Innovative Uses of Virtual and Augmented Reality

October 16, 2017 | | View Comments

Explore 6 companies that are striding into the future of Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality, allowing for new opportunities in education, consumer relations, and safety.

Virtual Reality is rapidly expanding far beyond video games. Companies have implemented virtual and augmented reality into impactful areas of daily life that inspire others toward a more innovative and cohesive future for all.  We have found this incredible technology being used in a variety of capacities, including a tool for remote and mobile participation, client immersion technology for architects, and even an iconic artist popping up in Snapchat. Check out our favorite uses of VR in Portland and beyond!

Wieden + Kennedy Lodge

Photo courtesy of Nike

Founded by American advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, W+K Lodge unveiled the Nike Makers’ Experience last month at the Nike By You Studio in New York. After slipping on the Nike Presto X, a blank silhouette shoe, users can choose which text, pattern, size, and color they want on their shoes via voice commands. Less than an hour later custom-sneaker fanatics can walk out with the finished product on their feet! Use of the Makers’ Experience currently requires an invitation, but the idea suggests exciting directions for the future of retail shopping.

Shovels + Whiskey

Photo courtesy of UC Riverside

Portland-based VR studio Shovels + Whiskey has shown us how VR can be used as a tool for engaging education. In a partnership with UC Riverside’s Associate Professor of History Juliette Levy, they created an experimental, interactive platform was meant to enhance the experience of students studying the 1959 Che Guevara speech, “Social Ideals of the Rebel Army.” The user was thrust into the middle of a Cuban jungle, surrounded by the infamous speech, along with historical and cultural context. Although experimental, the project projects the future of efficient and effective distance learning.

SERA Architects

Photo courtesy of SERA Architects

Architecture poses another intriguing way VR can be used in practical application. SERA Architects has built a way to visualize and experience blueprints and building plans in a more comprehensive way. The technology, built in game development program Unity, has the advantage of running on personal computers, smartphones, and various mobile devices. The program is adventurous as designers can take a VR tour through their work before building has even begun. This wiggle room makes it easy for architects to make changes on the spot and avoid the potential of oversights that might be missed until the end of construction, ensuring a more satisfied client for the entirety of the working relationship.


Photo courtesy of Atheer

Remote participation is not limited to the education realm – there are many in the workforce seeking an immersive professional experience while mobile. Atheer AiR Glasses offer an innovative solution to the complication of distance experienced by students and workers alike, where the wearer can send first-person point of view video to a remote expert and receive instruction in real time. The AiR Glasses include an outward facing camera, microphone, speaker and heads up display (HUD). Atheer is an example of future technology within tangible grasp that could provide a solution to the complications of distance interactivity. We look forward to seeing how this and similar technology is applied to remedy and effect manufacturing, engineering, or even medical problems and practices we see today.

Make + Think + Code

Photo courtesy of PNCA

Make+Think+Code at the Pacific Northwest College of Art is an emerging technologies lab that hosts workshops aimed to expose and educate anyone in the community with an interest in the STEAM (STEM + Art & Design) field. Students gain access to and training on the operations of VR and a plethora of cutting-edge technology, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering stations and motion capture kits. The Make+Think+Code studio puts emphasis on inclusion, equity and collaboration with a belief that diversity of disciplines and expertise empowers tomorrow’s engineers and designers.

Snapchat x Jeff Koons

Photo courtesy of Snapchat

Popular social platform Snapchat is starting their Snapchat Art Initiative in collaboration with iconic artist Jeff Koons. Now in ten well-known international locations, including Champ de Mars, Central Park, and Regent’s Park, Snapchat users can see and take photos of various virtual Jeff Koons installations through the app. Although the initiative is in its infancy, applications are open for artists to submit their work to become digital installations as well, bringing exciting implications and meanings to the definition of public installation.

For more inspirational work on the world of VR, join us for Design Museum Mornings: VR For The People with Shelley Midthun on October 20th!