Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) - Mixed Reality (MR)
It’s exciting that at this point we still need to define what VR, AR and MR actually are. VR simulates reality in a fully immersive, completely virtual, synthetic experience, while AR layers synthetic, virtual elements with the real world. Mixed Reality (MR) is the crossover between the two and merges real and virtual environments and objects.
Virtual Reality requires hardware
Accessing any of these new realities requires hardware – dedicated devices include: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, Microsoft’s Hololens or Samsung Gear VR. Dedicated devices provide full wraparound vision and audio for true immersive experiences, but modern mobile phones can also be used, particularly to access AR – iOS 11 includes ARKit which enables developers to build iOS AR experiences, while Google provides the same with ARCore.
How is VR / AR being used in real life?
Pokemon Go, which went worldwide at launch in Summer 2016, is a well-known example of an augmented reality app. Gaming is trailblazing the use of AR and VR, but other markets are catching up for both B2C and B2B markets.
Some of the more widely used VR / AR content is related to travel such as Discovery VR and Google Earth VR. Other sectors include shopping and retail with apps from Ikea and Audi that allow you to design your ideal kitchen or to browse a virtual showroom. There are also sports apps such as Sports VR from Fox which allows the user to watch sporting events in virtual reality in their home and movies such as the Netflix VR cinema app on Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Video. These apps allow the user to watch movies in their own private virtual reality cinema in their own home.
B2B examples include the training apps from 360Immersive that places users in a simulated VR medical emergency, or a law enforcement situation.
How do you test VR / AR / MR content?
The growing demand and growing availability of playback hardware is exciting news for content developers who are looking to expand into this market. However, before any company invests time and money into VR / AR / MR, they should be clear on the pitfalls as well as advantages. Any new technology adds complexities and costs for development and production. On the testing side, where web, desktop and traditional mobile have many tools and techniques for testing, there are few established tools that can facilitate VR testing.
Test considerations include:
- Hardware – are you building for the devices and hardware people actually have now, or for the latest and newest generation?
- Platforms – are you building for one specific device or platform or do you need cross-platform compatibility?
- Multi-sensory testing – people tend to prioritise visual process over aural, but in VR immersive experiences, issues affecting any controlled sense can disrupt the experience.
- Device interactions – particularly for AR apps on mobile phones, how does the app cope with device interruptions such as alerts and calls?
- User perception tests - the testers must ensure they explore the entire game (or interact with the experience), since without the full experience it’s hard to accurately test for real-life issues such as motion-sickness.
VR / AR / MR will not go away. An example is Google Glass – glasses with an AR enhancement. Although Google Glass was ahead of its time in the social setting in 2015, it has relaunched in industry as the Glass Enterprise Edition in 2017 – a good example of a solution looking for a problem.
Companies that are focusing on delivering high quality VR / AR / MR content need to ensure their testing techniques keep up with the development. Test Partners have many years of experience testing different kinds of applications on all sorts of desktop and mobile devices. We’ve combined this knowledge, along with the most experienced testers in the industry, and new techniques pioneered for VR and AR hardware and software to provide a fully comprehensive VR / AR / MR software testing service.
To discuss your VR, AR or MR testing requirements, please contact us.