Guest Blog: Accenture Tips on Developing VR/AR Apps for the Enterprise

Thursday 5/31/18 04:00pm
Posted By Leilani DeLeon
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Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

To deliver greater value to our community, Qualcomm Developer Network collaborates with a wide ecosystem of developers who are creatively using Qualcomm technologies in new and exciting ways. We have been fortunate to collaborate with Accenture and wanted to share insights on how they are using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in the enterprise to give our developer community an added advantage.

Accenture has recently been working on developing VR/AR applications for clients in automotive, aerospace, retail, manufacturing and more. Industry data reveals the enterprise is ripe for XR and Accenture wants to be sure you are able to transfer your in-demand skills as developers to capitalize on this rapidly growing space.

By Raffaella Camera & Brent Blum, Accenture Extended Reality (XR)

Innovative companies are actively exploring and adopting XR (VR/AR) technologies to achieve impressive business results. BMW, for example, is transforming the car buying experience with iVisualizer, an AR solution that helps customers view and configure their vehicles. A major consumer product goods company is using VR to improve employee collaboration for product merchandising and store layouts. Airbus is equipping technicians with smart glasses to optimize airplane cabin seat installations. And a global oil and gas company is reducing field maintenance costs and improving employee efficiency using AR.

As the opportunity in enterprise is rapidly expanding, VR/AR development skills are in high demand from a wide range of businesses interested in applications for employee and customer use. Industry analyst International Data Corporation (IDC) expects corporate AR/VR usage to rise faster than consumer usage; IDC also predicts revenue from hardware, software and services will grow to $215 billion by 2021 especially in retail showcasing, product development and industrial maintenance.

Accenture recognized the potential of this burgeoning opportunity, and that’s why we formed Accenture Extended Reality (XR), which encompasses the full experience spectrum across virtual reality and augmented reality. Our practice is dedicated to helping clients in a wide range of industries to imagine, design, build and maintain cutting-edge XR applications at scale for their businesses.

Lessons learned in XR development

We identified several promising industry use cases and types of applications for XR (see image).

Here are two examples we created for clients including some developer tips on what we learned in the process.

Project: Remote collaboration in merchandising

One of our consumer product goods clients wanted to create a solution to help improve collaboration opportunities with customers (i.e., big-box retailers) in the creation and set up of stores, as well as placements of products in stores. The goal was twofold: to decrease costs and to make it easier to exchange ideas in real-time.

We recommended and built an XR collaboration solution that was more realistic and immersive than a 2D screen. The VR-based application places participants (in this case, client employees and big-box retail employees) directly into the store setting without either party needing to travel. Through simultaneous use, both can collaborate virtually and remotely in store design and product placement.

Lessons learned in developing the XR collaboration solution were:

  • Know your limits
    To avoid simulation sickness while creating believable experiences, build to maintain frame-rates at or slightly above the device’s native frame-rate. 3D objects and environments should be optimized for the bandwidth, processing power and battery life of the target device as well as the employee journey. This includes prioritizing resolution and resources for objects in the foreground as “heavy” background objects can bog down an experience. As with all good development standards, be sure to test with actual users, especially employees who are new to VR.
  • Choose between 360-degree video vs. Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)
    360-degree video can offer an inexpensive way to create immersive on-the-job experiences in much less time than custom CGI. That said, not all scenarios make for an interesting 360 experience as camera placement can become an issue. The time, budget and level of immersion required will also serve as inputs to this early decision. In this case, we used CGI as employees needed to be able to look around the store and at specific shelves.

Project: Supply hands-free information for airplane assembly

Given the complexity of assembling an aircraft with thousands of moving parts, our airplane manufacturing client sought an innovative way to simplify and expedite the process, starting with cabin seat assembly.

Here we developed an XR solution delivered through industrial-grade smart glasses to provide technicians with instant, hands-free access to vital information. The scalable application displayed contextual instructions to help technicians mark aircraft cabin floors faster and more accurately while working with their hands. This reduced training time and increased worker productivity to furnish aircraft cabins.

Lessons learned in the XR assembly solution were:

  • Physical space (start with the end in mind)
    Development requires planning for a 6DoF environment, being mindful of the sights, sounds and physical space of the end user. Industrial environments like aircraft cabins, factory floors or warehouses will take planning to ensure open space is available and ambient noises will not break the worker’s concentration required for the immersive environment.
  • Think through the logistics of the experience
    Are there charging stations for devices? Will workers have an assigned device or will they share devices (hint: for basic hygiene, non-alcoholic antibacterial wipes are your friend). Workers should also be briefed on the proper ways to adjust the device to their anatomy – a device that’s not properly fitted will create a sub-optimal experience, wasting much of the effort that’s been put into building the experience. Lastly, who will support the devices? Ensure IT is ready to answer technical and ergonomic questions.

Gear up to learn more

Now it’s your turn to take the opportunity forward by helping enterprise innovators use XR to achieve their business goals. As you dive into XR development for the enterprise, using powerful processors like Qualcomm® Snapdragon® mobile platforms, which allow for truly mobile XR, high-bandwidth virtual reality experiences, can be essential in applying XR to more markets and providing greater accessibility in more places.

To learn more, watch the Augmented World Expo panel discussion, “How to Deploy Mobile XR in Enterprise,” where Accenture will be participating with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Upskill and CCS Insights.