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Amazon and Fidelity Labs Collaborated on a Virtual Reality Financial Agent

Amazon and Fidelity Labs believe that in the future, people may talk to financial advisors in virtual reality to learn about how their stock portfolios are doing.

The two companies debuted on Tuesday a virtual reality demonstration in which Fidelity Labs—the research lab of Fidelity Investments—created a digital financial advisor that people can interact with using a VR headset.

The VR demo is part of a broader pitch for Amazon’s Sumerian VR and augmented reality developer tools that are now available to the general public to create VR and AR apps.

Fidelity Labs created the VR demonstration using the Sumerian tools to learn possible ways the financial giant could realistically use VR if the technology becomes a hit with consumers, explained Fidelity Labs vice president Adam Schouela.

The hope is that if VR technology becomes big, the financial services firm won’t be caught off guard and will have the know-how to create VR apps that resonate with consumers, Schouela said.

In the VR demonstration, people can talk to a virtual financial planner named Cora who can listen to their requests to see the stock performance of a particular company. From there, Cora will conjure the stock chart to appear on a wall in her virtual office like she’s showing off a financial graph on virtual projector.

Schouela said one of the demonstration’s highlights is the ability for Cora to hear and respond to a person’s voice, which negates some of the need for people to fiddle with a VR controller to trigger certain commands.

Currently, the VR experiment is for Fidelity Labs only and is not intended for a wider release. That said, Schouela plans to show it to Fidelity customers to gauge their feedback.

For Amazon (AMZN), the VR experiment is a way the company is hoping to lure businesses to create VR apps using its tools and Amazon Web Services cloud computing features.

Amazon Sumerian General Manager Kyle Roche said that by working with businesses like Fidelity Labs, it could create VR coding tools that cater to the specific needs of companies, rather than video game developers.

One difference Roche has noticed between gamers and enterprises that use Amazon’s VR tools, is that video game developers tend to “push for photorealistic characters” in their VR apps, whereas companies don’t necessarily care.

“What we tried to do is make these characters approachable enough, and not too cartoony so they look like Tomb Raider,” Roche said of the Fidelity Labs VR app.

One of the VR tidbits Schouela has learned trying out and building apps for headsets like the HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift, is that some headsets are better suited for some tasks than others.

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For instance, if a company wants to use VR as a training exercise for employees, it’s probably better to use VR headsets that are powered by smartphones—like the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream View. In situations where a company is training large groups of people using VR, having each person strap on a mobile VR headset is less expensive and cumbersome.

“If you’re going to train a class of let’s say 50 people, you don’t want to set up like 50 HTC Vives,” Schouela said.