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Pokémon Go will continue taking over your workplace

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Pokémon Go’s uptake has created a media circus we haven't seen since the early iPhone days. What exactly caught the imagination so deeply, and does augmented reality for business herald a change for consumer behaviour?

For the uninitiated, the game has cleverly combined a number of human fascinations. By gamifying collecting, adding GPS location awareness and creating an augmented reality wrapper, Pokémon Go delivered something quite unique. For the first time, AR has escaped the creative technology labs and has gone mainstream in a big way. In fact, the world went a bit mad for it.

 

When you unpack the game’s mechanics, you see that it's similar to collecting football cards. The game holds your captured Pokémon which are ranked depending on different dimensions and attributes. Game devotees strive for different ranks so they can win battles. The better your Pokémon, the better your chances at dominating in your team’s gym battle. It’s a game mechanic that should be familiar to anyone under the age of 80.

 

While it may be tempting to write Pokémon Go off as the latest internet fad, there are some important lessons to learn from the technology and the underlying psychology that you can use to plan compelling digital experiences in the future using VR and AR for business.

 

We all secretly love games

Revenues from the computer gaming industry are on the ascendance, at the expense of both music and movies. Why? Because gaming has gone mainstream with social media and a generation that has grown up with consoles like Sony's Playstation.

There’s also the ubiquity of powerful mobile devices and the growth of "snackable" content options. People are now conditioned to check social media, email and app notifications throughout the day. This "personal" behaviour has an impact on the workplace in two concrete ways.

 

The first is the behaviour driven by "snackable" games or other content. We’re seeing the rise of new messaging technologies like Slack or the Microsoft competitor under development, Skype Teams. Essentially, these tools create a "stream" of interactions around a certain topic, where people can use less formal language, more emojis, and enjoy more transparency than email offers.

 

Communicating in an open and transparent way like this allows for multiple inputs from all participants. Ideas and random thoughts cross-pollinate to spark ideation and drive interesting outcomes much faster. It's like playing a game where you work together to achieve a common goal.

 

The other impact of gaming is the growth of platforms that offer to "gamify" anything from Learning Management Systems through to shifting company culture. This is big business in the US where companies likeBadgeville or Lithium are using big data science and behavioural economics specialists to tailor programmes for businesses seeking specific outcomes in employee or customer engagement.

Pokemon Go

How can you use this knowledge in your own business?

By understanding that staff and customers alike have micro-moments of interaction all day on mobile, you can design smoother, mobile-first customer experiences. Giving audiences the ability to achieve their goals through smarter experiences is an increasingly important area of competitive advantage.

 

When you’re faced with evolving to meet the challenges of our increasingly digital economy, it can be difficult to create a culture open to change. Instead of taking a typically dry approach to training, consider how game mechanics can be used to inspire and tap into your team’s competitive nature. Perhaps you can set challenges in a game context to drive specific outcomes. And use the transparency of today’s communication methods to drive greater team-related understanding, contributions and innovation.

 

Whether it’s AR, VR or MR (mixed reality like the Microsoft HoloLens), the augmentation of our vision is about to take off. By some estimates - as early as 2020 in fact - AR/VR will be a USD150 billion global market.

 

Pokémon Go, while relatively simplistic in execution, has nonetheless captured global attention and created a tipping point from which there’s no return.

This nascent industry is bristling with interesting new technology and the innovations are arriving with increasing pace.

 

Sony is one of the first to seize the opportunity and has enhanced its PS4 console with a VR headset accessory. Having a consumer device already dedicated to fast graphics processing is a serious head start. And Sony seems intent on pushing forward quickly having just announced the PS4 Pro with support for 4K (UHD) and HDR - two high end technologies that are critical to creating believable immersive experiences.

 

Google with its Cardboard VR product, or Samsung with its Gear VR, rely on the power and resolution of smartphones to provide visual augmentation. Then there is the $2 billion start-up acquired by Facebook who produce the Oculus Rift.

Microsoft is taking a different tack. Sticking with its roots in business software, Microsoft has produced one of the most interesting takes on the entire sector - and targeted it directly at businesses.

 

The HoloLens is a "mixed reality" device, neither completely taking over the user's view like VR, nor making things change form as in AR. Instead, through a sophisticated technique of rendering scenes with CGI-like techniques in real-time, Microsoft has given us the first commercial glimpse of what a synthesised reality might look like.

 

The early demos were nothing short of amazing. Now with a formal announcement of the HoloLens Commercial Suite, the company is staking a claim for the business market. Coupled with the announcement that HoloLens will be able to be managed through a Mobile Device Management service such as Microsoft InTune, the strategy looks very serious indeed.

 

What are the real applications for business that go beyond entertainment?

Imagine a manufacturing plant that wants to alter a production line - that’s typically a multi-million dollar exercise in capital outlay and lost time. Now consider that a VR training solution focused on the new line’s processes could have the entire workforce training before the line is even altered.

 

Staff would get experience on the new line, readying themselves for their changing responsibilities at the same time as uncovering design flaws long before it is physically built. The result is dramatically improved processes, more engaged staff and a reduction in lost earnings from production downtime.

 

Pre-visualisation is another potential killer app for VR. It's commonplace for architects to be using Computer Aided Design (CAD), but another thing entirely to walk around in a virtual space and make real-time alterations with a client.

 

While consumer entertainment may be leading the way now, VR technologies are very quickly being adapted for commercial use. In the next 5 years, supporting and developing content for VR training may well be as commonplace as the smartphone is today.

 

We’re keen to hear your thoughts on these ‘new realities’ and discuss how they can improve your team and customer experiences. Make an appointment for a call today.

 

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