Augmented reality (AR) has largely been used in entertainment and gaming but has a future in a variety of areas. That could include business productivity, travel, driving, and all sorts of other areas. Much of that technology exists, but how it will be implemented and what will become the fastest growth areas for this technology have yet to be decided.
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This video was recorded on June 25, 2019.
Jason Moser: I think augmented reality is similar in that regard. It's basically fairly commoditized technology. It's a matter of what companies do with it. Let's talk about some of the different verticals where companies are doing neat things. There are two things that come to mind when we mention AR first and foremost. People immediately think visual, and they also think consumer-facing entertainment. The reality is, it does stretch across more markets.
Dan Kline: Yeah. That's just the gimmick. I think the one we're going to see it most practically is business productivity. We are very regular Slack users. We've talked about this. That is the method of communication at The Motley Fool internally and externally. We are also a very big Zoom meeting company. When you and I have a Zoom meeting, you're just getting me sitting at my desk in a shared work space or sitting in my living room, wherever I happen to be. It's not necessarily a professional face if, for example, you and I are meeting with, I don't know, a big radio company that wants to hire us. [laughs] That was just being silly! No radio companies are trying to hire us!
Moser: Yeah, I'm just kidding!
Kline: But, let's pretend we wanted to present a certain image. There might be a Zoom/ Slack augmented reality where we could both be sitting in the same room or in a very professional boardroom setting, or, to be goofy, in a surf lodge, skiing down a hill, whatever it is. Some of it is a little silly. But there's very practical applications for, hey, we're a business, we want to present a united front, but we're not in the same place. A lot of businesses are not in the same place. Even for internal Fools, we have multiple locations. Even, I've been in the building and a meeting starts early, and you have to jump in visually, because as somebody who doesn't work here, you don't always have easy access to getting to different floors. Some of the ability to make remote work better. Driving augmented reality. Showing you directions and accidents as an overlay in a real time visualization, rather than having to glance down and take your eyes off the road to look at GPS.
Moser: Travel. Travel, very similar, either when it comes to landmarks or directions. Think about the applications from Waze and Google Maps. The possibilities are pretty endless from that perspective in regard to communicating information.
Kline: This is just one of those things that, you're probably using it, and you don't think about it. When we talk about virtual reality or augmented reality, we tend to think the theme park experience. You mentioned Disney World. At Disney Springs -- we've talked about this on Consumer Goods before -- there's a place called The Void. You put on a headset and a backpack. It weighs like 60 pounds. And you do a virtual Star Wars.
Moser: Oh, OK! Star Wars, I'm down with.
Kline: It's the best thing I've ever done!
Moser: I thought you were telling me I was getting ready to go on a hike or something.
Kline: You look down, and you're a Stormtrooper. The actual space that this is in is maybe the size of this studio plus the control room over there, but you feel like you're on a spaceship. You walk across a floating bridge on Mustafar, the lava planet from Episode III. You feel like you're going to fall off. That technology is there. That's virtual reality. When you walk into the new Star Wars Land, your phone helps you see things that aren't there, helps you translate things. That is a mixed use augmented reality.
You're butting up against a couple of things that keep this from being super widespread. The biggest one is battery life. I think Disney has to figure this one out. I can't go to Disney World, spend six hours in Star Wars Land using my phone as an augmented reality device, without carrying -- I already have a battery pack on my phone. I'd have to carry two extra batteries. As we start to see the technology catch up, I think every mall, every store, is going to have enhanced experiences. Things like, have you ever tried to follow directions on an app in a mall?
Kline: They don't work. It'll say step by step. In theory, we should be able to have an augmented reality that you follow along the line. It projects a line on the floor that only you can see, and you follow the yellow brick road to where you're trying to go.
Moser: That makes sense.
Kline: Those types of things are going to make this widespread. Then we'll see where the high-end, expensive things are going to be.
Moser: Let's talk about a couple of other applications that strike me. One of the things I was talking about at Fool Fest recently was the world of engineering. More and more companies like Autodesk -- Autodesk was the company I spoke of specifically at Fool Fest -- these are companies that essentially make that 3D CAD software that helps people figure out how to design what they want to design. In many cases, it is utilizing augmented reality to see how something may fit in a given space. Again, perhaps not the most consumer-facing, yet technology that is having a big impact on a lot of things around us.
Kline: Yeah. One of the things it does is it saves money. If I have to build a prototype of something -- let's say you're making a computer. The tolerances inside a computer for certain parts of it are very, very small. An iPhone, the tolerances are ridiculous in terms of fitting everything in. If I can do that in a virtual way where I'm looking at it, and I don't have to hand-make the parts, or spend money to create tooling for a part that may not end up being the part, you should be able to have a big investment and take away a lot of the trial and error because it's exact. Right now, when you make something, you either have to commit to making it or you 3D print it, and that might not be as exact. This can be absolutely exact. You don't know that as a consumer, but that's absolutely happening right now.
Moser: Sure. Retail companies are bringing this to the consumers in all sorts of different fashions. You can go to Amazon and put a piece of furniture in your room, or Wayfair. I saw an announcement the other day, YouTube is going to incorporate augmented reality with makeup lines so that people can try on makeup in augmented reality to determine whether they like it or not. You see all of these different types of implications. It just is a matter of digging in there and seeing what companies are doing what with it.
Kline: Some of this is going to fail spectacularly. You talked about makeup. Have you ever been at a meeting where a company is trying to figure out its logo, and they're arguing about color?
Moser: Not a logo per se, but I used to be in the golf business. A lot of the golf business, there's a lot of publishing and stuff that went with artwork. It can drag on.
Kline: Computers and websites do not render color the way we see them. Unless you're using a MacBook with a retina screen, an iPhone with the Absolute, the makeup is not going to look like what you think it looks like, no matter how well they do projecting it on you. So, yeah, that would be great for when you and I dress up as half of KISS next year in October. We can decide if I'm the kitty cat or you're the star man or whatever it is and who looks best because the exact shade of black and white doesn't matter. If your wife or my wife -- my wife doesn't wear any makeup, but if she was deciding what shade to paint her eyes, I don't know what you call that, makeup, to go with her dress, that might turn out not as well because the technology is not there. It depends what your tolerances are. For dimension, it's perfect. For color, not as much.
Moser: Still working on it.