Fans of VR technology like to point out that VR has the potential to impact most aspects of our lives. Athletic wear company adidas is showing us exactly how this is the case.
The company has already used XR technology before, to bring virtual models of new products to customers. In this way, the technology directly impacts consumers. But, what about behind the scenes?
VR development company The Wild and VIVE recently worked with adidas to revolutionize their workflow process through VR technology. This isn’t technology that consumers directly interact with, but it directly impacts the products that consumers have access to.
Marketing might seem like a fairly obvious use of VR technology. Perhaps a less obvious solution is workflow optimization.
“Workflow” refers to the series of steps that a business uses to accomplish a goal. For adidas, a very simplified version of a workflow for a new product might look like this:
Product idea > product design > marketing narrative > product creation > advertisement > release.
That workflow may look simple, but consider that every step is done by a different department, and there is a lot of room for miscommunication. That is more true when you consider that the people involved are in the same place very often. That’s where the project started.
“Portions of this workstream were making siloed decisions despite a clear mandate to work in collaboration and, as a result, we were running into complications,” Brooks Clemens of adidas said in a recent talk at the International Retail Design Conference. “We decided to kick off a case study […] to explore the possibility of using [a] 3D collaboration platform.”
How VR Can Help
The people running various teams that handle aspects of workflow meet periodically through the process. These meetings look and feel rather like a university lecture. One person stands at a podium while everyone else sits in chairs and takes notes.
Working with The Wild, adidas created a new sort of collaborative space. Team members, using VR technology, enter the digital collaborative space. There, they are able to interact with each other and with 3D models and other content. This content is available through a “digital library” of new and stored material.
Working with these models through VR technology helps the creative process and helps to prevent other issues. These include errors that can come from moving between 2D ideas and 3D models, 2D designs and 3D products.
“We were trying to go from 3D spatial to 2D translations back to another re-translation to 3D spatial and what resulted was not the most efficient outcome in the ideal amount of time and budget spent,” said Clemens. “We started to change the process entirely. Instead of having a designer or someone else on the product development side present the information to the next team in the go-to-market process […] we decided to reinvision the process as a single space for collaboration.”
The process is similar to the advent of collaborative word processing like through Google Docs or OneDrive. Multiple people are able to create, store, and share projects in progress so that everyone is on the same page.
This is a fairly recent project, so consumers probably have yet to see improvement in designs and products from adidas. It is safe to think that we may be about to see a much better adidas represented in stores soon. And, it’s all thanks to another innovative use of VR technology.