A long time ago when I was in design school, we learned about a room that exists in virtual space where Lego creators could collaborate from across the Atlantic. Rumor had it that the designers were able to sit in a computer generated “holodeck” with an unlimited number of every type of brick Lego had to offer. Inside this new Virtual Reality, they could assemble sets in real time collaborating with colleagues in Denmark and the US to ensure build- and play-ability.
That seems like heaven during these COVID times. Imagine if you could subscribe to this virtual Lego building space. Now your weekly Zoom calls with friends could be a seat in your VR living room building the latest Lego City set. I personally like the Lego Technic Motorcycles but to each their own.
I admit that when I was first learning about the implications of AR, it was in the context of driving direction and other informational displays in your car. I was envisioning a confluence of the worst in Advertising and Distracted Driving. With the heads-up display in your Tesla being continuously peppered with modern day Burma Shave signs wherever you drive. This is not what I want from my driving experience, and I take great pains to turn off location push notification on all of my devices. But in recent months it has become clear that the uses and development of this technology could well be a boon to some of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic.
With games like Pokemon Go and Mario Kart Live, Augmented Reality is breaking into the gaming space in a big way. Now you can drive your remote control Mario Kart through your home with both virtual and IRL obstacles to avoid. Also it has been amazing to watch Adults in enthusiastic conversation with Tweens about the latest creature capture. As interfacing in an augmented world becomes the norm, It is time and this technology should be in a hurry to evolve.
I have worked with the big box retailers on using the Pokemon Go type of platform to enable customers in store to Treasure Hunt and capture elusive coupons and discounts. Thus bringing real value and fun to the discount retail environment.
Right now with so many restaurants and small service industry businesses struggling to remain in business it is necessary to consider all possible ways to create excitement, generate buzz, with the bonus of building customer trust and loyalty.
How would it be for a small home repair service to be able to do a virtual walk through of your home before having to physically occupy the space, or for a restaurant struggling with an empty dining room to be able to offer a Virtual Dinner Party?
How can a small business expect to leverage this kind of technology? Set aside the prohibitive expense. What would that look like?
I envision being able to call my favorite local restaurant and have them prepare a dinner for me and a few friends but instead of delivering it to my table, perhaps deliver to a couple of coordinated addresses. Couple this delivery with a secure link for a video chat and now you have a virtual dinner party. I love the idea of then being able to overlay or “skin” the chat space with the restaurant’s particular brand aesthetic. Now the business can add a whole new element of fun to both a mundane home delivered meal and the run of the mill Zoom call.
If you want to further expand on this it becomes possible to see whole new virtual spaces created to replace the corporate luncheon. Where learning and interaction can happen in the comfort of your pajama bottoms. Now conference planners and meeting organizers can begin to add value to what might otherwise be a dry lecture, especially if you add some of the game elements like Facebook’s burger catch or the Snapchat face filters. Of course most of the features that a conference host might want would be a moderated queue for questions, break out rooms for side conversation, and the integration of photorealistic holograms for display. Instead of sitting with a brochure now you can sit with a brochure and a 3D exploded view of the product so that you can interact with individual parts Tony Stark style.