You’ve probably already heard the buzz. With the release of iOS 12, Apple upgraded ARKit, increasing usability and functionality. Now you have augmented reality in your hand, all the time. So with AR leveling pictures on your wall and measuring the dimensions of that new bookcase, everyone can agree: AR and VR are joining virtual assistants as part of our daily lives.

So—VR, AR, MR. For those of us running behind in the newest technology race, what exactly do these mean? And more importantly, what are some practical ways can we use VR, AR, and MR for business, training, and education? Settle in for a quick overview and some streamlined examples.

First, extend your reality with XR.

Another one? you say, I thought we’re streamlining, not expanding.

XR simply stands for Extended Reality. Extended Reality is not another new technology, but rather an umbrella term for all types of augmented, mixed, and virtual reality. When someone says, “Extended reality,” they’re talking about any type of virtual, augmented, or mixed reality. The point of XR is to lessen confusion—by tucking VR, AR, and MR all under one term. If you’re more of a math person, X is the variable that represents any combination of different realities (R).

So, let’s overview some real VR, AR, and MR examples and brainstorm some real ways they can bring innovation to your business.

VR brings the user into the virtual world.

Virtual reality is pretty straightforward. Put on a VR headset and drop the user into a completely virtual environment. As you may expect from that definition, perfect VR is a gamer’s idea of utopia. But how does VR apply to sales, training, and education?

Using VR for Sales

Virtual reality as a sales tool is gaining popularity by the day. For sales reps, these innovations are especially helpful when selling complicated or large products. To keep this simple, let’s talk situationally.

You’re a sales rep for a yacht company. Many of your prospects are international executives whose schedules can’t accommodate stopping in for a quick tour. And yachts aren’t exactly a product you can take to the office in a briefcase. While images and videos can be powerful selling tools, there’s something special about seeing ocean views from the deck, walking the hallways, and exploring all the nooks and crannies of the ship yourself.

As a solution, you hire a technology design company to develop a custom VR program. This allows prospects to explore yachts on their own schedules and from their own offices. And you can fit it in your briefcase.

Using VR for Training

Let’s go straight into another situation. As a firefighting chief, you’re always looking for safer, more efficient ways to train your team. The answer? Construct a VR experience. Train with virtual fires, and walk your team through the proper procedures for breaking into a house and saving lives. You and your team face danger on a daily basis. VR gives you and your team a chance to practice safely.

Using VR for Education

You’re a first year medical student, cramming for an anatomy test on the human skeleton. Your roommate feels sorry for you, so they hand over their VR headset. The program guides you through assembling a complete skeleton. You can pick up the bones, examine them up close, then construct the skeleton like a 3D puzzle. Instead of cramming until 4 a.m., you’re in bed by midnight.

AR brings the virtual world to reality.

AR overlays virtual information into the real world, using a headset or a smart device (such as an iPhone). Unlike the straightforward applications for VR, augmented reality (AR) straddles a broad spectrum of possibilities. Though use on phones makes AR more practical than its VR counterpart, AR also can’t fit an in-depth yacht tour into your briefcase.

However, AR’s flexibility also makes it a spectacular tool for sales, training, and education.

Using AR for Sales

Let’s step back into situations. You’re presenting architectural designs in a meeting. But you don’t want to simply present some sketches or 3D models. No, you want your presentation to pack a punch. Using ARKit, you superimpose your designs as AR models—right onto the meeting room table.

And the best part? You don’t need to pass your phone around so everyone can see. Using ARKit’s sharing potential, everyone in the meeting can use their iPhone to view, adjust, and make notes on your designs.

Using AR for Training

You’re an HR manager for an airline, and you’re onboarding new hires. You’d love to give every new hire a look at the aircraft, but taking everyone to the airport is too much of a financial and logistical nightmare. The answer? Hire a design company to build you a custom AR experience. While not as intimate as VR, AR lets you place a downsized aircraft right on the meeting room floor.

New hires can walk around and examine the exterior of the plane from any angle. And with a touch of a button, they can pull out a working 3D model of an engine, break it apart, and even ignite it. Now that’s an experience.

Using AR for Education

You’re a history teacher, and you’re located in a city rich with historical significance. You’ve created some great powerpoints, but you want your students to do more than understand. You want them to enjoy and retain. So the school steps up. Using AR, every historical location gains an AR experience. Students follow an AR map to each location and relive multimedia moments in history—right where each event happened. The students love it, and you put new meaning in reliving history.

The Question of MR

OK, so you may have heard of mixed reality, or MR. But you’ve also probably heard only conflicting definitions. MR is an abstract concept, and no one fully agrees on its exact form. Right now, there are two main schools of MR thought.

AR + VR = MR

You’re blasting robots crawling through your kitchen walls, then a portal opens. You step through the portal onto a whole new planet. This version of MR switches seamlessly between AR and VR experiences, so you can have the best of both worlds. Cool, right? And unfortunately too cool to be real. While you may hear this definition of MR being tossed around, it’s more like the Holy Grail of all things XR.

MR is AR on steroids.

This definition is exactly like it sounds: mixed reality takes augmented reality to a whole new level. If AR and MR are a ladder, MR is the top rung. For example, Microsoft proudly calls its HoloLens headset MR—like the robot example above, only without the portal.

Limitless Possibilities

And the best part? Education, training, and sales aren’t the only uses for AR and VR. There’s an upsurge in doctors, surgeons, and medical students using AR to push the boundaries of medicine using Microsoft’s HoloLens, an AR headset that’s getting an upgrade in 2019.

Don’t believe the myth that AR and VR are only for games. Because these technologies offer endless innovative, flexible, and cost-saving possibilities, right here and right now.

Pause for a moment and dream about all the ways you can implement AR and VR in your business. Then design those dreams to life with XR.

Are you ready to step into the future?

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