One of the hallmarks of augmented reality's coming of age is that the technology is starting to find a home in business categories that are less obvious compared to typical AR enterprise use cases.
The latest example comes from Qualcomm and Accenture, who have collaborated on a solution that uses AR and VR to modernize the rough and tumble world of event planning.
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The application is called XR Event Planner and it enables event planners to use Nreal Light smartglasses (which are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor) and mobile devices to visualize event spaces with realistic lighting effects and fabric textures in order to design room layouts in AR.
The solution borrows a few techniques pioneered by AR apps for interior designers.
Using the mobile app as an orchestrator, the system also enables on-site and remote teams to collaborate on event designs in real-time. Using the Snapdragon-powered standalone HTC Vive Focus Plus VR headset, event planners can also provide clients with a virtual walkthrough of the event space layout.
"The Accenture XR practice is continuously exploring ways to reimagine how people and organizations alike interact with the world around them through the latest immersive technologies," said Raffaella Camera, global head of innovation & market strategy for Accenture Extended Reality, in a statement. "Our XR Event Planner is a prime example of this principle in action, with the potential to fundamentally transform how the event planning industry operates."
Through its immersive design and remote collaboration features, XR Event Planner could potentially help event planners cut down on the cost and time spent traveling to scout event spaces, resulting in swifter sales cycles and reduced booking costs. With the event planning industry generating $330 billion in revenue in the US alone, Accenture also has a large market to sell on the concept.
"Collaborating with Accenture and Qualcomm Technologies on the XR Event Planner pilot has demonstrated the power of augmented and virtual reality technologies in hotels," said Jeff Edwards, the senior vice president of global hotel and owner solutions at InterContinental Hotels Group, who ran a pilot program of the solution. "This tool equips hotels, such as InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, to close event sales even faster and increase productivity, while simultaneously helping clients experience event spaces without having to travel, in a new, dynamic way that brings the event to life during the planning process."
Currently one of the leading destinations for mobile processors, augmented reality hardware is the next frontier for Qualcomm, particularly its XR1 and XR2 chipset. Therefore, the company benefits from convincing various industries to push the envelope with AR technology, such as the AR shopping proof of concept it developed with Mastercard for the now-defunct ODG smartglasses.
"We believe that XR has the potential to revolutionize the enterprise and we're proud to work with Accenture and InterContinental Hotels Group to bring the benefits of immersive computing to the event planning industry by harnessing the power of our Qualcomm Snapdragon platform," said Brian Vogelsang, the senior director of product management at Qualcomm.
Based on this latest move, it seems the Nreal Light has become Qualcomm's go-to device for pushing mid-tier AR to enterprise clients. Qualcomm previously tapped the Nreal Light for a prototype enterprise app built in partnership with Deutsche Telekom. The pair has also joined forces with 6D.ai to supply AR cloud capabilities for apps.
In addition to its relationship with Qualcomm, Nreal has brokered some partnerships with LG Uplus in South Korea and China Unicom ahead of the launch of its consumer edition of Nreal Light later this year.
Despite Nreal's mainstream entertainment aspirations, this new tool is at least one indicator that the company may find life cozier settling down in the enterprise realm, just as Microsoft has.