Many Meta Blog readers have asked us questions about various topics ranging from getting a job in the AR and VR industry to how to get started with AR development and design. To help answer those questions, we're introducing a new blog series called The Other Side of the Table, which is where we do our best to step into our readers' shoes by providing in-depth answers to their questions. The first article in the series addresses the question of "How do I convince my boss to buy a VR / AR headset?". We've formatted the article in "point vs. counterpoint" fashion, and hope that the information helps!
Point: "AR and VR are fads – they're not viable"
Counterpoint: AR and VR are here to stay (hint: follow the investment and acquisitions trail).
VR made its foray into our everyday lives in the early '90s (known as "The First Renaissance of VR"). Pioneers like Tony Parisi had long championed VR's promises and benefits. However, the display and computing processing technology powering those headsets at the time were inadequate and extremely costly. Fast forward to today, and you'll see that display technology like LED and OLED are becoming the norm (replacing LCD), and that computing and graphics processing power has grown exponentially to the point where the best video cards render graphics photorealistically – ushering us all into The Second Renaissance.
Despite these advancements, it is still early (but rapidly growing!) days for AR and VR:
Illustration courtesy of product design legends Luke Wroblewski and Tom Chi.
But, if you were to look at the various reports showing investments into the industry along with projected revenue, you'll quickly understand why Goliaths like Apple, Facebook, and Google (and even Amazon to a certain extent) have all been building their own headsets and software through acquisitions and R&D. And looking at the money trail, you'll find that funding for AR and VR companies has reached the same levels as 2016.
Point: "Where's the ROI from AR and VR?"
Counterpoint: 53% of mid-sized and private companies are running AR and or VR pilot projects (it's no longer just for the enterprise).
As surprising as that stat might be (courtesy of a recent Deloitte survey conducted from July 14 to July 24, 2017), it's no surprise that executives and the companies they lead are increasingly futureproofing themselves – especially given how quickly AR / VR and other emerging technologies (such as artificial intelligence and the blockchain) are evolving. Now more than ever, companies need to stay innovative (and paranoid, to paraphrase former Intel CEO and Silicon Valley legend Andy Grove) in order to survive.
Even after reading the Deloitte report and the first part of this article, your boss might still object to the costs of AR and VR headsets (and we don't blame your boss, either, for doing due diligence). High-powered AR and VR headsets, like the Meta 2 Development Kit, run on average between $800 to $1,500. And assuming you have that kind of money lying around, pricier headsets cost between $3,000 to $5,000.
However, we are quickly approaching the end of the year, and chances are there's some budget left – so why not use those remaining funds to buy a headset, create an app or tool relevant to your company's business (or form a crackerjack team that's keen on building next-gen experiences), and showcase the progress you're making to your boss on a weekly basis? Not only will you build up your portfolio and skills, but you'll quickly establish some serious street cred and impress your boss by showing how AR and VR can help create new business and revenue opportunities or train people more efficiently.
Point: "AR and VR can't help our business right now."
Counterpoint: Other companies are already realizing improvements in employee efficiency and streamlined processes.
Studies from 2003 and 2013 have shown that people using 3D instructions perform tasks faster and more efficiently than people using 2D paper instructions. And in a recent study conducted by Accenture and Meta, AR has been shown to enable people to more quickly complete operation-related tasks, e.g., assembling a Lego model. Deloitte's recent survey also came to the same conclusion, finding that "respondents say mixed-reality technologies are proving particularly useful in employee learning and operations-related tasks":
While it's tempting to chalk up these research findings to ivory tower dilettantes, you'll quickly see that companies like Kalloc Studios and Gensler (the largest architectural firm in the world) have been field testing AR with engineers, designers, and architects – and reaping their benefits. For example, Kalloc Studios has created an AR application called Fuzor, which allows users to work together on and review BIM models in real-time. Errors in the design review process are caught early on, saving time and revision costs for everyone involved.
Using the Meta 2 Development Kit, designers can interact with BIM models and construction plans in real-time on the Fuzor app.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of all of the potential objections your boss might raise when you sit down with them to discuss investing in AR and VR – they cover the most commonly raised objections our readers have sent us. However, these considerations should serve as good starting points. And as always, if you have additional points and counterpoints you think we should include, then by all means send them our way! PM us on Twitter and or Facebook, and we'll include them in this article.