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What Can Industry Learn from Parks and Entertainment Use of Wearable Tech?

We know wearables, AR, and VR aren’t going away. These technologies will fundamentally change how we live and work, but the full extent to which they will do so is unknown—the applications could be limitless. Most companies are still trying to figure out what emerging technologies will mean for their business. At this point, there isn’t widespread use in any one industry so enterprises have to 1) think outside the box, and 2) look outside the box. They need to think about how to apply brand new technologies with brand new capabilities to existing processes; and also look to other industries and verticals for examples from which to distill applications, lessons and best practices.

Take AGCO: In addition to employing Google Glass on the assembly line, the agricultural equipment manufacturer has incorporated Glass into its factory tours. This isn’t your typical remote guidance use case; it’s an application that arguably borrows from the parks and entertainment industry. What follows is a lesson in looking outside the box: Eight use cases of wearable technology in amusement and entertainment that have implications for industrial enterprises.

Theatre in Paris

In December 2015, Theatre in Paris, an English-speaking box office in Paris, launched an Augmented Reality solution for non-French-speaking, theatre-loving visitors to the city. The company planned to introduce AR glasses that displayed simultaneous translations to the user at several shows as a way of making French theatre and other live entertainment more accessible to tourists. The glasses, designed by Optinvent, could translate into any language and even assist the hearing-impaired, and were much less distracting than surtitles (translations shown above the stage or screen.)

Takeaway: Who are your customers? Your employees? Can you categorize them by differing behaviors and needs (ex. language or skill level) and address those differences (even out the playing field) with a wearable device or personalized AR/VR experience? Could wearable tech provide a leg-up somehow for one group of employees or make your product accessible to a previously overlooked group of potential customers?

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Dave and Buster’s

In June 2016, the entertainment and dining chain rolled out wearable RFID-enabled wristbands for loyal customers and regulars to purchase instead of Power Cards. D&B’s issues over 10 million Power Cards a year, a high percentage of which are ultimately discarded or lost. The bands would have the same function – storing tickets and activating games – but the idea is that people are more likely to hold onto a piece of wearable technology. In the future, the wristbands could also collect customer data and provide additional functionalities.

Takeaway: Do your employees or customers use objects or merchandise that can be easily lost to gain access to secure locations, store information or activate a service? Might it be beneficial to replace the item with wearable tech one would be less likely to misplace and that could potentially track valuable data? Is there a task or service employees or customers opt into (ex. remembering to clock in or log information, playing a game) and could you incentivize them by making a wearable device key to the experience?

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Six Flags and SeaWorld

Last year, both amusement park giants announced plans to introduce Virtual Reality roller coasters on which riders could wear VR headsets for a more exhilarating, immersive experience.

SeaWorld Orlando was retrofitting its oldest roller coaster the Kraken with the technology, which would take those riders who chose to wear the headsets on a virtual deep-sea mission; while Six Flags was adding VR to nine of its most popular rides. Passengers above the age of 12 would be able to wear Samsung Gear headsets on those rides for new, extra sensory, “heart-pumping” experiences in sync with each ride’s sensors, gyros and accelerometers.

SeaWorld, which has been struggling with declining attendance, sees VR as a way to compete with larger theme parks like Disney and Universal. Rather than build a ride from scratch, SeaWorld went the more cost efficient route of upgrading an old ride to create a new experience. For Six Flags, VR is the next logical step in delivering the most thrilling and innovative rides on which the corporation’s reputation is built. There’s also something to be said for giving consumers the opportunity to try out new technology.

Takeaway: Theme parks are not all that dissimilar from brick-and-mortar retail stores—both are struggling to increase attendance and boost engagement as consumer expectations change and convenience becomes a substitute for experience. How can you lure customers into your business, persuade them to physically go to a shop or park, and engage with or buy your product, whether that be material goods or experiences? What can you give them that they cannot get at home or online? What part of your business could use an AR upgrade or a VR makeover? What does your brand stand for, and how might wearable tech strengthen that or send a new message? Could you use AR/VR to stand out in your industry, to distinguish yourself from the competition? Sometimes the cool factor is the disruptor.

Universal

Among the amenities at Universal’s new Volcano Bay water park is an exclusive wearable device developed by TapuTapu—a smart (waterproof) wristband with which guests can do such things as virtually wait in line for a ride and access “tap-to-play” experiences around the park for more fun. In addition, the wearable can be used to make purchases and access locker rentals, so guests don’t have to carry a locker key, cash or credit cards while enjoying the water attractions.

Takeaway: Put yourself in the shoes of one of your customers or employees. What is it like for a customer to experience your business? What is a day on the job like? Are there any hassles or annoyances for your customers/employees that could be removed by introducing wearable technology? Take Universal: Standing in long lines and needing to hold onto one’s wallet on wet and bumpy rides took away from guests’ satisfaction. Consider also that many enterprises are replacing paper manuals and tablets with smart glasses to free up employees’ hands, because having to hold a tablet while doing a task that requires two hands is a hassle (and inefficient.) In both cases, a wearable device improves the logistics of the experience or task.

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NASA

NASA teamed up with Microsoft and Oculus to create two experiences aimed at giving the public a look inside the space agency’s research and operations. The first, “Destination: Mars,” uses Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, and the second is a Virtual Reality tour of the nearly finished Space Launch System (SLS.)

“Destination: Mars” opened Summer 2016 at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The interactive HoloLens exhibit, with a holographic Buzz Aldrin as tour guide, is an adaptation of OnSight, a Mixed Reality solution developed by Microsoft and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help scientists plan the Curiosity Mars rover’s operations.

At CES 2016, NASA provided a virtual experience of the SLS, which, as the world’s largest and most powerful rocket, will usher in a new era of exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit (like Mars.) Wearing the Oculus Rift, consumers could virtually travel the 325-foot elevator to the Orion capsule atop the rocket.

With these initiatives, NASA is trying to draw attention to and create excitement around its ambitious projects for sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. The MR/VR experiences give users a look at the space agency’s important work, and could help justify its research and spending to which all tax payers contribute.

Takeaways: How transparent is your brand or business? Do you currently engage with the public in any capacity, beyond your company website? Do you offer tours of your operations open to the public or attend trade shows? Should you do more to engage with the public? Could you bolster your company’s reputation or image by showing your customers, backers, stockholders, etc. the work you are doing through a curated AR/VR experience?

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StubHub and Carnival

In March 2016, eBay subsidiary StubHub announced that Final Four ticket buyers as well as those looking to see the San Francisco Giants play at AT&T Park would be able to preview their seat options in Virtual Reality. The immersive, 3D experience would work on StubHub’s iOS and Android apps on either a smartphone/tablet or VR headset like Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR.

With this foray into VR, StubHub is solving a real problem for customers—ticket buyers often struggle to determine where to sit and whether pricier seats are really worth it. Parent company eBay sees VR helping to bridge the trust gap for high-priced, emotionally-driven objects like cars, antiques, paintings and fashion.

Carnival is employing VR in a similar fashion, partnering with Samsung and AT&T to allow consumers to virtually experience what it’s like to travel onboard the world’s largest cruise line. Carnival’s Samsung Gear VR demo was initially available at over 100 AT&T locations nationwide, with plans to expand to over 1,000 stores.

Takeaways: As you might use AR/VR to give the public, your customers or other audience a look behind the scenes of your business, you could also use the technology to allow your customers to experience your product or service before committing to buying. Do you sell experiences (like a vacation) or products that are key to experiences (ex. concert tickets, a car?) How do customers preview or shop for your product? What holds them back from purchasing? Could you use AR/VR to give potential customers better knowledge of your product, to help them make more confident purchasing decisions?

 

About EWTS Fall 2017:

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations. 

 

 

photo credit: Simon Blackley In a world of his own via photopin (license)

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