New to ALAIRA? Frequently asked questions
If you’re new to the combination of data and XR technologies you’ll probably have a few questions. Here are some common queries about XR and ALAIRA, along with our answers.
ALAIRA at a glance
ALAIRA is a ground-breaking platform that uses XR – augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – to represent business data and open up new ways of working with it. ALAIRA users can see and physically interact with large or complex datasets in a three-dimensional landscape. They can collaborate with others in real-time and use visual and spatial brain modes to develop a deeper understanding of data’s patterns and connections. ALAIRA’s 3D environment also works in AR via smartphone or tablet, making it a truly accessible and portable tool.
Q: Why is 3D data visualization better than 2D?
So many reasons. (Here are 6 of them to start with.)
Essentially, 2D visualizations like charts, reports and dashboards only allow you to see a small part of your data at one time. You can have a summary overview, or you can drill down into a more detailed area. When things reach a certain level of complexity it becomes difficult if not impossible to proceed, and you’re likely to need data expertise to uncover new insights and make meaningful progress.
With a 3D environment, you’re looking at the whole picture and every detail within it, all inside a physical, navigable world that’s automatically intuitive to humans. The 3D format unlocks our spatial abilities and our natural pattern-recognition and allows people with no training or speciality in data science to work effectively. As we like to say, it democratizes your data.
Q: Aren’t VR headsets just for gamers?
Not at all.
Global spending on AR and VR technology is set to increase by 78.5% during 2020 according to IDC, and data is just one of the frontiers the technology is helping to push. The initial buzz around VR and AR might have focused on gaming and entertainment, but XR technologies are now transforming all kinds of industries.
For instance, there’s health and safety training. VR can simulate a hazardous situation for a trainee without putting them in real danger. Rescue services, power plants, heavy industry and military are just a few examples of the sectors who can benefit.
Then there’s the world of healthcare and medicine. AR and VR environments can be used in training, to give students a blood-vessel’s-eye view of the interior of a human body. They can provide information overlays in a surgeon’s field of view to assist with a procedure or help plan a surgical strategy. They also have applications in patient education, psychological therapy, disease awareness and more.
Q: Why should we invest in virtual reality just to be able to work with data in a different way?
There are two parts to this answer: because of the benefits to your people, and because of the benefits to your business performance.
The ALAIRA workspace is accessible anytime, anywhere, to anyone with a compatible device. At a time where unprecedented numbers of people are working remotely, being able to meet and work inside ALAIRA offers a powerful workforce engagement boost. In virtual reality mode using a VR headset, distractions are removed and connection with others is immediate and immersive. You’re offering staff a new dimension of collaborative working that doesn’t depend on co-location.
Then there are the business benefits. ALAIRA dramatically opens up data capabilities within a business, allowing many more people to engage productively with your data and put it to work in meeting business challenges. Making data available to more people helps you move away from the bottlenecks caused by placing growing data demands on small specialist teams. It’s a powerful way to future-proof your company and put data front and center in an integrated, sustainable way.
Q: Do we have to use wired headsets? Aren’t they a trip hazard?
We’re seeing major developments in the sophistication of VR technology, one of which is the arrival of standalone VR on the market. These are headsets that contain all the hardware you need to enter a virtual environment.
These are fast becoming the standard, it’s exciting to see that the technology is moving away from plugging into a computer or console.
Standalone VR means you’re not tethered by a wire, or even restricted to a certain room or building. You can use a standalone headset while working at home, when you’re travelling or almost anywhere you like.
We’re also seeing continual improvements in the comfort and usability of VR headsets. For example, today’s faster frame-rates reduce the feelings of motion sickness that some people using first generation headsets experienced. This feeling comes from old hardware producing virtual scenes that can’t keep up with your eye movement. We’ve tested our environment on those that have had severe sickness in the past, and to their amazement, they came out feeling fine.
Q: Do we have to set aside a room for people to use VR headsets?
No, not unless you want to. In virtual reality, we have infinite space and we can defy the laws of physics. So even when your space is physically limited, your ability to move around rooms filled with data is not.
You can be up on your feet and moving within the data in roomscale mode, or sit at your desk and teleport around the virtual world in stationary mode.
Stationary mode is handy for when you don’t have a lot of space available, such as in a smaller office or working at home. It also means ALAIRA is accessible for people with disabilities or health conditions which make walking difficult.
Looking into the future
Just like the iPhone, VR technology is improving all the time, with higher screen resolutions and features paving the way for better and better experiences. As a result, ALAIRA users can look forward to ever more usable and intuitive ways to participate as the technology evolves.
If you have a question that isn’t covered here, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer it.
Find out how ALAIRA transforms your relationship to data. To request a demo, get in touch.