The Aspiring AR/VR Developer

Thanks to the advanced camera systems and even LiDARs nowadays in our smartphones Augmented reality is subtly blending into everyday consumer life; you can actually see how a new Ikea couch or Apple Homepod will look in your living room before you decide and buy one. Companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) are building an entirely new world using Virtual Reality termed Metaverse where you can create virtual office spaces to have real-time meetings with your colleagues, play a game of basketball and even attend concerts. 

AR augments the real-world scene by adding layers on top of your real world, whereas VR creates completely immersive virtual environments that need VR goggles or headsets to experience it. Both of these technologies started as the next chapter of the gaming industry but quickly found their way into other applications like Fashion, Interior Designing, e-commerce, Architecture and Metaverse. You no longer have to visit a physical store to experience how a new jacket or pair of glasses will look on you or a theme park in Florida to enjoy a roller-coaster ride. 

Download the Aspiring AR/VR Developer infographic here!


The Top 5 Reasons Enterprises Should Adopt Virtual Reality

As technology advances and becomes mainstream, more enterprises are now incorporating virtual reality in their project planning after years of development. When talking about VR technology, we often think they are associated with entertainment and video games. However, the continuous popularity of VR makes it beneficial across all industries. Experts said we could expect the VR market to grow from $6.3 billion in 2021 to $84 billion by 2028.

At first, many are skeptical about how VR will impact the business industry. But the arrival of tech giants like Google, Facebook, HTC, and Samsung in the VR scene demonstrated and guaranteed that this technology could be the future. Enterprises now see that adopting VR technology is a helpful way to create innovative and sustainable workplaces. This article will tackle the top 5 reasons enterprises should adopt virtual reality.

Why Should Enterprises Adopt Virtual Reality?

Enterprises see a lot of possibilities in VR, including the ability to revolutionise work processes, provide customers with world-class experiences, train staff members, and more. A person may perceive and engage with an immersive virtual environment thanks to VR technology. To further understand, here’s a deep-dive:

Immersive Training in Virtual Worlds

Training your employees using VR technology is an excellent way to let them gain experiences safely. The ability of virtual reality to create immersive real-life scenarios allows employers to be risky when it comes to giving training exercises, as there will be no repercussions in the process. When something goes wrong, all you have to do is to push the reset button. 

The 3D simulation of VR technology helps employees to be more engaged and participate actively in training. Startups are prone to cyber threats. That’s why navigating data loss prevention through simulations is the best way to understand security tips for startups without any potential risks.

They are already applying this in the medical field, where surgeons do complex operations on children. Even Walmart does simulation training to prepare employees for Black Friday. Regardless of industry, VR technology offers an engaging, cost-effective platform for training employees.

Effective Prototyping

Developing products can be costly, time-consuming, and risky as it involves a lot of processes and conceptualization without the assurance that they will be successful. Using VR technology will change all of that. 

Virtual reality allows enterprises to utilize these immersive real-life scenarios to visualize and design their products. It prevents wasting your time and money by providing a set of approaches and tools you can use to explore ideas and test the product with less resource usage as you are working on an experimental model. Using VR technology can help avoid complications as you can easily modify and redesign your products whenever you detect problems.

Improved HR  Practices

VR’s seamless, universal connectivity will fundamentally alter how we manage human resources. With access to workers worldwide, hiring procedures will change to ensure employers choose only the best candidates. Prospective candidates can virtually shadow their possible roles as part of the interview process to understand their daily duties. Additionally, one can adopt VR to a range of interactive HR workshops.

Using VR technology can make the recruitment process easy. Large and small-scale companies can utilise this by creating remote offices to interview applicants, hear their responses, and observe their body language.

Redefined Marketing Strategies

By implementing the “try before you buy” idea, businesses may alter advertising and enhance customer engagement. VR services can improve the shopping experience of many and potentially increase the number of visitors to e-commerce sites. With VR, customers can visually “try on” things to see if they match their needs. There is no more buying the incorrect size or style. And when you are ready to make the purchase, you’ll be able to do it virtually.

Volvo has already executed this idea by as offers a VR test drive on your phone. Lacoste has already followed the lead with their AR mobile app, where customers can try shoes virtually. 
Moreover, VR in your marketing strategy can give you an advantage over your competitors, providing efficiency that helps you stay ahead of the competition.

Time-Efficient and Cost-Effective

Time is money, and you may save both with virtual reality services. You can more effectively create and test your products using VR for prototyping, reducing the need for post-production testing. You can save money on corporate travel expenses and promote employee safety by holding meetings virtually.

Bottom Line

There are boundless possibilities in using VR technology for your enterprise. Given the fact that top industries consider virtual reality as part of their operations, which enables its rapid growth across all industries. Despite being a new concept for many, it is safe to say that VR technology is the future of innovative business solutions. 

Virtual reality technology introduces new ways to advance corporate objectives as it develops. Now is the time for your company to establish itself as a pioneer in using this technology, as it will sooner or later gain widespread acceptance among the populace. Those left behind will find it challenging to catch up. But if your company joins in right away, it can quickly position itself ahead of the curve.


Game On! AR vs VR

Here at /Data we offer certainty to those that are speculating about software developers: who they are, what they are choosing to do with at work and with their hobby time, and how they are doing it.  We consider ourselves the analysts of the developer economy and often say that we help the world to understand developers…and developers to understand their world.  ARVR


“Google Cardboard 3d, 360 degree video viewer” by mr.racy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Two of the areas that we are often asked about by big businesses with skin in the game are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Part of my job is to brief top tier organisations on what the developer audience is focussed upon so the companies can make the best decisions. I don’t speculate — I’m not brave enough for that.  Instead, like every analyst at the company, I use our data to find trends and outliers in this emerging sector.

How do we get the data? We ask the people at the coal face, the developers. We do this twice a year through one of the largest and broadest surveys in the developer calendar. We have a set of questions about AR/VR which we update regularly to find out how the latest frameworks and hardware are faring, and which programming languages are most popular. We can tie the data back to the types of apps that developers are creating, whether they work professionally or as hobbyists, and where they are based, among other things. We write reports after analysing the data, which you can find here. The AR/VR reports are in the “Emerging” category.

In the rest of this blog post, I’m going to share a few key facts that we gathered in a recent wave of our survey (Q2 2018). We currently have another survey running and would love to include your opinions; if you share them with us, there’s the chance to win some awesome prizes. Interested? Take the survey. 

ARVR development is immature

OK, that probably came out wrong! AR/VR development is still not a mature area in that it’s hardly established in the same way as desktop or web development. We generally use the more polite term “nascent” to describe an area where most of the developers working in it are hobbyists, though often professionals in other sectors, or students. In nascent areas, we find most developers are simply trying out ideas to find out more about the basics of the technology and work out where to go with it. 

ARVR development is increasing in popularity, with over 20% of our survey respondents saying they had worked on such a project in the past 12 months. Given our estimates of the total worldwide developer population, that gives a global population of AR/VR developers of over 5M.

We see a high number of young, inexperienced developers in this area, which is another sign of a sector that hasn’t yet settled down sufficiently for businesses to build a stable ecosystem of professional developers within it. It’s a sign of churn, where developers try the technology and move on. Most AR/VR apps are developed within the games category and, where they are not, their developers are still uncertain of their audience. Among AR/VR developers, almost 2 out of 3 are not so much bothered about making revenue from their efforts, but are simply interested in gaining experience. 

Virtual reality

Hardware moves rapidly in this sector, and we find ourselves updating our question set for each survey as acquisitions and closures affect the vendor marketplace.

When it comes to VR, developers are clearly keen on sexy dedicated hardware such as Oculus. But our data reveals that the same number of VR developers work with the cheaper, smartphone-based option Google Cardboard. The hardware created by a range of third party device manufacturers, incorporating the Windows 10 Mixed Reality platform (which can also be used for VR) is also highly popular with VR developers. 

ARVR Graph


Augmented Reality

AR is a very different beast to VR. It’s well-suited for a smartphone platform, most famously made popular by Pokémon Go. Huge investments by Apple and Google are paying off. They are keen to get you developing on their platforms because of the massive potential within the app stores (again, see Pokémon Go for an example).

ARCore on Android and ARKit on iOS are the platforms of choice for AR development by some margin. The most popular wearable for AR is Microsoft HoloLens, as Magic Leap had yet to be launched at the time of the survey. It will be interesting to see how things have changed now that device is out of the closet. So, if you’re working on this newest of hardware, tell us about it in the survey!

AR is the simple, more accessible end of the spectrum for developers. The spectrum crosses from more sophisticated mixed reality up to full-blown virtual reality. Developers are finding that AR is a good place to start, particularly during this period where underlying technology and hardware undergoes rapid evolution and pricing levels for consumers start to wobble. Starting with AR, developers can learn how to blend virtual elements ever more seamlessly into the real world, and take their experience later into the convergence zone as virtual reality becomes a more realistic proposition for users and developers alike. It’s the gateway for many, and we are seeing more growth in AR than VR for this reason.


What about working cross platform?

Fragmentation is real, and being able to deploy across a range of hardware is always attractive. If you’re a game developer, and even if you are not, Unity and Unreal provide sophisticated cross platform development and tools that include ARVR. They do come with a steep learning curve so we find them mostly popular with those already initiated (e.g. game devs). Other platforms such as Lens Studio, Spark AR and Sumerian are empowering AR developers, and we want to find out how popular they are becoming in the developer community. 

To get this kind of useful information, and more, we need you in the survey this time around!  We want to know what languages you are using, the hardware, the platforms, and the apps you are creating. Has the new Oculus Quest has piqued your interest and restarted the heart of VR development? Or is AR and mixed reality where it’s at? Why not take the chance to tell us? Help us tell the teams behind these products what you are deciding, so they can do their best to support you. 

Have your say. Take the survey. 

Business Platforms

Virtual reality: Where did it all go wrong?

In this article, I’m going to talk about how I perceive the mainstream consumer audience to have rejected virtual reality, and suggest that its child, augmented reality, may be the Slope of Enlightenment that convinces us to buy in. While these are my views alone, towards the end of the piece, I’ve dug out some data from software developers around the world who are working with AR and VR. Even if you don’t care about my views, you may find what they have to say interesting. And, if you’d like to express your own thoughts, I’ve included a link to a survey that’s open right now, which will help key players in the industry to  draw their own conclusions.

Virtual reality: Tomorrow’s world, today

I worked in the smartphone industry before it came of age. Our mission was “a smartphone in every pocket” at a time when simple feature phones like the Motorola RAZR were the must-have communications device. Within a few years of our early projects, the competitor, Apple, launched the iPhone. The rest is history. The App Store opened its doors, the stars aligned, the technology dream was realised and smartphones went on to rule the world.

I grew up in a time of change. We had a BBC microcomputer before I was ten years old. As a teenager, I sashayed along to the sounds of the eighties on a tape Walkman, and later mobile CD players and minidiscs. Then Napster, now Spotify. Change. The cadence of technological evolution was a rapid heartbeat, sounded out by the Internet, mobile phones and a maturing software development industry, which I joined enthusiastically.

Maybe I just got used to an unrealistic pace of change? But whatever happened to virtual reality (VR)? Its heartbeat seems to have flatlined. Nothing much has changed in the years that have passed since the “year of VR” (pick your year, we’ve had a few of them), which turned out to be nothing much of the sort. When I look at my mobile phone of a few years ago, or my website developed in 2004, I think how clunky and quaint they look compared to the sleek form factor and execution possible today. But when I look at the VR headsets of yesteryear and today and compare what they deliver? Not so much.

Take a look at this slideshow of legacy VR hardware. Sure, we’ve come some way since the Sensorama, but the Sega VR of 1993 wasn’t significantly more dorky than today’s HTC Vive Cosmos, was it?

Does anybody really want to strap a heavy, nerdy headset on that makes you suffer motion sickness after a few minutes use, tethers you to a PC, dulls your senses to the real world outside the headset and causes you to trip over your furniture?

Sure, expensive and shiny, next generation VR devices, are coming. But much of the hardware available is unchanged from when it came to the stores two or more years ago, which means hard-core early adopter audiences aren’t shelling out again.  While availability of more cost-accessible hardware for casual users has increased, e.g. the Oculus Go, the handsets are still expensive enough to give mainstream consumers pause, and typically compromise on aspects of quality that mean the VR experience is somewhat flawed.

Convince people that you’ll change their lives

In the consumer world, expectations for VR were raised early and sadly led to disappointment as it became clear that the ambitions went far beyond what was possible given the technology available. Overpromised, VR lost the attention of mainstream audiences, as it simply could not deliver. In part, this was down to problems with the hardware, such as cumbersome headsets, inadequate processors, poor displays and weak audio. Then there’s the secondary reason: there is no “must-have” killer app that convinces sufficient people that you’ll change their lives.

The two issues go hand in hand (the ‘chicken and egg’ situation) since if technology is inadequate, the content creators see no justification for investing heavily in VR. In turn, this means insufficient buyers and revenue to justify the investment in improving the technology. (It’s worth pointing out that secondary uses for VR, such as in industry, education, healthcare, have a very different uptake/content model, and as such, I’m considering just the mainstream here).

And, as such, entertainment content is the key to unlocking adoption by persuading consumers that VR devices are a must-have item. Like 3D TV, VR has thus far failed to deliver a sufficiently convincing experience that sends people rushing to shops to buy the hardware, despite its costs and the limitations involved.

What’s more, VR content isn’t coming along as fast it used to. Hollywood used it for marketing, e.g. to promote films such as 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and TV shows including Game of Thrones. But this has dropped back as consumer uptake and gratification was found to be negligible.

Venture funding for consumer VR software companies may drop by more than half this year, to $265 million from $576 million a year ago, SuperData says. And this isn’t surprising. According to the SiliconANGLE. VR headset sales have dropped nearly 34% since Q2 2017. Even committed hardware manufacturers are showing signs of taking their foot off the gas. Samsung, which was one of the first to market with its Gear VR mobile headset, didn’t say anything about VR in its major announcements at CES this year.

Is AR the way out of the trough of despair?

Experts predict that new kids on the block, Augmented Reality (AR) on smartphones and Mixed Reality (MR) headsets, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens. will pick up the audience that VR failed to serve. In terms of the Gartner Hype Cycle, AR and MR — the children of VR — look to serve as the Slope of Enlightenment.

AR can be delivered by the hardware already in your pocket. It doesn’t need the level of resolution or processor power demanded by VR. AR is also far less cumbersome than VR and can be used on the go since it doesn’t require total immersion in the experience. The software brings in a virtual element without losing the real world.  

Certainly, analysts report adoption of augmented reality and mixed reality to be on the up, with earnings expected to come from mobile AR apps, particularly games. Google and Apple have strongly embraced this market with ARCore and ARKit, enabling developers to access AR services on more than 500 million devices in the wild today. Both Apple and Google envisage third-party apps and services that use AR as valuable additions to their app stores. Successful apps add billions to the top line (Apple was expected to make $3 billion revenue over 2 years from in-app purchases within the best known AR title to date, Pokémon Go) and high-profile AR apps also strengthen the ecosystems of both companies, boosting other revenue streams.

The smart money is now shifting to companies working on AR and MR. Apple have a rumoured research project to build a headset for delivery next year. Investment in companies working on MR is expected to jump by nearly 50 percent this year, according to SuperData, with sales of MR headsets expected to ramp up significantly and surpass earnings of VR headsets within the next two years.

The above is purely my opinion, based on observations of the tech industry over a number of years and a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to inflated expectations. It’s uninformed by experience at the coalface of development however. So, what do software developers working with AR and VR, have to say?

Software developers working in VR and AR told us…

Here at SlashData we run regular surveys of software developers around the world to uncover valuable insights from those working in mobile, desktop, IoT, cloud, web, game, AR/VR, data science and machine learning.

In our Developer Economics 14th edition report, which is based on a large-scale online developer survey that ran over a period of eight weeks between November and December 2017, we reached over 21,700 respondents in 169 countries. We studied the data returned from developers working in AR/VR and found the following:

  • 25% of professional game developers say they are targeting AR and/or VR. This figure falls slightly to 19% across the entire corpus of developers surveyed.
  • Dedicated VR hardware, such as Oculus Rift, is attractive to games developers (61% report using it), but across all developers working on VR projects, we see a much lower uptake (33%), reflecting its early adopter status in fields other than games.
  • Across all developers working on VR projects, 32% are targeting smartphone hardware using Google’s Cardboard, and 19% are using Daydream View, built into Android Nougat and beyond, reflecting that developers, and consumers, are still experimenting with the technology on their existing hardware.
  • A similar picture emerges for AR, with Android and iOS taking the lead in most popular AR platforms across all developers targeting AR.
  • Of the dedicated AR hardware available, Microsoft HoloLens leads the pack, with Google Glass at Work and MagicLeap trailing behind when the survey ran in late 2017.

We are currently running another survey and we would value your input. If you’re a software developer working in the field of AR or VR, or considering doing so, please consider answering the questions. If you’re not a developer but are working in the AR/VR field, pass the link on to your developer friends and colleagues.

Every survey completed has a chance to win Oculus Rift +Touch Virtual Reality System to test your creations (or simply play around), Samsung S9 PLus$200 towards the software subscription of your choice, or other prizes from the prize pool worth $12,000!

Plus, if you refer other developers to take the survey, you may win up to $1,000 in cash. Just don’t forget to sign up before you take the survey, so that we know you want to be included in the prize draw!

What do you say, are you in?

Platforms Tools

A New Dimension for UI: Using Unity for Virtual Reality

virtual reality unity ui

The advent of virtual reality solutions, ranging from gaming to trainings and simulations, is raising new questions about previously standard industry practices. User interfaces (UI), in particular, require a complete re-thinking of function, layout, and implementation. Traditionally, user interfaces have been divided into diegetic (part of the game world), non-diegetic (separate from the game world), spatial and meta components. Most successful games use a combination of them to provide a balanced experience. In this, we break down each category, its advantages/disadvantages for virtual reality, and how to implement them in Unity. Meta UI components are rare in general and largely disregarded in VR programming. For that reason, they are not considered in this analysis.

Non-Diegetic UI

Historically, non-diegetic user interfaces have been the most common in the gaming industry. The key defining feature of them is that the components of the UI exist on a completely different plane than the actual 3D game space. Imagine here a heads-up display (HUD) as they are likely the most ubiquitous examples of non-diegetic user interfaces. A health bar, for example, does not exist within the 3D space that the game supposes nor can characters in-game interact with it. It is outside both the game’s narrative and space.


This modality offers the user a very clear display of relevant information and allows for quick navigation. The fear, however, is that the distinct separation of the game world from the structures that manipulate it results in a lack of immersion.

Use in Virtual Reality With Unity

For virtual reality, non-diegetic user interfaces can be very difficult to successfully implement. The largest obstacle is the fact that a HUD a la traditional gaming can be too close to the user’s face, resulting in highly uncomfortable eye strain. In Unity, the typical way to design a non-diegetic HUD is through the Screen Space – Overlay or Screen Space – Camera functions. It is unsupported, however, in Unity VR due to discomfort-related concerns. A developer can, however, fix a model to the user’s vector of vision. This, in effect, serves the purpose of a HUD. Once again, though, it can prove awkward. It would be like walking all day with a phone directly in front of you. In order to focus on it, you would need to re-focus your view from the rest of the world. Additionally, its presence when focusing on other tasks would be distracting. In short, stay away from strictly non-diegetic UIs when developing solutions for virtual reality.

Diegetic UI

This model of user interface holistically embeds all of the information typically represented in a HUD into the game’s 3D space. An example of this in a game would be if instead of a mini-map in the corner of the screen, the avatar/user would pull out and look at a map that exists within in the game world. Thus, the user interface is part of the game’s narrative and exists within the game space. From a player perspective, the Deadspace video game franchise is generally regarded as having implemented one of the best diegetic UIs to date.


The advantage of this style is the belief that it increases the realism of the gaming experience and thereby results in deeper immersion. The drawback, however, is it requires developers to seek ingenious ways of representing typical information, such as health, items in inventory, etc. These, in turn, must be intuitive and effective, otherwise, they will frustrate the user and result in a loss of immersion.

Use in Virtual Reality With Unity

In many ways, the goal of virtual reality is to provide a level of engagement and immersion that mimics real-life. With this in mind, diegesis seems like the logical, and even necessary, method of crafting user interfaces. The logic seems to go, if real-life is without menus and speech bubbles shouldn’t virtual real-life be so too? In lieu of this, there are several ways to create more diegetic experiences using Unity in new innovative ways. One way is to use the Raycast function to initiate interaction. Let’s imagine, for example, that in an RPG the user wishes to interact with an NPC. Instead of clicking and using a menu, the user could simply stare at them for an appropriate amount of time, which mirrors how we use eye contact in real-life to initiate conversation.

Spatial UI

A spatial UI lies half between traditional diegetic and non-diegetic models by offering elements that exist within the 3D game space but are not part of the game’s narrative. Perhaps the simplest iteration of this would be if you were to select a unit in a real-time strategy. Around the unit would appear some sort of circle or symbol to represent that the unit has been selected. In a first-person shooter, a way-marker for an objective is another example of spatial UI. The way-marker exists in the game space but if you were to live inside your character’s head, you wouldn’t see it.


In many ways, the advantages and disadvantages of spatial UIs mimic those of diegetic models. The key upside is it provides a lot of clarity to the user; all the relevant information for a user can be tagged to the relevant models. This, however, is offset by the fear that the presence of meta-information could break the immersive dimension of the game.

Use in Virtual Reality With Unity

When it comes virtual reality, spatial UI is the simplest and most effective option. When programming with Unity this means selecting World Space as the render mode for the Canvas. This allows components of the UI to be placed anywhere in the game space. In order for the best results and most comfortable experience for the user, set the text at a comfortable distance (3-5 meters) away and make sure it is clear, large, and readable.

In order to reduce clutter on the screen and keep immersion-levels high, it is often advisable not to permanently tag UI information to a model. It can appear unrealistic and unnecessary. Instead, allow notifications and status updates to flow in and out of the game as organically as possible. For example, don’t always have a health bar floating above a character’s head but instead have an aura appear around the character or have a health bar flash in the game space near the character. Unity also allows the implementation of arrows to help direct users if they’re looking in the wrong the direction. The easiest way to add this to a game is GUIArrows and customising which vector should be prioritized can be done with the Show Angle function.

An effective use of spatial user interfaces that is subtle but clear is overwhelmingly the simplest and most effective model. It provides the necessary instruction without — if done tastefully — shattering the user’s level of immersion.


The key consideration, whether choosing to pursue non-diegetic, diegetic or spatial components, is to strike a balance between immersion and usability. The greatest strength of virtual reality is that it’s 360° of 3D space naturally induces a degree of engagement that far surpasses even the most advanced screen-based solutions. The fear for some developers is that immersion could be broken by clunky interfaces that divorce the user from the actual experience. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that many games featuring non-diegetic/spatial features still boast impressive levels of immersion. MMOs that allow highly customizable HUDS immediately come to mind. They may clutter the screen but they also allow the user to feel at home in the experience, which in turn induces immersion.

In short, according to our experience at Program-Ace when designing an interface for virtual reality, pay careful attention to making sure the experience remains intuitive and comfortable while also trying at every moment to submerge components into the game space and game narrative.