VR & AI not perfect at the moment – analyst freaks out

New research from Forrester claims new technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality will not move beyond mediocrity unless more attention is given to customer experience.

Only last month, the world was treated to a horde of demonstrations and other-worldly use cases for emerging technologies such as AI and VR, though little thought has been given to the practical implementation. That’s the state of play according to Forrester’s Jennifer Wise, who believes shortcomings in these technologies are all around customer experience.

From Wise’s perspective, VR has become more immersive, IoT more realistic, robots are smarter and conversational interfaces are more every-day, though all still fall short when it comes to delivering customer experience and the wow factor. Progress has been solid, though there is a sense customer experience is falling at the wayside, being viewed as something which can be built on at the end, as opposed to built in from the beginning.

“The way VR experiences are rendered doesn’t match well-understood human expectations of sensory interactions,” said Wise in her report.

“For example, you would expect to press buttons using your fingers, not a controller. You would expect the look of the rendered controller to match the look of the virtual world you’re viewing. You would expect to be able to tell what actions you can take (its affordances, in UX parlance). You would expect to hear audio cues about where to look. But VR experiences deliver these things spottily at best, and sometimes not at all.”

VR doesn’t match basic human expectations. IoT and AI haven’t earned trust. Voice systems make huge progress but barely scrape the surface. Vendors obsess about what new technologies can do instead of what people want. It’s all very negative.

Wise might complain the technology is not meeting expectations, but perhaps a bit of perspective is needed. The HTC Vive was launched April 2016. Amazon Alexa was first released November 2014. Self-driving cars are still a long-way off, and drones are a pipedream. We’re still in the early days.

When looking at what to blame for a lack of (or perceived lack of) progress, one place which might be worth a look is the marketing campaigns which surround these technologies. Vendors have a habit of over-promising on a technology, which leads to extraordinary expectations and sometimes disappointment in the result.

At the same time, some analysts have been known to made ‘interesting’ estimates on the growth of an industry or the penetration of a technology, which builds the hype and the pressure on vendors to deliver. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy which allows other analysts to criticize the fact the technology is not delivering or not enough focus is being put on certain areas.

So yes, customer experience is not living up to the potential for the moment, but that creates an opportunity as far as Wise is concerned. For those companies who use customer experience as the foundation on which to build these technologies, there could be a clear advantage to be had.

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