A (Virtual) Reality Check for the Connected Home

• • ftth, industry trends, Smart Home

Your customers are always looking for new ways to enhance their home life with technology. Once they have high-speed broadband and a media distribution enclosure, they’ll want to know what’s coming next for their connected home. On the near horizon is a whole new experience: a Virtual or Augmented Reality.

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated representation that can include sound and a sense of movement along with a 3-dimensional image. Today, VR can be experienced with lenses like the Oculus Rift, HoloLens or Google Daydream.

Augmented Reality (AR) involves layering computer generated content over the real world. The image in AR is transparent so that it doesn’t alter your customers’ reality; it augments it. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game.

While VR has been used primarily in entertainment so far, there is vast potential for VR in the home. VR could become a method of interior decoration in which inhabitants can change the colours, patterns and sounds in their home. They could add natural features like streams, or they could add virtual animals.

VR could have practical roles in the connected house as well. Homeowners can interact with household items while they are away or interact with the outside world – including their workplace – from the comfort of their kitchen.

VR and AR have huge potential as teaching tools, which means more of your customers could learn from home. For example, they could learn woodworking by interacting with virtual pros and examining techniques and samples from every angle. They could also virtually attend a class anywhere in the world without leaving their living room.

Entertainment beyond gaming

VR and AR are most widely used in gaming, but they can also enhance your customer’s enjoyment of sports, music and even eating.

According to Sean Gregory of time.com, “VR sports viewing might be the next big thing.” Already, the NBA broadcasts one VR game each week. Subscribers get to enjoy the excitement of court-side seats from the comfort of their own home.

A VR music video called Chocolate with music by Tyler Hurd premiered at Sundance this year. The video was produced by Viacom Next, and the company will soon release a music-based VR experience called Melody of Dust that Rolling Stone is calling “a new art form.”

Soon your customers may be able to transform their homes into an Italian villa on pasta night or into an intimate bistro for date night. Chefs are already exploring how to enhance the eating experience with technology. British chef Heston Blumenthal created a seafood dish that was served with an iPod that played ocean sounds as they ate!

VR rooms

Your customers may be interested in setting up a VR room. A VR room consists of some form of VR viewing headset along with sensors and cameras. Your customers can have a VR room custom built or they can set up a do-it-yourself VR room.

Intel is developing VR lenses that allow users to scan their living room to incorporate their own furniture into to a game. They call this merged reality, and it’s a clever way to keep gamers from tripping over their coffee table.

VR can even assist with the delivery of smart home features. Andrew Lucas, a British luxury design company not only makes VR rooms they also use Oculus Rift VR goggles to help their customers design their home theaters and smart homes. The company scans the client’s home and lets them experience it with the addition of home theater and smart home features before they buy.

It’s impossible to know where these technologies will fit into your customer’s lives ten years from now, but it’s safe to say that VR and AR are going to be an exciting part of your customers’ realities.