On April 19th the WIRe Atlanta chapter set a new record for attendance at their Spring meeting.  Kat McCluskey, Senior Art Director at Razorfish’s Emerging Experiences group headlined the event, providing an overview of Virtual and Augmented Reality and touching on the Internet of Thing (IoT).  All of these technologies are poised to impact the Marketing Research industry, and this event gave attendees the opportunity to explore how they might improve our insight development in the future.

As many in the audience learned, both Virtual and Augmented Reality already exist, and tech industry giants as well as Silicon Valley start-ups are making these experiences more accessible. While there are multiple nuances between them, the simple difference between Virtual and Augmented Realty is the extent to which the user is able to interact with the world around them during the experience.  In Virtual Reality, a user’s senses are enveloped in another world so that the user cannot see what is around them, only what is projected into the equipment.  Augmented Reality has a different purpose – to enhance a user’s real world surroundings by projecting additional information on that world (picture holographs virtually sitting on your table).

Attendees at the WIRe event put their thinking caps on to identify some Marketing Research uses for these technologies from testing Virtual Reality home floorplans to walking Augmented Reality grocery shelves.  While attendees were impressed by the capabilities, many still do not see these technologies having a real impact in the near future.

On the other hand, the Internet of Things, which refers to the growing list of products that connects us to the internet and each other, is already here.   From Nest to Amazon Echo to WeMo electrical outlets, the Internet of Things is exponentially expanding the number of connected devices on the planet.  Along with that IoT is raising a number of privacy questions and expanding our uses for cell phones and tablets.  This, in turn, will impact how we connect with the research participants of the future.

As if the interactive presentation was not enough, WIRe attendees were also given the opportunity to test the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality platform.  While participants were only stacking blocks in a virtual space, the experience highlights the types of activities which can be developed for this new technology.  WIRe attendees now have an expanded understanding of the future of these technologies and a competitive advantage over those who are not yet educated on their development.

Women in Research (WIRe) was founded in 2007 as a means of connecting and supporting women in the market research community. WIRe facilitates education, entrepreneurship and other career development goals through informal networking events around the globe, an educational webinar series, our “Office Hours” online Q&A series and an award winning one-to-one mentoring program.