Chances are you’ve come across Virtual Reality in the media and it is everywhere! But what does this mean for the corporate and marketing world?
Virtual Reality is the process in which a 360 degree environment is created and allows the viewer to look around it as they would in real life. This environment can be animated or filmed.
In the past there were limited ways of distributing this content, the resolution left a lot to be desired and seemed underwhelming.
A number of major hurdles have been overcome recently and image resolution has been one of the key points of improvement. For those who have been working with the Oculus Development Kit 1 and those who have upgraded to Development Kit 2 a marked difference in the quality of the resolution is evident, which in short means a more believable Virtual Environment. Resolution is the key in selling Virtual Reality and tricking the brain into believing what it is sees is “real”.
With major players investing money in the technology, we can safely assume that it is being taken very seriously and that it is not a fad, but technology that is here to stay and more importantly will be a great sales tool.
Facebook acquired Oculus, Samsung launched Samsung Gear VR (with more advances being made and to be discussed later), Sony issued a launch date for its offering cleverly named Morpheus and even HTC announced its consumer product Vive. Furthermore Youtube is now VR compatible, which means that yet another important distribution channel has been opened and Facebook is expected follow suit based on its investment in Oculus. The sheer number of people, who ingest content on these two platforms alone, means an audience base exists.
In the past with Oculus a motion sensor was required to track the movement of the viewer’s head to “know” where the viewer was looking in virtual space, but with the advent of Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard our smart phones have now become the perfect distribution platform. Utilizing the accelerometer and GPS in the phone, we no longer require the motion tracker as they fulfill this task.
What does this mean?
Google Cardboard is as the name states, cardboard folded into the shape of VR goggles that houses your mobile device. With inexpensive optic glass in the front, that “throws” the image back, we can now create Apps or use Youtube to get our content to the consumer. This cardboard can be branded and thus becomes a great corporate gift or vehicle to distribute your brand message. Apps and Youtube give us critical insight into how our content is being ingested and by whom. Analytics have become an integral part of marketing and the distribution platforms for VR creates a treasure-trove of data.
So what and whom is Virtual Reality good for…
VR has massive potential for the real-estate industry. Not only can we see an animated environment, but we can look around your new potential house or apartment and feel what it feels like to stand in that space thus enhancing the selling potential.
Automotive: You can test drive a new Jaguar around the block and observe the legal speed limit, or you can experience the exhilaration of driving it around the track at high speed through VR.
VR allows the viewer to experience adrenaline driven scenarios with complete safety: Bungee jumping, sky diving, roller coasters etc.
Travel: What does it feel like to be on a beach in Thailand; why should I visit? What can Dubai offer me as a tourist or a businessman? I can watch a video, but with VR I’m placed in the physical space. It will never trump the “real thing” but it will motivate me to go there if I enjoy the experience.
Live streaming VR gives people access to concerts like Glastonbury, Woodstock etc. and not just from a spectator’s perspective, but from the bands perspective. You feel what it feels like to be on stage with thousands of people in the crowd and in real time.
You can face a fast bowler and experience what a world-class batsman does without the risk of taking a nasty bouncer to the head; baseball, tennis and any sport you can think of.
The first VR movies, which completely immerses the viewer and allows them to feel part of the experience is already in production. Imagine how much more riveting (if that’s possible) Saving Private Ryan would be if you could look around the chaotic scenes at Normandy. Granted, for filmmakers there are a whole host of new factors to navigate; we need to remove set lighting, the camera and the crew in post and we need to make sure that we have a strong visual MacGuffin in every scene that “tells” the viewer where to look and when, but these are all exciting challenges and ones we have mostly solved already.
The applications really are endless and as the technology matures and grows we’ll find more and more innovative uses for it.
In the words of the great Stan Lee: “Excelsior!”