High Tech Strategies > Early Market Strategy > Target Market Prioritization: augmented reality
augmented reality

Target Market Prioritization: augmented reality

Ships and boats at sea need a variety of information in order to navigate safely. And augmented reality provides an opportunity to dramatically improve the safety of marine navigation.

Augmented reality is an emerging technology that appears to solve all of the persistent problems in marine navigation.

Most maritime accidents are caused by human error. Despite the existence of modern navigation and communications aids such as ship-to-ship radios, radar, GPS, and computerized navigation charts, collisions at sea are still a major cause of maritime disasters. While electronic charting systems represent a vast improvement over manual systems, those systems do not address the primary causes of maritime accidents.

Collisions at sea are more likely to occur in busy ports and crowded shipping lanes, especially near the coast or in narrow straits and inlets. These accidents are often the result of inexperienced personnel on the bridge, navigational errors, malfunctioning or misused radar systems, and poor decision-making by overworked personnel.

Advanced Marine Technology (AMT) developed a new type of binoculars using augmented reality. The binoculars are augmented with a see-through, computer-generated overlay or display of navigation information. The computer-generated display is superimposed on the real world image available to the user. A person looking through these binoculars could be presented with: identifying labels for nearby objects, navigational data and chart information, or recommended direction of travel, all as an overlay on what is seen by the human eye.

Market Adoption Speed

AMT management was presented with the important task of determining the best way to exploit the potential for their AR technology. Management felt there were a number of short and long-term issues to investigate prior to committing additional resources to further development. Key strategic issues included determining both near- and long-term potential applications. And in what order should AMT attempt to penetrate each market? It was also important to understand the adoption characteristics of each market.

This investigation had to identify the market segment with the most near-term interest. However, each segment must be evaluated in terms of their product adoption cycles. AMT wanted to avoid market segments that required significant continuing investment until substantial returns were generated.

An issue related to both speed of adoption and overall potential is that of the relationship certain market segments have with one another. AMT wanted to select markets that produce revenue in the shortest amount of time, and are also linked in a way that allows the company to build upon the successes achieved in each previous segments. Determining the best revenue-producing segments as well as the linkages that exist between segments are both important requirements.

Partnership and Alliance Advantages

Given AMT’s established position in the marine industry, marine applications seemed like a natural first choice. AMT has built a significant level of expertise in the marine industry which was further strengthened by the company’s strategic alliance with Raytheon. These advantages had the potential to accelerate the adoption of augmented reality in the light marine segment.

Unfortunately the marine industry tends to lag behind many other industries in the adoption of new technology. Therefore the marine market was also required to pass the test of overall potential and synergy with other markets and applications.

AMT needed to identify the area of greatest potential customer alignment

Warren Schirtzinger guided AMT through the process of finding the user segment with the highest value proposition. This included the use of examples or analogies that provided a “model” for management decision making. It was discovered that technologies or products already in the marketplace could guide AMT’s choices regarding commercialization.

Warren also conducted qualitative research in both one-on-one and focus group formats in all of the different sub-segments of the marine industry. This included demonstrating augmented reality binoculars to leaders in military, commercial, cargo/container, recreational, government and academic market segments.

The focus of each interview was guided by two of the elements of initial customer alignment; cost-benefit analysis and value proposition identification. From these interviews, AMT executives were able to identify, attract and work with early adopters in the segments with the highest value proposition.

AMT was able to address the present and continuing need for better aids to marine navigation. Based on strategic guidance from Warren Schirtzinger, AMT selected commercial fishing fleets as their initial target market, because of the synergistic match with existing sonar systems.

Handheld augmented reality in standard-size binoculars was the first of its kind in the marine industry. And AMT’s “Enhanced Navigation Glasses” have made a significant contribution to ensuring the safety of life at sea.

The value of augmented reality became so compelling, that AMT was acquired by one of its largest customers in commercial fishing because the competitive advantage provided was massive.