in the room in which you are not present physically and see the processes occurring in it. In the future, it will also be a great option for visualization and control.
What do you need for immersion in virtual reality and how much does it cost for the consumer?
Various technologies are available. Stand-alone devices include only virtual reality glasses and controllers. Consequently, this option will cost from $300 (for example, Oculus Quest). A VR station requires a computer. The cost of this kit is about $1,500 (for example, the HTC Vive – $500 + about $1000 for the computer).
Such a big range? $300 or $1500 dollars?
Yes, this difference is very significant, but also reasonable. For $1,500, you can download more space, get another quality of graphics: using complex graphics effects that a stand-alone device does not calculate. Also, a more expensive device does not cause any discomfort.
As a result, it turns out that the use of VR technology imposes additional costs on the business? Above all, shouldn’t they give the user the device itself?
It all depends on how it is being used. If we are talking about airports, then it’s easier to give people stand-alone glasses. In addition to this, if we are talking about a large demo room, for example, virtual furniture, then it is better to use a VR station.
How much does such a showroom cost?
We had a demonstration for Lenovo – three laptops from $800 to $1,000 and three pairs of glasses of $400 each. The total was up to $4,200 and a stand for demonstrating was ready. Stand-alone – it can be 3-4 Oculus Quest for $300-400.
Technology is constantly evolving, and as soon as 5G connection appears, we will give up the computer altogether.
How much does it cost to develop a virtual reality product?
Prices start at $3,000 and higher. The average project costs $10,000-20,000. Just like with AR, there are graphics, and software settings, and features of adaptation for different platforms.
The key difference between AR and VR is the size of the world created. Virtual worlds are always larger since you can use a computer. On the other hand, they are more interactive, deeper and through them, we can transmit more information. For example, we created virtual reality warehouses with an area of 6,000 square meters each with different departments and merchandise. This is impossible to implement on a phone, but it will also cost at least $10,000
VR projects can cost more than $20,000. As a result, with more graphics, the price also goes up. Usually, when a customer wants to visualize something, they want to use in VR from 50 items. In addition, to create a room, you need to model the floor, walls, chairs, light, etc. Space itself is very demanding. If we simplify it too much, then the effect of realism will also be lost.
What use cases does Skywell Software realize for the market?
- Live virtual studio
The virtual studio platform allows you to blur the boundaries between a real studio and 3D graphics. This solution includes digital background and foregrounds. It also contains camera tracking, real screen lead chroma key compositions, which can interact with augmented reality.
This was a creative idea to perform an interactive hologram effect using motion capture technology in real time. Moreover, it allows the audience to interact with the 3D character in real time. Therefore, the Goose became a real guest who could simultaneously talk to the speakers and the audience.
For this event, wireless capture of body and face movement, real-time rendering technology, projections, and holograms were combined and implemented.
- Fashion Week
We acted as a technical partner for two projects: Ukrainian Fashion Week New York and Tokyo. The purpose of this project was to demonstrate the creations of modern Ukrainian designers. The stages were as follows: we scanned the models and their clothes and placed them on a virtual podium, where visitors could enjoy the dresses of models from all sides. Sounds great?
AR-application for Android and iOS, allow children to learn the alphabet by playing and singing.
The Ecotoki app brings a wooden board with an alphabet to the world of augmented reality. This warm and fuzzy AR-application has just the level of interactivity that is necessary for small users. In addition, there are English and Russian localizations, with male and female voice narration.