A few weeks ago a couple of small cardboard boxes found their way in to the VisualCue offices. We work in an open, bullpen style environment so naturally when one of us figured out what the cardboard boxes were for we naturally all wanted to try it.

Turns out it was a very simple virtual reality device using your average smartphone and some simple lenses to transport the viewer to various places around the world (and solar system- visiting Mars was amazing.)

But it sparked a new wave of discussion around the office regarding our own development and progress in bringing data visualization to life with these nascent technologies, so we thought we’d share them with you.


What is Augmented Reality?

Before we can talk about it effectively, we need to define, in very clear terms, what it is that we’re talking about and that means a brief introduction to the differences between virtual and augmented reality. It’s important because at VisualCue, we believe that the future of data visualization lies in the latter.

For anyone new to this particular brand of technology we recommend heading overt to Pitchbook, they put together great packets of information on a variety of topics- including virtual and augmented reality.

In their 2015 analyst report, they succinctly say “VR [virtual reality] is associated with the removal of the real-world environment from the user’s experience. In contrast, AR pertains to the overlay of virtual elements onto the user’s real-world environment.” They go on to clarify that “the basic premise is that AR experiences do not block out the real environment.”

And apparently, the rest of the world is taking notice. According to Pitchbook, “the VR movement is stronger than ever today, and we’ve seen that show up in the numbers. Close to $4 billion of capital has been invested in the space since 2010, with more than half of that in the last two years.”

So where is all of that money going? Into developing applications for a number of markets of course. And while we loved Pitchbook’s breakdown of the VR/AR market, we felt they were lacking in one key element of their “Market Applications and Sector Briefs”: data visualization.


Why do we care?

Let us explain- at VisualCue, augmented reality is something we feel passionate about. We’ve been working hard to bring data visualization into augmented reality in new, innovative ways. We actually already have a working smartphone application that overlays Tiles, via a smartphone, over the people or assets whose data they represent.

We’ve put lots of hours into augmented reality because, quite frankly, we love what it does and think it’s amazing to see our Tiles float around an office, updating performance information in real time.

The other thing we love about the idea of augmented reality is the ability to move. There actually is a term for this- it’s called “untethered” and it simply means that the computing power required to run the augmented reality software travels with you rather than you having to be tied to your desk.

We think this “unobstructed” view of reality, overlayed with Tiles in augmented reality with the ability to move around the environment and see data in real time is going to be important for one, extremely important reason, and it’s a movement we’ve heard a lot about: the Internet of Things.

But more on that in another post.

Until next time,

The VisualCrew