New Categories of Intangibles: Virtual and Augmented Reality

A necessary and prudent step with respect to engaging any new technology and assessing its potential market, user relevance, and attractivity…and, acquiring operational clarity, in this case with virtual and augmented reality, ala VR and AR.

To help make the distinctions between VR and AR more-clear…one could consider the differences between scuba diving vs. going to the aquarium. In conditions of VR, one can implicitly, ‘swim with and among sharks’ through computer generations. But with AR, one can experience a shark pop out of a business card.

So yes, VR is a more personally-individually immersive experience…whereas AR, on the other hand, presents more freedoms (options, opportunities) for the user. Doing so, of course, translates as more possibilities which marketers can effectively exploit. That’s because AR does not need, nor must it originate only via a head mounted display, i.e., goggles to achieve the experience. Too, from an AR marketing perspective, it (AR) becomes an additional and even more intensely immersive (perhaps potent) mode to further penetrate the home’s of presumably targeted audiences.

  • VR transfers (transposes, rearranges) a user’s (us, the human’s) presence to another (computer simulated) place or environment via visors or goggles which essentially ‘block out’ our presence in the specific area or space we initially entered and/or presumed we occupied. More specifically, VR goggles, again, through computer generation, transfer (simulate) our presence elsewhere.

Too, those yet to experience VR, i.e…putting on VR goggles which cover one’s eyes, and essentially leaves one visionless to their (current) presence in a specific time-space. The VR goggles create (serve as) a computer simulated expansion of human senses, i.e., sight, hear, touch, smell, and taste, coupled with specifically designed experiences integrated with that VR..

One’s immersion into VR – virtual reality…can-actually be quite dramatic, physiologically and psychologically. In fact, some who engage VR, report feelings – effects of personal movement, e.g., ascending a staircase, or riding a rollercoaster, all, within a virtual (computer simulated) environment which has been created specific to achieving these and other sensory perceptions.

Put another way, VR is more immersive, AR provides more freedom for the user…and therefore, more possibilities for technology marketers, because it does not need to be a head-mounted display. Pepsi Max, for example, utilized AR rather ingeniously in their #LiveForNow campaign, i.e., the monster mirror trick.

There is another technology challenge on the horizon…which is, creating and integrating high resolution and life-like objects.

Conventional video games, circa 1980, had very low polygon counts…a polygon is the most basic form of 3D, i.e., the more polygons that make up an image, the higher the 3D resolution. So, the polygon count must increase significantly. Today, of course, games have polygon counts well into the billions, and increasing. Thus ‘trailers’ for new (video) games today, may appear more like major motion picture films than mere games. All of which, bodes well of course for the future of incorporating – exploiting VR and AR experiences for product-service marketing in particular.

With respect to VR and AR…neither is particularly challenging to operationalize for generations including and following the millennials adept at gaming.  Previous generations who may be less likely to have engaged – experienced either VR or AR, operational clarity may be in order as preludes to envisioning – conceptualizing its relevance, usefulness, and ultimately exhibit the willingness to invest time and resources to pursue its application.

AR and VR share some technological capabilities…which are, altering the human perception of presence the environment which they are (presently) in. That said, a key difference between AR (augmented) and VR (virtual) reality lie in how-where we perceive (interpret) our presence to be via computer generated simulations.

For those yet to experience today’s substantially more sophisticated manifestations of VR…many, no doubt, have experienced its reasonably close (early version) cousin that initially appeared in circa 1980’s video games. These (computer generated, simulation) video games were frequently found in video arcades, often in shopping malls, largely due to their size and space requirements. Today, of course, VR-technology has been substantially compressed (miniaturized) with infinite capabilities and potential applications.

On the other hand, one’s immersion into AR – augmented reality…does not move, i.e., transfer, transpose, or rearrange a user elsewhere, e.g. into other simulated environments may not be quite so physiological – psychologically dramatic.  In part, that’s because AR builds upon one’s current reality (time, place, activity, etc.) but, adds something specific to it ala augmentation.

More specifically, AR augments one’s current state and/or presence…which typically occurs with the use of clear (translucent) visors.  Samsung, among other technology firms, is nearly ready to introduce its monitor-less AR glasses, which would connect to smart phones or PCs via WIFI and replace (what appears on) the screen on those devices.

  • Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, says he is excited about AR because, unlike VR which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world and hopefully allows improvements on what’s occurring in the present. That, Cook says has resonance!

Numerous technology firms are building applications for product demos using HoloLens (AR)…of course, in 2016, the world experienced AR taking center stage, in a manner of speaking, in the form of Pokemon Go, becoming a very lucrative sensation as the first major example of AR finding mass market acceptance.

VR and AR have made significant leaps in 2018…in part because various sectors of startups are experimenting with – finding ways to introduce human sense of smell and touch to expand – enhance one’s sensory experiences. The technology company Immersion, for example, has introduced TouchSense Force, using haptic feedback to bring player’s hands into VR worlds.

And, beyond the obvious media and entertainment applications for AR – VR technology…design and engineering firms, ala Solidworks, is demonstrating their commitment to immersive design with AR and VR related partnerships with numerous other tech companies.

Adopting – Integrating AR and VR…

Both AR and VR are, to be sure gaining acceptance as viable, relevant, and lucrative marketing options…and are more relevant particularly as they become consumer ready – ‘plug and play’ devices. Admittedly, some tech marketers still describe AR and VR…

  • as little more than highly specialized and technology embedded toys applicable to relatively a small number of enthusiasts.

The often cited (primary) reason for this, is…both AR and VR remain variously hindered by technologists’ ability to render 3D environments in real-time.  AR less so, of course, because that environment already exists, and AR technology merely adds to it.

The more life-like these animated – immersive realities become…the more likely mainstream society, ala targeted audiences, will recognize and embrace their use and role, and otherwise resonate as brand positive experiences and new modes of reaching targeted audiences.

Michael D. Moberly  January 19, 2018  Intangible Asset Strategist St. Louis [email protected] The ‘Business Intangible Asset Blog’ where attention span really matters!

Readers are invited to explore other papers, blog posts, and books I have published at

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