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Researchers Develop a Software that Turns Smartphone into Portable AR Device

The new system, called Portal-ble, could be a tool for artists, designers, game developers and others to experiment with AR

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The new system, called Portal-ble, could be a tool for artists, designers, game developers and others to experiment with AR. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a new software system that turns smartphones into Augmented Reality (AR) portals, enabling users to place virtual building blocks, furniture and other objects into real-world backdrops, and use their hands to manipulate those objects as if they were really there.

The new system, called Portal-ble, could be a tool for artists, designers, game developers and others to experiment with AR, said researchers from Brown University.

“We wanted to make something that made AR portable so that people could use anywhere without any bulky headsets. We also wanted people to be able to interact with the virtual world in a natural way using their hands,” said Jeff Huang, assistant professor of computer science at Brown.

The idea for Portal-ble’s “hands-on” interaction grew out of some frustration with AR apps like Pokemon Go.

AR apps use smartphones to place virtual objects (like Pokemon characters) into real-world scenes, but interacting with those objects requires users to swipe on the screen.

The software makes use of a small infrared sensor mounted on the back of a phone.

The sensor tracks the position of people’s hands in relation to virtual objects, enabling users to pick objects up, turn them, stack them or drop them.

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AR apps use smartphones to place virtual objects (like Pokemon characters) into real-world scenes, but interacting with those objects requires users to swipe on the screen. Pixabay

It also lets people use their hands to virtually “paint” onto real-world backdrops.

Huang and his students plan to continue working with Portal-ble — expanding its object library, refining interactions and developing new activities.

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The team is set to present the work later this month at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST 2019) in New Orleans. (IANS)

Next Story

What is the Potential of Virtual Reality in the Workplace?

Virtual reality has the potential to help people empathize with each other, as you can use VR headsets and software to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’

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VR refers to the use of hardware equipped with sensors, allowing users to interact with computer-generated simulations of 3D environments.

Virtual reality is making a splash in all kinds of industries around the world. It has been estimated that the VR market will be worth more than $30 billion by 2020. Online giants such as Facebook and Google, phone companies like Apple and Samsung, publications like the New York Times, and airlines around the world have all invested in VR hardware and software

VR refers to the use of hardware equipped with sensors, allowing users to interact with computer-generated simulations of 3D environments. While the term ‘VR’ might make you think of video games, and movies, it is clear that this new technology will have a big impact on customer service, engagement, and the workplace in general.

How will VR affect the workplace, and what is its potential for customer service?

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Virtual reality is making a splash in all kinds of industries around the world.
  1. Customer Service costs will be cheaper than ever

Every business calculates its ‘cost to serve’ (CTS), one of the most important metrics for determining profitability. The lower the CTS, the better the overall margin, and the higher the profits. VR software can be used to serve customers more efficiently and effectively by allowing customers to assess and troubleshoot their own issues themselves.

For instance, VR could enable a customer to troubleshoot their own computer issues, or could help them to assemble a piece of furniture or follow a recipe. A customer could follow the instructions in real time, allowing them to follow along without the confusion of paper instructions. 

In addition, VR could also be used to create training programs for employees, lowering the cost of education and training for companies. VR scenarios could be crafted that correspond to specific customer service needs, helping agents to become more adept at dealing with any issues that arise.  

  1. You’ll be able to ‘walk in your customers’ shoes’

Virtual reality has the potential to help people empathize with each other, as you can use VR headsets and software to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’. VR programs are being developed to help employees understand and appreciate their customers’ pain points, needs, and customer service requirements. 

VR software can be used to create experiences that simulate all aspects of the consumer process in order to help employees understand what clients and consumers are looking for. As studies seem to show that VR can actually make people more empathetic towards one another, this strategy could go a long way in preparing employees to deal with your customers’ needs.

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While the term ‘VR’ might make you think of video games, and movies, it is clear that this new technology will have a big impact on customer service, engagement, and the workplace in general.
  1. More and more people will work remotely

Online capacities and new technology have made it possible for more Americans to work from home, coffee shops, and even while trotting the globe. Over the past 5 years alone, the number of Americans who have mainly worked remotely has increased by 4%. The same study shows that nearly 45% report working remotely at least part of the time. 

VR makes working remotely easier than it has ever been in the past. Employees are able to connect with one another online, speak in chat rooms, and experience new ideas. 

  1. Marketers will have more options at their disposal

Social media platforms have changed the way that advertisers market their products and services to potential clients and consumers. Digital ads are now a massive industry, and VR is now set to disrupt and change the methods used to reach out to people online. 

New technologies will allow companies to create branded VR content that will entice and excite consumers, boosting engagement and propelling sales. 

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Virtual reality has the potential to help people empathize with each other, as you can use VR headsets and software to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’.
  1. New products will hit the market faster due to virtual prototyping 

Many international companies, such as Boeing and Raytheon, are now using virtual reality to develop and create new products faster than ever. VR is allowing customers to sample and engage with products and services, testing them out before they hit the broader market. The focus groups of the past will be replaced with hyper-accurate product testing and market predictions, fuelled by the power of VR.

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Will VR change your workplace?

No matter which industry you work in, the answer to the question ‘will VR change your workplace?’ is a resounding ‘yes’. VR has been changing video games and films for years. How will it change the way you work with your customers?