Recent Apple news grabs for attention in automotive, virtual reality fields

By On3 Marketing In Sensors, User Experience (UX), Wearables February 18, 2015

From the look of it, Apple wants to be a central figure in the mobile lives of its users. It all started with the iPhone, a device that exceeded expectations in many ways – namely as an enterprise tool. The iPad followed a similar path to acceptance. Soon, Apple Watches are going to be everywhere. It seems like Apple has every aspect of the mobile market cornered, but recent patents approved for the company show that their plans are just beginning.

According to ITProPortal contributor Sead Fadilpašić, Apple will soon make a jump into virtual reality with a headset meant to hold the iPhone in such a way that it becomes a VR display. Given that this patent was filed back in 2008 and only just recently approved, it would appear that these plans have been in the works for quite some time. But VR isn’t the only thing Apple is focusing its attention on – Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang stated on ZDNet that a smart car is the next ambitious move being made by Cupertino’s resident tech giant.

Businesses have already learned that Apple products have significant potential as workplace assets. The functionality of smartphones and tablets has been well-documented, and wearables have already been discussed as the next potential game-changer. But what about VR and the connected car? How will these developments alter the course of enterprise?

Apple’s newest patents and information leaks signify the beginning of even more office disruption. Virtual reality and smart​ cars, while not at all common now, will one day play a huge role for businesses. The kind of improved user experiences that will undoubtedly accompany these evolving technologies will be able to enhance life for customers and employees alike. Besides both areas receiving investment and attention from Apple, there is one other common theme between VR and connected vehicles – they will both require custom software solutions in order to be of true value to organizations.

Virtual reality, augmented reality and the trouble with headsets
Wearables have generated a considerable amount of conversation. This is primarily thanks to the promise of hands-free interfaces that can be used to provide assistance in ways that smartphones and tablets cannot. For many people, the natural conclusion for wearables is the headset. The opinion over whether or not this is a good thing, however, is hotly debated.

Google was one of the first companies to push for some form of smartglasses. Google Glass was embraced by early-adopters and tech enthusiasts, but a generally poor reception led the company to shelve the project until further notice. It is widely accepted that the failing here was in trying to replicate the usefulness of the smartphone in a hands-free device. Creating that kind of power while trying to make Glass as unobtrusive as possible ultimately proved to be too much. According to InformationWeek contributor Thomas Claburn, Sony’s recent release of the SmartEyeglass Developer Edition is likely fated for a similar failure.

While it’s not likely that Google Glass will be playing a role in the enterprise anytime soon, there is still a lot to be said about virtual and augmented reality. In the case of Apple’s option, it’s likely that VR will play a prominent role in things like customer engagement. The release of the device as an add-on to the iPhone rather than a siloed machine – like the Oculus Rift – also increases the chances of popularity and adoption.

You know that immersive experience that every consumer seems to be craving? Imagine enabling it through the use of VR. Creating interactive worlds for people to explore and connect with a brand will be powerful in terms of attracting and retaining business. Similar things can be said about employees. Enterprise communications have been going increasingly mobile, and the idea of pairing VR with company telecom assets could take video conferencing to an entirely new level.

Project Titan and the connected car
It seems as though people are making great strides in trying to connect as many things to the Internet as possible these days. One of the most interesting areas of discussion as of late is the idea of the smart​ car, a vehicle that runs apps and can connect to the Internet. Clearly, Apple is interested in this concept. While the recent patent for Apple Electric Car Inc. that’s making the news turned out to be a coincidence, it started enough of a conversation to dredge up some sparse details about the actual Apple’s automotive intentions – including the company’s rumored pursuit of electric car company Tesla Motors, according to U.S. News contributor Tom Risen.

According to Wang, this speaks volumes about how Apple views its place in the world – not to mention its future ambitions.

“The focus on continuity of experience is at the heart and soul of Apple,” Wang wrote. “This is the foundation behind Health Kit, Home Kit, Watch Kit, and Car Play. Apple is focused on delivering its ubiquitous experience from walking outside, checking your wrist, to hopping in the car, making a payment, to the in-home experience. The car puts Apple’s OS in the proverbial driver’s seat.”

While the attention is there, it could be several years before an Apple car appears on the road – if at all. But the fact that the project is in motion tells a lot about the potential for an electric smart car. Industries like shipping and transportation stand to gain a significant amount of functionality from this sort of technology, even if the “self-driving car” never comes into fruition. Being able to treat a vehicle as a device has an untold number of applications. From integrating GPS features with the car itself for improved positioning to the control of media via a smart dashboard, there is potential here.

The importance of programs
At the end of the day, the device is not the center of the equation. Machines serve as the catalysts for change, certainly, but they are not going to be of much use without the right programs in place. No matter if it’s a phone, headset or car, smart devices and wearables must be supported by custom software development.

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