Written By: Tim Wirtz

In a recent blog post, IG’s Design and Production Coordinator, Courtney Daly, highlighted augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as the future of engaging customers. Experts (Christopher Mims @mims, in this particular case) are going as far as to say AR is “the future, the dominant way we will interact with computers and the Internet.”

These are incredible new technologies, and they certainly have the potential to change the landscape of customer engagement — if they are done right. This month I attended MinExpo in Las Vegas and saw a lot of VR (and some AR) on my first day at the show. I presumed the abundance of these technologies was meant to draw crowds to certain manufacturers’ booths. Not a bad idea since this technology is amazing and the experience is second only to being in the real environment.29352138923_01050d1373_z

We’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about the importance of the user experience (UX). UX is key to success for both AR and VR development. If an audience (the U in UX) is not understood, the tactic implemented is likely to fail. In any stakeholder engagement it is essential to understand the audience — it should in fact, be the cornerstone of any new undertaking (interactive or otherwise).

Because AR and VR are so new — and so cool — companies are rushing to “get” it so they can be the first to “use” it. Often forgotten in that equation however, is the user. What I specifically noticed on my first day at MinExpo (and what I am
sure I’ll see at other shows) was that some manufacturers wanted to beat out their competitors by being the first to feature cool, “gee-whiz” AR/VR tools in their booths, but hadn’t quite considered the importance of UX.

At MinExpo, booths with AR/VR features were especially busy on the first day. The thought, I’m sure, was that the emotional experience would lead to an order for a piece of equipment. What was not expected though, was how the user would react physically. Motion sickness is something that VR, even if done absolutely right, can lead to, and companies using it need to be certain they are engaging with the user to inform them of the risk.

For example, and in incredibly generic terms, the typical mine equipment operator likely isn’t a “gamer” – they simply don’t have time for it. Their reality is sitting in the cab of a mega-ton machine moving earth all day (and night). Putting them in a VR experience that didn’t match their daily work caused sickness and ultimately a bad UX. The result is not an equipment sale, but rather a bad user experience not only with the VR tool –  but bigger than that – a bad experience with the manufacturer.

Here at IG we are investigating VR and AR. Experiences like I had at MinExpo will help shape how we approach these technologies, and also how/if we work with our clients to build them into their overarching customer engagement. In the end, it is all about the stakeholder and how they will best engage with a product or service.

If you have a question about this post, or are interested in an AR/VR demo, don’t hesitate to reach out to Tim or John.