In this interview, Gavin shares his experience as an augmented and virtual reality executive with more than twenty-five years of success in building growth-oriented marketing and technology companies.
Tell me what Kaon Interactive does and why it’s relevant to our readers.
Finn: Readers of TechSling are interested in how digital technology is changing the workplace, the consumer landscape, and the world around us. Kaon Interactive has pioneered the transformation of sales and marketing engagement through innovations in interactive technologies and applications for global B2B brands. Just this year, in an effort to help those brands convey complex product and solution information more effectively, we extended our platform to allow for all applications to be experienced in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). AR is the ability to insert digital objects into a camera view of the real world (think Pokémon Go), and VR is the exact opposite concept: immersing real people inside a completely digital environment. AR and VR are technologies that help companies amplify engagement with their customers.
The launch of iOS 11 is a big deal for your company. Why?
Finn: Up until September, our augmented reality solution, Kaon AR®, was only available via Google Tango on Tango-enabled smartphones, such as the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and ASUS ZenFone AR. Upon the launch Apple’s AR-enabled iOS 11 in September, the floodgates opened to allow Kaon AR to be used on Apple devices, allowing these solutions to become more universally accessible. Now 500+ million people can access these augmented reality applications on their smartphones and tablets, allowing more companies to showcase and communicate the value differentiation of their complex products.
What are some other examples of companies using AR and VR?
Finn: From the consumer side, gaming is the most popular example of AR – everyone is familiar with the Pokémon Go craze, which was one of the first consumer examples of augmented reality that gained mass appeal.
While the corporate or enterprise side has lagged in broad adoption, the applications of AR in B2B companies are quite compelling. For example, companies are using AR to help field technicians service and repair equipment, by overlaying digital instructions in the camera view of the real equipment. Companies are using VR to train forklift operators, telecommunications engineers, and airline pilots.
Other examples of companies using AR are IKEA and Wayfair. IKEA Place and Wayfair’s mobile shopping app are augmented reality applications that allow customers to see what furniture would look like in their homes before buying.
Kaon is doing for the enterprise what Wayfair and IKEA are doing for furniture. In fact, 50+ live enterprise AR sales and marketing applications from Kaon are already in use, by hundreds of thousands of customers, sales teams and channel partners globally.
How is what Kaon does different from how other companies are using AR and VR?
Finn: In contrast to consumer games and B2B service and support applications, Kaon has led the market in creating use cases for AR and VR in B2B sales and marketing, by creating applications that simplify and explain the complex product and solution stories. Kaon has leveraged its 20-year track record of innovation in interactive technologies and applications to deliver the first truly useful marketing and sales applications that have already helped large corporations solve difficult challenges in their sales cycles. For example, Kaon AR uses fully interactive photorealistic digital 3D product models that companies such as Cisco, IBM, GE, Siemens, HPE, Abbott, and many others have used to “place” their products into their customers’ actual factories, refineries, data centers and laboratories. When a lab director sees how a new blood analyzer will fit into their workspace, and how it integrates within their existing process, they understand more of the complete value proposition in a tangible way. Kaon can easily add AR and VR capabilities to the work it’s already doing for these companies because these capabilities have been added to the Kaon High-Velocity Marketing Platform, which means there don’t have to create separate stand-alone AR or VR applications.
Give me a case study example to help us wrap our head around it. What kind of companies do you work with?
Finn: Recently, a global leader in the manufacturing of power generation and electrical equipment introduced a new product. The product is large and functionally complex. Because the company could not ship the product to every launch event globally, they used the Kaon AR application to show prospects, analysts, and the media not only what the product looks like, but also how it works and what its key value differentiators are. By giving users mobile tablets to interact with, and allowing them to view and then literally “place” the 3D digital product right into their real physical space, the product launch became a huge sensation all over the world. Rather than being “presented to,” each member of the audience could interact with and experience the product and the company reported that it was the most successful launch experience in its 100+ year history.
Kaon VR, on the other hand, recently helped our customer, Dell EMC, show the value of their hyper-converged infrastructure solutions (which resulted from the merger of Dell and EMC corporation) to their customers. This application is transformational because the immersive nature of the customer experience places people inside the virtual data center, allowing them to interact with and understand not just the functionality but also the real-world value propositions of this complex solution. This VR experience has been used at dozens of events worldwide, including at CiscoLive 2017 and many large live events since then.
Where do you see augmented and virtual reality going in the future, especially as it pertains to enterprise?
Finn: For the next couple years, I anticipate most AR and VR applications to remain entertainment-focused among the consumer audience, especially within gaming.
AR and VR in the enterprise will get interesting as the mobile technologies that are emerging now become more robust and production-ready. Compelling experiences that can be delivered on mobile devices at any venue without training or setup will transform these applications from the early adopter segment to many, many enterprise markets. Mobile VR and AR offer an incredible potential to improve the way businesses develop, manufacture, market, sell, support and maintain products. We see AR and VR becoming features of platforms and applications, rather than separate, stand-alone apps.
What excites you most about this industry?
Finn: What’s most exciting about this industry is that its uncharted territory. Like so many inventions before that have changed our lives, so too will new technologies like augmented and virtual reality change things in ways that we can’t even imagine now.