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Preparing your organization for VR and AR technology

Virtual and augmented reality technologies are slowly making their way into the enterprise as new use cases emerge. Organizations looking to deploy virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to create more immersive collaboration must carefully evaluate hardware, software and the workflows they want to enhance.

Developing AR and VR in the enterprise is vastly different than traditional IT projects, according to John Nall, CEO of Appzion, an advisory services firm in Newport Beach, Calif.

“If your goal is to make data actionable in the field, think about what is the ideal solution,” Nall said in a recent webinar. Organizations must evaluate what they can accomplish with VR and AR technology and how users might adopt this new form of collaboration.

Organizations must think about how they want to present augmented data in a user’s field of view in the headset and avoid overwhelming users with too much information. Nall said the current trend is to use visual cues and icons to present information instead of text.

Organizations must also consider the types of objects they want to create with VR and AR technology. The size and shape of a virtual object, as well as the real-life surface that users work on can affect the success of VR and AR collaboration. Reflective or transparent surfaces, for example, can cause problems with displaying augmented and virtual content, Nall said.

Evaluate hardware and software options

Once the ideal use case for VR and AR technology is chosen, organizations must evaluate the available hardware and software options.

With VR and AR software, organizations can develop applications in-house to create their augmentations or deploy a packaged service from a vendor, Nall said. Packaged services, however, tend to be more expensive with upfront costs and integration costs with legacy systems.

Organizations can choose from two types of hardware: monocular or binocular headsets. Monocular headsets display content in one eye, much like Google Glass. Binocular headsets, like the Microsoft HoloLens, use both eyes and provide a more immersive experience. Binocular headsets are often two to three times more expensive than monocular headsets, Nall said.

“You should realize that hardware is ephemeral,” he warned. The VR and AR industry is evolving quickly and most hardware will be obsolete within 18 months.

Hardware security is also an important consideration. While headsets may not hold a significant amount of data, they are often connected to the internet and can be a doorway into the network if hacked. Before deployment, organizations should loop in their IT or security team, deploy mobile device management and additional security measures such as access and authentication.