We interviewed Fabrizio Chyrek, founder of Visual Pro 360, active in the field of immersive reality. He explained us how the Augmented and the Virtual realities are rapidly going mainstream in the business environment being used for training and marketing purposes, what are their main advantages and barriers towards their adoption.
What is the difference between VR and AR?
Virtual Reality aims to involve the user, leading him into an abstract and separate dimension that reproduces the reality.
Augmented Reality merges technology with reality: it adds to the surrounding environment relevant information for the experiencer.
Both technologies are evolving very rapidly: nowadays they are taking different shapes and they are frequently merging together creating a new technology named Mixed Reality.
What are the main application of Augmented and Virtual Reality at the business level?
In most of the cases, these technologies are used for training purposes: remote support for maintenance, remote diagnostics, simulations of operations in dangerous locations or involving prototypes that are still in the development stage.
They are also used for marketing purposes: both are valuable solutions to fulfil the need of constant innovation and to impress and involve the audience; for instance thanks to VR we can bring the audience in the business environment and show the processes to him, on this topic, we recently developed an article on how virtual reality will revolutionise business fairs.
What do you think they may become in the future?
According to official forecasts and to our experience, AR and VR will become more accessible and find many more uses in the different business sectors (e-learning, health, entertainment). We are convinced that in 20 years, they will become part of our daily routine.
Can you describe who are your business clients? Can you give us an example of a Virtual Reality project you developed for a business client?
In the last 6 months we worked with companies of different size and from different business sectors (food, packaging, beauty, aeronautic engines, sport events organizers).
One of the projects we are most proud of, was the partnership with Maserati in 2005: we were in charge of developing a Virtual Tour 360 to illustrate the functioning of the new assembly line named Comau in the plant in Modena.
We can claim we pioneered the adoption of VR and AR technologies in the automotive sector: they are nowadays frequently adopted both for outbound and inbound communications purposes and to support technicians and engineers.
Can you explain how VR can be used to train employees on the workplace?
We can give you the example of a project we developed for a big company operating in the paper sector: we were in charge to develop a VR application to train the employees on safety measures. Our goal was to reproduce hypothetical dangerous scenarios that could be faced by the employees and supply the information on how to behave in relation to them. Simulations had to be based in the company’s own environments.
We created high quality shootings of company’s plants in standard conditions and then we translated them into virtual environments: with the support of computer graphics, we eventually reproduced every single dangerous scenario. The application had a gaming interface and even allow employees to earn points during the simulation.
What are the main advantages of using Virtual Reality for training purposes instead of traditional methods?
The high involvement level plus the interaction experienced by the user are the main advantage of this kind of applications: these are indeed our main goal, together with the educational effectiveness, when we develop this kind of technologies for our clients.
Another great advantage is the long-term saving for the company: the development of this kind of educational programs with standard methods requires high investment in terms of time and human resources plus standard training programs cannot be “reproduced” anytime and anywhere the company needs.
What do you consider to be the barriers towards the adoption of VR and AR technologies?
The limited knowledge of these technologies and of their potential advantages are the main barriers. Costs and times to approach these technologies are still prohibitive for small companies anyway they decreasing rapidly over time. Advantages in terms of involvement and cost savings derived from the adoption of VR and AR technologies are not under discussion, anyway many companies still rely on outdated tools simply because they’re used to do so.
Limited knowledge of AR and VR and habits difficult to be eradicated are thus the main barriers towards their adoption.