The capabilities and accessibility of AR and VR.
Our next research question is looking at the capabilities and accessibility of AR and VR. We have decided that when implementing the immersive technology into our services, we want it to be accessible to all, easy to use but still about to wow our participants and immerse them into our world. Therefore, we are hoping to decide on a specific immersive technology to use and research from this point onwards. We are going to be looking at the following criteria in order to decide if we should concentrate on VR or AR.
Can it be used on a smart device?
Will it be easy to use for the participant?
Will it need internet to run?
Will additional equipment need to be purchased?
Will it limit or increase the number of participants?
Will it enhance the experience already created?
Will it allow participants to interact with live performance as well as a digital performance?
Overall, these are the questions which we will be answering when looking into AR and VR throughout this blog post.
We first looked at the capabilities of virtual reality. We wanted to see how far VR could go and how far we could take VR. Upon researching current projects involving VR, whether it be games or performances, we soon noticed that VR was often used to immerse their audience into a new world which they created. This was achieved through a headset which the audience member would wear. An example of this work can be seen in Goodnight Sleep Tight by ZU-UK (2017). This performance saw audience members become immersed into the world of a little girl being put to bed by her mum. You were tucking into bed, kissed on the check and passed your favourite teddy bear to keep you safe at night. This was a very individual experience. Each performance only has an audience member of 1 person. When ZU-UK performed this piece, they needed multiple headsets and performers to guide the audience through their journey. This performance was complimented by an actor who was performing outside of the headset. This person would touch the audience member and mirror the actions of the mother character which the audience could see within the headset. It could be argued that this heightened the senses of the audience member giving them a more immersive experience.
Additionally, still concentrating on Goodnight , Sleep Tight as a case study, it is apparent that the accessibility of virtual reality is very small. This is not just due to the cost of equipment and experiences, but also the accessibility which the audience has to VR. Usually, VR is a very individual experience, it often only involves one audience member at a time. Due to this, group experiences can not happen and audience member numbers are halved in an instant by only being able to accept a certain number of people into a performance or experience. Fortunately, VR can be cost effective. There are cardboard headsets which are affordable and easy to put together. This can be used with a smart phone and can work in viewing 360 films and visuals. However, if you are wanting a virtual reality experience with impressive graphics, spacial sound and interactive movement, then you will need to dig deep into your pocket to the sound of around £1,000 or more. Unfortunately, this is the factor which often alienates companies, creatives and audiences members into using VR to further their experiences. Furthermore, in relation to our own company (The White Tent Company), we soon realised that virtual reality would create a wall between us and our customers, financially and physically. We would not be able to purchase multiple VR headsets and also upkeep the quality of these headsets to ensure they were always at their best performance. Also, this would mean we could only accept a specific number of participants at a time. This would go against our current business model which states that we can work with 10 to 50 participants at a time, as long as we have a safe space. Additionally, this would physically put a wall between our live performance and our digital performance. We value the relationship between live and virtual and how they can compliment each other to further immerse our audience. However, by using VR there would be no need for our live space, thus changing our company values and our overall experiences.
To make our final decision we looked back at our questions which we compiled at the beginning of this post. We answered these questions from the information which we found out.
Can it be used on a smart device? Yes, but only low level graphics and will not be interactive.
Will it be easy to use for the participant? It can be easy to use for the participant, but could take a while for the participant to feel comfortable within the virtual space to interact. Motional sickness could become a problem.
Will it need internet to run? If the application is built offline, then it can work offline too.
Will additional equipment need to be purchased? Yes, a VR Headset will be needed and potentially a computer for the programme to run on.
Will it limit or increase the number of participants? Limit. Due to the equipment needed, it will limit the number we can bring into each experience.
Will it enhance the experience already created? Overall it would create a different experience, however, we do not feel that it would enhance the experience which has already been created as it would not be able to work with the live performance experience which has already been established.
Will it allow participants to interact with live performance as well as a digital performance? No.
Next, we looked at augmented reality and the capabilities and how accessible it can be. Starting with the capabilities of AR, we discovered that augmented reality has come strides over the past few years. At first AR was an immersive technology which not a lot of people knew what to do with until it was introduced into social media. Platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram currently use AR for their filters which people use to take pictures. This is the addition of the digital into the real world, which happens when you place a dog filter over your face when you want to take a selfie. This is a simple form of AR known as marker-based augmented reality (Borkhatariya, 2018). This is where the programme, which is usually within an app, scans an area and then places the AR on top (Page, 2017). Apart from marker-based AR there is also markerless, location based, superimposition, project based and outlining augmented reality. All of these different variations of augmented reality will give a different experience for the user. Within recent years, a new placement of AR has also been created. When first creating AR it was hard to take into consideration objects which were already in the physical space, they could be used as markers but that was all. The AR graphics were unable to combine the physical objects into their world, this often meant all graphics would be places ontop of physical items in the real world and there was no depth. However, now, after years of testing, augmented reality can now take the depth of a space with objects into consideration. For example; an augmented Cat could appear on your screen on the floor on the room you are in, walk under the table, disappear behind a table leg and then hop up onto the tabletop. Beforehand, the AR Cat would appear on the floor using markerless AR and would walk back and forth ignoring the table within the room, which would result in it walking in front of the table leg in an unrealistic fashion (Locklear, 2017).
With AR evolving everyday, the way in which it is being used is still simplistic and easy to access. Google has started to use AR in their search on your smart devices. If you Google a lion, for example, you can view it in real life scale through your smart device's camera in the real world. Overall, this proves that even though augmented reality can come in many forms and can give multiple experiences, it can be reached at your fingertips on your mobile phone or tablet. Usually AR is in the form of an app or web browser, therefore additional equipment does not need to be purchased to experience this immersive technology. However, you will most definitely need to hire an external team to help you make your vision into a reality.
Finally, circling back to the questions which we asked ourselves at the beginning of this post.
Can it be used on a smart device? Yes.
Will it be easy to use for the participant? Yes, as it is an immersive technology which is already present within certain social medias (Snapchat, Instagram, Google).
Will it need internet to run? No.
Will additional equipment need to be purchased? No, however we will need to hire an external company to create the AR App.
Will it limit or increase the number of participants? This could potentially increase the number of our participants. However, we would be able to sustain our number of participants per experience.
Will it enhance the experience already created? Yes, we believe that it will compliment the live aspect of our experiences.
Will it allow participants to interact with live performance as well as a digital performance? Yes.
In conclusion, we have decided that augmented reality will better suit out project rather than virtual reality. This is due to the wall which virtual reality creates for us as a company. This wall is financial and physical. It would mean a decrease in participation numbers because of the lack of equipment, and also with a headset on each participant, it becomes a very individual experience which does not work in a team building environment. Additionally, by wearing a headset it stops the interaction of the real world. There can be some interaction through other senses, which are not sight, but we use our physical space for live performance in a visual factor, and we want an immersive technology to compliment this not hinder it. Therefore, we believe augmented reality would help us to modernise our murder mystery experience for our customers.
Borkhatariya, M. (2018, February 17). 6 Types of Augmented Reality: Choose the Best for Your Business. Retrieved from Medium: https://medium.com/@mansiborkhatariya/6-types-of-augmented-reality-choose-the-best-for-your-business-15798e9c43cd
Goodnight, Sleep Tight. (2017). ZU-UK.
Locklear, M. (2017, December 6). Researchers found a way to tuck AR objects behind real ones. Retrieved from engadget: https://www.engadget.com/2017-12-06-tuck-ar-objects-behind-real-ones.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAK7snKRXrGmzOolQFlmSOVjcuVtWpbvz4sIcBIZ5ec6n_1oVSKft2UqUgaXMZd4OauuNigQw74F9rhL3glhhvCVxsdWVNnsi1MUipSKleQB0JHQdrybeiFK_We6vqQRGAXOn9BfpuEBWVKSSj0M_AHZ686gyXvgt7k9cD_NHQbwi
page, R. M. (2017, December 4). New AR Display Nestles Digital Images Into Real Life Way More Accurately. Retrieved from Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/2017/12/04/147300/more-realistic-ar-display-places-digital-images-among-real-objects/