It’s a small world, and it’s only getting smaller…Technology has brought our world together, making it possible to meet, connect, and stay in contact with people from around the world. Now, technology has pushed the envelope and allowed us to connect with worlds outside of our wildest imaginations.
Once, merely a dream of gamers, scientists and sci-fi fanatics, Virtual Reality – Technology that thrusts a user into alternate worlds and fantastical, artificial realms – is now, more real than ever. With a new breath of life after Oculus’ successful 2012 crowd fund, VR companies and projects (HTC Vive, Sony Project Morpheus and the Microsoft Hololens to name a few) have been popping up like crazy and there’s no sign of slowing down.
Seeing as gaming companies, and now entertainment and social media companies all have a stake in this technology, and with VR headsets hitting shelves this winter, we are sure to see major changes beyond the ‘nerd-bubble’ that VR has been previously trapped in. Let’s take a look at 7 ways this technology will affect our everyday lives.
1) VR will be a “Game” changer The most familiar way we recognize VR is through gaming. Many of the oncoming VR headsets have blatantly self-identified themselves as ‘gaming focused/purposed’. This includes the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Though it is too early to predict a full takeover of the gaming sector, VR will bring interesting changes to the gaming world that are definitely worth trying.
Traditionally, gaming is done with a console, a controller, and a TV. VR, obviously, will change the TV/monitor component, thrusting a player, visually and somewhat mentally, into a completely new visual interface.
Beyond visuals, companies have thrown in biomechanics that will immerse the body and body movements into the virtual realm as well. Imagine picking up a bottle, and having a glove that simulates the grip resistance.
Along with physical changes, trade in your couch and console for a few dozen sensors, HD Holophonic (3d audio) headphones, and an empty warehouse. Dive into a virtual game where one can merge laser tag with a zombie apocalypse. No sweat, right? Good, because Melbourne’s Zero Latency entertainment center already has this up and running and there are many facilities to come.
2) The Best Seat in the House Back in 2014, would you have rather bought a plane ticket to Brazil for $1,500, shelled out for overcrowded hotels and paid $500 for a FIFA World Cup nosebleed ticket? Or, would you rather have saved the money, enjoyed skipping the lines and, instead, walked up and down the sideline of the field next to the likes of Messi and Nemar Jr.?
While some would still opt for the nosebleeds, NextVR has found ways to make ‘sitting on the players’ bench’ a possibility. With a live test broadcast of Manchester United’s pre season showdown against FC Barcelona at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, NextVR has shown views of the game that not even superfans and VIP members have had access to. This advance will have massive affects on Events and Event Marketing.
Even if you’re more of a TV watcher, Altspace utilizes VR technology to help you watch events like the Super Bowl in a virtual living room with your friends from around the world on a virtual Imax sized screen for free, resulting in a rather inception-esque concept that we encourage you not to think too hard about. Instead, focus on planning your next-level Super Bowl 50 Party.
3) Reconstructing Retail Augmented Reality, technology that shows virtual objects in the real world, has been trying to integrate into retail marketing for some time now. Back in 2013, Ikea even launched an AR catalogue showing homeowners what certain pieces of furniture would look like in their homes. With apps that use Phone Cameras and the digital space to display model images, reviews and comments, Augmented reality may consider Virtual Reality to either be a challenger or a complimentary technology. The key for VR to break into retail will be to use VR’s strengths: the ability to immerse a consumer and therefore realistically let the consumer test a product, say, like a new Infiniti concept car, and the ability to tell the Story of a brand. What better way to convey the cause of your company than to take your consumer there and have them experience it for themselves?
TOMS CEO Blake Mycoskie integrated VR into his Flagship store to virtually, yet realistically take consumers on a free trip to Peru where children are receiving their pair of toms purchased by the customers. This type of brand storytelling and in-depth interaction will change the retail market.
4) Videography and Filmmaking With the affordability of post-production software like Final Cut Pro X and the Adobe suites that make shots from any camera cinematic-worthy, the growing population of indie filmmakers and photographers is currently a ‘trend with no end’. Samsung’s VR is hoping to create an integration of VR into this community by broadcasting videos to owners of their GearVR headsets and providing mentorship to aspiring VR filmmakers, and guess what? It’s working!
Though it may not yet be profitable enough for VR movies to be in the Hollywood spotlight due to VR accessibility, the newly established Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival is a seven-week tour kicking off in Portland, Oregon. This new community is set to be the new ‘Sundance’ of VR and will hopefully add a new social layer to the isolated stigma associated with VR users. Don’t be shy, and check out the festival for yourself!
5) TV/Cable Video killed the radio star, but will Virtual Reality kill TV and force Internet to the next level? The question is that, though entertainment may be straying even further away from traditional TV, opting for Cable alternatives like Netflix, Hulu, and even turning towards mobile devices, Cable companies may look forward to the boom in desires for better, stronger Internet connections. This is fully supported by the appetite of the bandwidth pig: VR. As far as Internet connection and bandwidth usage goes, VR is currently the heavy hitter.
As more and more users assimilate to life with VR, consumers are going to have to prepare, as Internet steps up its game and as a result, Cable companies start to change or alter their business models. Predictably, this won’t happen for a while though, for the currently challenge is the lack of available content and the obstacles to mass accessibility. Mind you, we are still somewhat in the first movers stage.
6) Destination Marketing Not many of us have ever or will ever visit outer space, let alone the entirety of our own planet. Making the trip beyond the atmosphere supposedly costs upwards of $200,000 and while some, like Ashton Kutcher have reportedly booked their tickets, this may not be feasible for the rest of us. SpaceVR is the solution, hoping to provide a mentality-changing experience from the perspective of an astronaut. This perspective, called the Overview Effect is supposed to change how “we see ourselves and our planet and how fragile we really are in the immense space that surrounds us.”
VR is a way to reach the improbable, and visit the unattainable. Along with extremely detailed, interactive virtualizations of real places that would take your breath away, imagine stepping into an actualized version of your favorite fictional movie scene or destination. Continuous innovation and improvements being made to VR is rapid, and the possibilities are endless, making virtual traveling a good marketing tool for travel agencies, and in the future, potentially making digital tourism a real enough experience to be considered a viable product. With live feeds from around and outside of this world, get ready to check off some virtual bucket list destinations.
7) Social Media/Social Media Marketing Currently when referring to the Big 3 in the Social Media realm, we think of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Aside from that, there are countless Social Media apps and programs out there including Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat etc. Fourthwall Media is already integrating these platforms, starting with Twitter, into Virtual Reality, creating a completely new way to manage and interact with content and other users. And, since 2014, Facebook has owned Oculus, who is leading the charge into the year of VR.
Now let’s take a look at Social Media Marketing’s biggest trend in the travel world: Influencers. Influencer tours and Influencer marketing has taken off and there is no sign of slowing down...until now…?
Utilizing Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, and Instagram, travel influencers are able to ‘almost’ take their followers along on their journey. The only thing their followers would miss on their trip to Thailand are the foreign conversations in downtown Bangkok, the sights and sounds in Phuket, and the endless roaming in the bustling bazaars and street food markets, just to name a few. Basically, the only thing they are actually getting are quick snapshots and snippets of the influencer’s adventure. VR in combination with Social Media could either replace or aid certain platforms in creating a more immersive experience, either satiating their Social Jealousy or making it worse.
With the launch of Facebook (2004), Twitter (2006), Instagram (2010), and Snapchat (2011) social media has come a long way in not only utility, but strategy as well. It has affected and accelerated how we get jobs, create content and communicate with one another. How social media will combine with VR is still a mystery, but it is quite exciting that our generation has the opportunity to influence its direction and watch it. If nothing else, one thing is for certain: It is crucial now, more than ever, to move at the speed of social.
Our list has come to an end, but rest assured, this is only just the beginning for Virtual Reality. Change is truly the name of the game. Keep your eyes and mind open, for it’s a far bigger, far more expansive world than you once thought.