Getting new clients is one of the most difficult tasks for any company. Still, new clients are requisite for growth. To this end, business development, along with marketing and advertising, play a crucial role.
However, even if the internet and mobile devices have brought about new channels, people are exposed to hundreds of ads per day. That makes it increasingly harder to stand out in a crowded market, both for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies.
To differentiate, companies – especially B2B ones – can take advantage of new technologies. While the cost may be a bit higher than traditional marketing and advertising channels, the benefits could be very well worth the cost.
With virtual reality, for example, companies can set themselves apart, creating experiences that actually attract the attention of potential clients. By mimicking actual processes and/or finite product being offered, potential clients can get a better idea of how things unfold. They will understand the company’s processes better, along with how it can deliver business value.
Mixed, Virtual and Augmented Reality – what’s what?
Even if they all refer to creating a reality that doesn’t actually exist, there are a few differences between the three terms.
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated scenario that simulates a realistic experience, in which the environment that users immerse in can be similar to the real world in order to create a life-like experience grounded in reality.
Considered a form of virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) involves a live view of the real-world environment, augmented with different computer-generated elements overlayed on the live view. These can include animations, graphics, sounds, text notifications, simulated screens etc. However, these elements don’t interact with other elements from reality to produce new environments or visualization.
Mixed Reality (MR) combines the best of VR and AR as the user sees the real world like in AR, but also life-like 3D objects like in VR. Moreover, in MR, virtual objects are anchored in reality as interaction with objects happens as it would in the real world. For example, an animated VR cat will fall off a real table, as it would in real life as well.
While VR headsets have been around since the 1990s, Microsoft HoloLens is the first self-contained, holographic computer. It is also the first MR headset available commercially, built using specialized components, multiple sensors, advanced optics and a custom holographic processing unit.
HoloLens enables users to engage with digital content previously created and to interact with holograms in the space around them. With it, anyone with a minimum knowledge of programming can create simple digital content (3D geometrical shapes, images, sounds and more) with which users can interact in the real world.
Even if the price tag can be a bit steep ($3000/piece), HoloLens can help businesses create custom experiences that attract potential customers. What’s more, it comes with very good development support on GitHub.
How companies can use Hololens for business development
MR is very flexible and it allows for virtually endless opportunities. Here are a few examples:
- As an architect or real estate developer, you can showcase your designs in 3D (scaled down or in real-life size) through Microsoft HoloLens. This way, you don’t have to create physical models, which take a long time to build and are hard to “update”.
- As an electrical engineer, you can simulate how cable management will look like before you actually implement it.
- As a game developer you can use HoloLens together with AI to identify objects and their characteristics:
Case in point: VMI
When it comes to business development, attending industry fairs and exhibitions is a great chance to stand out. VMI Group, the market leader in production machinery for tire, rubber, cans, and health products, attended the Tire Technology Expo in Hanover this year.
Their stand at the expo featured a 4x4x3 m box where visitors entered wearing a HoloLens, which allowed virtual interaction with VMI’s products as if they were real. The experience included 3D animated objects, sound, and video that could be played via simple gestures.
Technically, all this was possible using 3D game engine components and C# scripting. Through these, we created a series of objects (representing VMI products) that respond to input from visitors. We were also able to create graphical effects like shadows and to create the physical behavior of objects. On top of that, we’ve also used spatial mapping to create a mixed reality experience. For instance, when booth visitors got farther from a 3D object, the sound would fade as the distance increased – just like in reality.
The 3D objects and the videos within the VR presentations made it easier for visitors to see how WMI’s solutions can make a difference. Also, compared to standard catalogs and product displays, it provided an interactive experience that set the company apart.
Please check out the video below for a snapshot of the experience.
Even if it might come across as expensive at first, using HoloLens and virtual reality is a great way for companies to stand out and to make an impression on potential clients. If you’d like to get in touch over this, please contact us.