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The Pokémon Go phenomenon utilized Augmented Reality (AR) and brought some of the biggest retail chains to the table to participate - ones that you probably would have never associated with the Pokémon brand. But the element of Augmented Reality and the technology behind it fascinated businesses as yet another touchpoint to market to consumers. AR superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, in most cases via a mobile device, thus providing a composite view.
Within the same spectrum of technology, Virtual Reality (VR) is based on the diametrically opposite concept. It immerses real people into a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly very real or physical way. Historically known in the world of gaming, AR and VR are now being seen as valuable tools for businesses to enhance interaction with customers and their own employees.
Content and engagement is always the goal toward generating revenue or keeping employee morale high. Businesses can use both AR and VR for many applications and programs, including training, conferencing, and remote work. Coupled with Augmented Reality, the Virtual Reality market could hit $150 billion dollars in revenue in 2020, with $30 billion belonging to VR alone. More than 12 million VR headsets will be sold in 2017 and is expected to reach $407.51 million dollars by 2018.
VR Has Come a Long Way
It may surprise some younger businesses, but Virtual Reality has been around for over twenty-five years. Getting its start in 1991, VR looked to be the future of technology, but in those days, the vehicle just wasn’t up to par for the challenge yet. Processing power, screen resolutions, and more all lacked the power, and bandwidth, we’re used to today. So the idea of VR seemed to disappear until a Kickstarter campaign brought about the Oculus Rift, which was soon purchased by Facebook, making VR a viable business topic today.
These new advances open up new worlds, so to speak – VR can bring us closer to visiting places that were once outside of our reach. A good example of this is the use of VR in education. Many schools are looking at VR to help provide students the ability to travel throughout the universe, immersing them in new learning environments to further their education engagement.
Buffalo Elementary in Davenport, Iowa is one such school who has recently become the first school in the country to incorporate VR into the Next Generation Standards Science Curriculum.
But it’s not just schools that benefit from VR. Businesses can also use VR/AR for a variety of reasons that evoke intellectual engagement and emotional connections.
With so many opportunities to use VR & AR, businesses should also take stock of how these technologies work within their own networks and the heavy need for bandwidth to power them.
Why Bandwidth is So Important
In 2016, telecom equipment manufacturing company Arris predicted that more and more consumers and businesses will want and need even more bandwidth to run applications like this. The CTO estimated that a virtual reality video game, running at 720p might require 50 Mbps, with a 4K VR game going up to 500 Mbps.
This might seem like a lot of broadband speed, but considering that even at a low resolution, a 360 degree experience would still need at least 25 Mbps for streaming and HD resolutions going upwards of 80-100 Mbps.
What most experts believe is that as VR and AR continue to grab headlines and interest, the need for faster bandwidth is paramount. Luckily, if your business is considering using VR, then Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions is the next step your business should take. Speed is an incredibly important component for VR and fiber-optic delivery is the latest in broadband technology capable of providing some of the fastest speeds within the industry.
Mediacom Business’ fiber “pipe” is highly secure and scalable – the symmetrical data throughput, both down-stream and up-stream, is there to support innovative technologies like this and allows businesses to integrate this usage within everyday operations.
VR and AR are still growing for both business and consumers; it’s a technology that can and will create a tremendous amount of opportunities in many industries – from education to finance - the capabilities are wide open. Will your business be taking advantage of Virtual or Augmented Reality and do you have the broadband path to get there?
CRMs, video collaboration and streaming, cloud computing and analytic programs – these are some of the daily applications businesses are using to meet the demands of the connected economy. As technology continues to open new doors to innovation, these programs get more sophisticated and require more bandwidth. And the need to be able to do more and do it faster is a priority for all businesses. Accessing and moving data in a matter of seconds is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity. Faster bandwidth determines how a business can consume these applications. Without high-capacity broadband a business can not reap the benefits the technology was intended for.
Your business’ broadband delivery method matters. Antiquated technologies will leave you waiting for files to upload/download and there is a definite cap on the speed you can achieve. Mediacom Business built a broadband infrastructure that delivers 1 Gigabit speeds to businesses of all sizes. With reliable, fast business internet, bandwidth is never a bottleneck to productivity.
Nielsen's “Law of Internet Bandwidth” states that a high-end users' connection speed grows by 50% per year. This "observation" has held true for over 30 years and continues to drive innovation and investment for business. Well-connected companies should begin to assume that this "law" will hold true for them and that HD video conferencing, virtual reality tools, cloud computing and data capabilities will increase their bandwidth needs 50% per year.
With a movement towards remote employees, businesses need to support the infrastructure with fast internet, so collaboration can flourish. Technology can make us feel like we are in the room with each other and build a highly relational experience in the same manner (if not better!) as if we were face-to-face. Connectivity is instrumental in promoting that type of work environment. High-capacity bandwidth promotes workplace collaboration. Colleagues can work for hours a day on the same piece of data while in different states. Many believe working virtually in this manner can increase the amount of work produced by employees in the same building.
The Need for Speed
Bandwidth speed is a crucial part of your network. When your internet speeds are slow, you lose more than just load time:
Reduced productivity – a study by Sandisk from 2013 showed users lost a full working week every year because of slow internet connections. When time is taken out of an employee’s day waiting for files to upload or download, that’s time they are unable to be productive. This reduction can lead to decreased morale and worse, disengagement.
Lost profits – when your employees aren’t productive, your business loses revenue for that period of time. But this can also happen on the customer facing side as well – if your business offers services to customers that rely on your internet connection, your customer’s perception of your ability will not fare well if that connection keeps them from reaching a destination.
Unreachable cloud – many businesses have turned to use cloud services and resources to better optimize their organizations; in fact, 87% of businesses use the cloud. CRMs, backup and recovery services, collaboration sites, POS systems, and more are now accessible via the cloud. However, with a slow connection, trying to connect to these services can be difficult.
Consider your cloud environment – employees view, download, or upload files for collaboration, review, edits, etc. The cloud can be a great avenue to foster innovation within a business, making it easier to retrieve, save, and backup files. But the path to the cloud requires speed to access data, especially when multiple users are working within this method.
We unpack some of the applications and programs that can cause bottlenecks on the network in our Does Your Business Have Enough Bandwidth? blog series.
What can your business do with Gigabit level internet speeds?
We already know slow internet speed is a game stopper for businesses. But what type of boost does your business need? Is 1 Gigabit capacity too much speed? Not at all.
Small businesses benefit from faster and more reliable internet speeds. Instead of long wait times, users can easily retrieve any file or video needed in a matter of seconds. Mediacom Business is helping businesses usher in a new revolution of data speeds, the type of speeds that help businesses in rural America lead the growing digital world. Our new business internet menu of 60, 100, 300 Mbps and 1 Gigabit speeds provides a better direction for your business. As a technology company we know we need to evolve as well because the business world moves fast. When a business has higher levels of broadband, there are less restrictions on the applications or online programs they can venture into.
Found a program that can better push productivity or manage your accounts receivable? Those require bandwidth and when businesses have adequate speed levels it doesn’t stifle your normal every day operations of hosting your website e-commerce or employees accessing their email. No one likes hiccups or buffering – and when these interruptions happen its time to revisit your bandwidth speed.
Businesses are changing to meet the demands of employees and customers; Mediacom Business has made sure we are doing the same and increasing speed levels across the board so that the businesses in our areas can not only meet the demand today but will be well situated for those that tomorrow bring.