Originally, both techniques were known for the excellent potential they showed in the video games and entertainment fields. Today however they are demonstrating their ability to transform the user experience in a wide variety of industries and service sectors.
It is now clear that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are not restricted to the world of entertainment and gaming. They might have been closely associated with these ‘fun’ areas in the very beginning but now the figures show that their positive impact goes much further.
A report from Goldman Sachs forecasts that by 2025 VR and AR will be generating more revenue than the television market. Meanwhile studies estimating the value of the VR and AR markets are outdoing each other in predicting revenue in the tens of billions. Today the applications of these cutting-edge technologies have already pushed beyond the boundaries of the entertainment and gaming industries.
“From the consumer’s viewpoint, AR and VR increase and enhance the human experience. Notions of time and space become relative. As a user, I can find myself in places that I’m exploring for the first time, in eras that I’ve never lived through. This can generate a lot of applications for a wide range of industries. This is even more true when VR and AR are combined with other technologies such as artificial intelligence and eye-tracking,” explains Sivan Iram, General Manager at River Studios, a company working in VR and AR.
Moreover, the power of VR and AR is being demonstrated in sectors such as commerce and mass retail, real estate, plus also in education and in-company training. A quick overview of the most innovative virtual reality applications currently in use should suffice to convince any doubters of the extent of AR/VR potential.
Retail wants to offer a compelling Customer Experience
In the retail sector, a number of luxury and ready-to-wear apparel brands have ventured into filming their fashion shows in 3D, later relaying them to their shops, where customers can use VR headsets to get a virtual front-row seat at the show.
The promise that virtual reality holds in these examples is to generate brand engagement. Volvo in the United Kingdom recently partnered with Microsoft HoloLens with a view to transforming the purchasing experience. Given that vehicles cannot be available for demonstration with every possible option at every car dealership, it is easy to see how augmented reality can help potential customers not only to visualise the interior and the exterior of the car, but also to test its range of functionality.
Total immersion a boon for real estate viewing
Another sector where opportunities exist to greatly enrich the buying experience is the real estate business. Matterport offers to create 3D visualisations of for-sale properties for real estate agencies, a cut above the 2D photos and modest 360° panoramas that are still the norm here. It provides a demonstration on a mobile app for the end-customer and will also provide the real estate agency with the hardware and software needed to make 3D visualisations, leaving the agency to take care of the actual shooting.
Meanwhile GeoVC, a New York-based start-up, has come up with an app that enables the user to scan a space, such as an apartment. It also allows you to measure the dimensions of a room and even modify the configuration – for example taking out one element such as a screen and replacing it with another feature. Here the immersive experience offered by VR technology is extremely useful when looking to purchase real estate. GeoVC reckons that people visiting a house or apartment with a view to purchase will tend to try and visualise themselves inhabiting the space and also project themselves forward in time – to the moment when any planned alterations have been completed.
Enhancing learning techniques at school and in-company
As the General Manager of River Studios emphasises, VR enriches the human experience. Taking this observation to heart, many start-ups have recently been getting into the education sector, which is an obvious field of application for these technologies. Plunge with London-based Alchemy VR into the midst of the primitive life forms which began to shape our world, listen to Albert Einstein explain his theory of relativity in an amphitheatre with the LectureVR created by Irish company Immersive VR Education, go on an expedition to Mars one afternoon with Google Expeditions, or simply practice your Spanish at a meet up via your headset, courtesy of Californian company AltspaceVR. Virtual reality has the power to transform the way we teach and how students of all ages acquire knowledge. zSpace technology is already in use in many educational establishments in the United States, revolutionising the way children learn about anatomy and biology.
And it is just one step from education to the world of work. Virtual reality and augmented reality are now playing an essential role in the changes taking place in the workplace environment and the tools used by Human Resources departments. ScioVR gives us a taste of what professional training might look like in future. The Swedish start-up has embarked on a research project – the ‘Virtual Operating Room’ – in partnership with Södersjukhuset, one of the main hospitals in Stockholm. Using VR headsets, the medical teams are immersed in classical situations, learn to repeat medical procedures over and over again, and also acquire best practice in terms of communication in the operating theatre.
VR and AR technologies can thus enable all kinds of people to develop not only technical competence but also soft skills by immersing them in standard situations. Will company adoption of VR and AR encourage more widespread use of the technologies beyond the realm of video-gaming and take them to the general public? Technological progress – starting with ever-higher picture resolution – coupled with a progressive reduction in costs, could well be a driver. And guess which company is currently working on a VR headset? No less a player than Google, which is now researching a successor to its Cardboard. This is a sign of things to come that should not be ignored.
How can the blue economy make a difference?
What if the future of sustainable business is at the bottom of the ocean for once? Marine biodiversity contains resources that can meet the environmental challenges of many sectors. Perhaps yours, too. Find out more during an online event about the promising blue economy on 11 March 2021.
Blue is the new green
71% of our planet consists of water. Seas and oceans play a crucial role in our climate, and coastal areas can capture up to five times more CO2 than tropical forests. The blue economy wants to benefit from all these advantages to improve both the environment and our well-being,
With local being the keyword. And that's where the difference lies with the green economy, which also focuses on the environment and health, but not always in such a sustainable and smart way. Eating organically grown quinoa from Ecuador, for example, is healthy and eco-friendly, but transporting it here is expensive and creates high amounts of pollution.
What does the underwater world have to offer that can be reused, recycled or converted into new sustainable products? A lot, it turns out, as the unique properties of organisms such as algae, starfish, jellyfish or sea cucumbers can be transformed into sustainable products with high added value. This is a process that requires creativity and innovation, and is already with us today.
For your sector, too
The blue economy is expanding rapidly and could bring about a revolution in a wide range of sectors such as healthcare, food, the plastics industry, cosmetics, energy and even aerospace. It is fully capable of helping companies transform their traditional activities into a sustainable model. And in Belgium's ports, the country already has a huge advantage and excellent access to coastal and offshore areas.
Another scoop of microalgae?
Microalgae, for example, offer a lot of promise, as they can renew themselves and thrive both in the desert and in the ocean. They contain many healthy components, such as proteins, that can be used to develop food products.
When discussing the oceans, the plastic problem is never far away. Human beings are producing more and more plastic as the world's population grows, yet the problem with the existing plastic is that it's nigh on impossible to recycle as its components are hard to separate. By making a completely different type of plastic from biomass, its recycling is already considered at the design stage. A large amount of biomass remains unused in the oceans, and using smart, natural polymers could revolutionise plastic production, for example. These polymers are capable of self-renewal and can adapt to their environment.
Who will pay for it?
Great ideas, you think, but who will pay for them? The financial sector certainly wants to play a role in this revolution and is prepared to take risks and invest in new technologies, production systems and R&D.
This commitment was formalised in various ways during the climate week in New York at the end of September 2020. BNP Paribas signed the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) and joined the UNEP FI's Collective Commitment to Climate Action, a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and the financial sector. In terms of the maritime sector, the Bank committed to working with customers to preserve and sustain the oceans. Read more about this commitment here (only available in French).
Would you like to find out whether the blue economy could make a difference to your sector?
Sign up here for a free online event on this subject on 11 March 2021 (in English only), organised by BNP Paribas Fortis Transport, Logistics and Ports Chair.
What is the future for mobility post-coronavirus?
The health and economic crisis has affected all aspects of every sector. Among them, mobility, for both private individuals and for companies.
Mobility is evolving every day. And it has been driven further as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Many people have been locked down and working from home has been widespread in many parts of the world.
The coronavirus crisis has changed concerns about transport
We are no longer moving around in the same way. And concerns are no longer the same. According to a BCG Consulting report, social distancing and vehicle cleanliness are the most important aspects for 41% and 39% of respondents, respectively, when choosing a mode of transport. There is also pre- and post-Covid mobility, with respondents being more likely to choose walking, their own bicycle or scooter, or their car than before the crisis.
Sustainable and alternative mobility in the years to come
Mobility has not necessarily waited for the coronavirus crisis in order to evolve. And, according to the same report, the share of more environmentally-friendly vehicles will continue to increase. By 2035, more than 35% of new vehicles will be electric cars, becoming the predominant form of motorised transport worldwide. Autonomous cars will also become more common, with 10% of vehicles being level 4 vehicles (able to travel without a driver, for example), and 65% level 2 or higher.
Customised mobility for employees, right now
The future of mobility is also relevant now, especially for businesses and the self-employed. The need for alternative modes of transport does not only concern private individuals, but also employees. There is no longer a single mode of transport for all situations, but a range of means depending on the need at a given moment. Electric cars, hybrid vehicles, electric bicycles, a public transport season ticket, car sharing, leasing, etc. These modes can take different forms and be combined in a mobility card, for example. There are benefits for the employees and managers of a company but also for the company itself through cost reduction, optimisation and fleet management.
Find out more about our tailor-made mobility solutions
The road to alternative mobility
Nowadays, responsible fleet management is built around sustainability. We're here to help you identify and realise your Corporate Social Responsibility ambitions.
Together we can cut your company's carbon footprint, improve employee mobility, and make sure these steps become a central pillar of your company's added value. In short, our aim is to have an alternative mobility policy.
We can help you make the switch to alternative mobility and new technologies to reduce your carbon footprint. Our SMaRT approach ensures your fleet has the best energy mix to match your strategy and driver profiles.
Alternative mobility needs new technologies to go hand in hand with new infrastructure. That's why we offer not only electric cars, but also the right charging solutions, too. As part of our integrated service provision we can determine how many charging points you need, install them, and manage how they are used both at the workplace and at the driver's home.
Modern mobility management is about more than just cars or vans. You need a 360-degree approach. We'll work with you to determine your mobility strategy and needs. Greener cars are just one of the options available. We have a number of mobility management solutions (such as the Mobility Card) and alternative mobility solutions (such as bicycle leasing) to inspire your organisation to offer a more flexible range.
Focus on employees
When you put your employees at the heart of your organisation, you're in a better position to find skilled employees, satisfy them, and retain them. Go a step further than just an alternative mobility solution: focus on their safety and let them play an active role in achieving your sustainability goals. Trust us to improve their safety and integrate new technologies.
Operational leasing is offered by Arval Belgium SA/NV, with the intervention of BNP Paribas Fortis SA/NV – Montagne du Parc/Warandeberg 3, B-1000 Brussels, Brussels Register of Companies VAT BE0403.199.702.
Promotion only available from Thursday 21 January up to and including Wednesday 31 March 2021 and is only available to professional clients (self-employed, liberal professionals and SMEs) of BNP Paribas Fortis and Fintro.
The information provided here does not constitute an offer. An offer is made only after your file has been accepted and is always subject to Arval Belgium SA/NV's General Terms and Conditions.
Mobility, more than just four wheels
BNP Paribas Fortis offers complete mobility solutions. Sometimes a four-wheeled fleet is not enough for your mobility needs.
As a reliable partner, we can help you with every step – or pedal – of your mobility trajectory.
Mobility analysis and advice
Our mobility managers can work together with your relationship manager to develop a future-focused mobility strategy.
We start by listening to you: we want to understand your needs and concerns when it comes to mobility. This is our starting point for creating the best mobility solution for you and your company. We will build on this foundation with our expertise, while also taking Belgium's specific legal and fiscal ecosystem into account.
New mobility solutions
As well asfull-service leasing,we also offer our core product giving you access to our full mobility range, a wide range of basic services and added-value services such ascar parts,carpool management,bicycle leasingandmobility cards. All of our mobility services and their associated services such as parking, electric charging, fuel, tolls and car washing are within reach.
Managing your mobility budget
We'll help you and offer advice about implementing the federal mobility budget[VBK1] in your company. If that's too limited to meet your specific needs and aims, we can develop a personalised mobility budget solution to manage your mobility costs in line with the legal framework, just as we've done for a number of clients previously.
We've already implemented some tailored cost-neutral solutions, allowing our clients to combine lease cars with lease bicycles or other mobility solutions. This means the company can meet its goals while also making good on its promises and obligations.
Those ambitions might range from an ambitious CO2 agenda to a competitive offer to attract talent or a solution to solve your lack of car parking spaces.