This article first appeared on Forbes Middle East
A mid a backdrop of rapid change, UAE organizations have reached a critical stage in technology adoption. As local companies reassess their business models, it is vital they understand how enhanced virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are expected to impact society.
According to research, all the factors are now in place for VR and AR to deliver on their incredible promise. In the UAE alone, these technologies could contribute over $4 billion to the local economy by 2030, equivalent to 1% of GDP.
AR and VR are similar but distinct. AR presents digital information or objects in the real world through a mobile device or headset. These elements can appear as a flat graphical overlay or can behave as a seemingly real 3D object. VR immerses users in a fully digital environment through a headset or surrounding display.
The range of usages for AR and VR are as broad as they are varied. One major benefit these technologies offer organizations is the training and testing of employees and procedures. For example, Emirates NBD has launched its Virtual Reality academy for employees, which uses simulations to help staff understand real-life scenarios in a virtual environment but from the customer’s perspective. DEWA now uses smart helmets and goggles for engineers and technicians to remain in quick contact with one another to conduct repairs.
By bringing together teams from any location into a single virtual space, VR and AR technology can also accelerate product development. Design teams can test and evaluate different concepts more easily without having to invest in physical prototypes. This allows organizations to bring higher quality products faster to the market.
In fact, VR and AR can reduce costs and boost efficiency in many different ways, from improving the productivity of warehouse workers with AR glasses that improve picking and packing, to providing immersive information for engineers and technicians in the field. The benefits are not just about process improvement. Many businesses are starting to recognize the opportunity to create new revenue streams and grow existing ones.
Although these new opportunities must be underpinned by a sound business case, the use of VR and AR can also help position a company as innovative and forward thinking within its industry. In turn, this can help attract business partners, investment and talent.
Another compelling reason for businesses to explore the benefits of VR and AR is that the technology is finally coming of age. The hardware and software are increasingly user-friendly, content is becoming far more sophisticated and engaging, and improved connectivity is opening up a whole new range of business use cases. The adoption of 5G in the UAE will allow for improved and new consumer and enterprise experiences.
According to PwC, VR and AR are already contributing over $46 billion to global GDP. The benefits are real and can be achieved today.
Here are five practical steps to help organizations prepare for the challenges and opportunities brought about by VR and AR in the UAE:
Focus on a solid business case, such as using VR and AR to speed up a process, improve safety, reduce costs or open up new revenue streams.
Building the software is only one phase of a VR or AR solution. Understanding the technology and its capabilities, designing the solution to solve a business problem, and creating an effective deployment program are key to a successful implementation.
The positive uptake of VR or AR solutions will be largely dependent on how comfortable and intuitive it is to use. This is dependent on a number of factors including how the user performs actions in the experience, the hardware used, the facilitation of the experience, and even the environment.
Seeing really is believing when it comes to VR and AR. The best way to understand the benefits is to see VR and AR in action: start small and explore the potential with an initial pilot program.
Once you’ve created a small test case, gather appropriate feedback that will direct your next step: a greater investment in the current solution, a pivot in a different direction, or a completely new path.
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