Integrating Data Exchange Between Business Applications and AR/VR Applications
The number of enterprises creating business applications using augmented and virtual reality is growing exponentially, with estimates putting the market at $300 billion by 2024. Due to the success of AR and VR entertainment applications, enterprising businesses are realizing the power which AR and VR applications have in engaging their audiences. Businesses are looking to build augmented and virtual reality applications in areas related to training, therapy, and support. However, once the AR or VR application is created, businesses find themselves asking “How do I integrate my AR/VR applications to the rest of my business processes?”. The answer lies in the cohesion between your virtual environment and the cloud. This blog will discuss the AR/VR development process in general as well as the benefits of using Azure and Unity in combination as your development platform.
What You Need to Integrate AR/VR to Business Applications
In its simplest form, any fully functional application consists of two components: a frontend display to capture or display information and a backend to manage that information. For AR and VR applications, developers will most likely build the frontend using a gaming platform due to its ease of use in getting intended results. The backend process can be cloud-based or built in a local environment. The challenge is getting the two components to seamlessly interact with one another.
Integrating business and AR and VR applications requires two areas of functionality – the communication of data between the frontend and the backend and the ability to control the AR and VR application from the backend application. The best approach in application integration is to create dynamic architectures – applications that can pass parameters back and forth to control the application functionality or to send/retrieve the data. Unfortunately, in AR and VR applications, some of the data which is transferred can be graphically complex. This requires a lot of processing power and high bandwidth. Therefore, we have found that using the power of the Cloud is essential in achieving the best results.
Using the Power of Cloud to Exchange Data
The beauty of using Cloud is its flexibility – processing power can easily scale up or down depending on the amount of information your application needs. This is important when integrating with AR/VR applications, because if using untethered headsets – the processing power of the application is limited to the processing power of the headset’s mobile processor. By extending GPU power to the Cloud, the application can maximize its potential – sometimes gaining 500% more processing power.
As an example, SphereGen has built applications that create large, complex 3D models which are then viewed in the HoloLens or Oculus. Using Azure Cloud and a tool called Azure Remote Rendering (ARR), we can stream graphical data to the HoloLens allowing the headset to display high–resolution, multi–million polygon models. Without the power of Azure, that process is not possible.
In addition to graphical data, application data must be transferred between AR/VR applications and business processes. Applications can retrieve data stored in the Cloud and send it to AR/VR applications. Or on the flip side, data collected in AR/VR applications can be pushed to the Cloud. With this communication happening between the Headset and the Cloud, data is being accessed and processed, dynamically, in real-time, which is important for a variety of use cases.
Using Responsive Architecture to Control AR/VR Applications
Interactive business to AR/VR application processes may require some level of control, whereby, what is displayed in a headset needs to be controlled dynamically by another application. This dynamic interaction is enabled by utilizing a responsive architecture – typically done when designing the application.
For example, in a therapy application, what a patient experiences when wearing a headset may need to be adjusted by a clinician, based on the therapy results which are being measured. Those adjustments need to be made in real–time with as little interruption to the therapy session as possible. This requires a process that can adjust patient experiences dynamically as changes are applied by the clinician via a separate application. The result is that the patient in the headset can immediately experience adjustments as they are made and each therapy session is tailored based upon patient response and clinician decisions.
Getting the Job Done
AR/VR development is a complex process and differs from the development process used in more traditional business applications. As a result, software development companies typically specialize in one area of development. So, when companies want to integrate their AR/VR applications with web-based processes, they need to hire two companies to get the work done. This makes for difficult project management. Multiple platforms require different skill sets meaning increased resource assignment and larger time commitments, all while incurring higher costs. Additionally, managing multiple development teams makes it difficult for companies to accurately estimate the scope of work needed to create the final product. Therefore, if you can find one company that can fulfill both frontend and backend development, project work should flow more efficiently.
SphereGen specializes in both Azure and Unity-based development processes to create fully integrated, scalable, and dynamic software solutions for our business partners. By understanding both the visual and analytical aspects of Augmented Reality development, our applications can easily transfer, edit, and interact with data in the Cloud in a user-friendly way. We have found that utilizing this approach has resulted in applications that are easier to use and directly impact the day-to-day working environment of our clients.