Virtual Reality has turned into one of the most buzzed about new media trends, that many people just don’t understand. People assume it involves a bodysuit, a lot of wires, and a matrix-like experience. Virtual Reality does not suddenly change users into Keanu Reeves. Contrary to what some think, VR is not augmented reality. It does not blend with your real life surroundings. It creates a virtual reality through 360° video footage. When projected as a split screen video, your eyes are able to take you all around the footage to see every degree and angle of it. VR can literally transport you to a new place, completely transcending the physical boundaries that hold you back in life. It does not make you forget where you actually are, but it allows you to experience a different space mentally. Because of this unique mobility, Virtual Reality is becoming increasingly more popular, catching up to traditional video and photography. Much to your surprise, it’s a lot simpler and more accessible than it sounds.
VR really is not as scary as you may think. Yes, it aims to take over your hearing and visual senses to transport you somewhere else, but you constantly remain aware of where you physically are. The technology has become shockingly simple, anyone can use it. Early virtual reality of the 90s used to involve a heavy, dome shaped box, fit with a screen and headphones, that covered your entire head. A commonly known early VR headset models was the VFX 3D. VR technology like this would cost several thousands of dollars to even produce, because of how complicated its technology was was, which made it inaccessible to buyers. The unnecessary girth of VR devices like these are why virtuality did not begin to gain mainstream popularity until now. The technology was there, but it was large and daunting, making it out of reach to a mainstream buyer market.
Today, VR comes in a much smaller form. One of the most popular VR devices is the Oculus Rift. This was created by a young kid living in his parent’s basement, funded via a 2 million dollar Kickstarter campaign. This product was so successful that Facebook ended up buying the Oculus Rift for 2 billion dollars. By projecting a different set of images for each eye on the screen within the compact machine, buyers are able to get a 360° of anywhere in the world. With a price point less than that of an iPad Pro, The Oculus Rift makes VR accessible to anyone.
There is an even cheaper VR option for buyers who aren’t looking to spend hundreds of dollars on gear. The Google Cardboard uses cardboard to create the same eye effects that give viewers a 360° view of the world, with your personal smartphone entering a slot in the device to be used as the screen. Buyers can purchase a Google Cardboard device for under 10 dollars. This is technology that anyone can use.
Anywhere You Want To Go
One of the coolest things about VR is that it can take you anywhere you want to go, but at the same time, you don’t have to actually pay thousands of dollars to get to these exciting places. Google even has an app for your smartphone called “Street View”, which works specifically with the Google Cardboard. Open this application, enter any place you want to see in the world, and it’ll take you there. Tons of users submit 360° footage of their adventures, so Cardboard users can experience it for themselves. Want to explore Austria or South Africa? With a click of a button, this technology can take you there. It even feels real! When you put on your headset and walk around Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, you feel like you are really there. You see the other excited people around you and the famous castle just a few feet away. You half expect to smell the famous popcorn scent of Mainstreet USA, and are a little disappointed when you remember you can’t. You know you aren’t really in Disney World, but you still get the same sensation you did the last time you physically visited. VR technology can make you feel this magic.
Virtual Reality isn’t only necessarily meant for experiencing new places without having to pay to see them. VR can also lend you a new perspective on something you could never actually experience in real life. This includes everything from riding a roller coaster in outer space (maybe that’ll happen to you… someday) all the way to putting you right in the middle of a corrupt prison system, or the crisis in Syria. Journalists have started to work with Virtual Reality teams to create pieces that put viewers directly into these terrifying situations, to help people better understand and personally relate. These are experiences you will never come across in real life, but VR puts you right in the center of them. Here at TSG, we recently became fascinated with these types of experiences, so we have an entire separate post on them over at Ignite. You can read all you want about these types of situations, but you don’t really understand them until you are actually in the setting- and with VR, that is now possible.
What all the cool aspects of VR have in common is one underlying thing- human emotion. Virtual Reality really exists off of making people able to feel. It creates feelings of love, horror, and excitement.VR can make you feel the same way you would after a weekend escape to a far away land, and that’s a good feeling. It can also make users feel more human, and more connected to the rest of humanity. Virtual reality provokes your senses. Once you’re in your VR headset, you can’t escape what you are seeing- your senses are forced to feel. That’s why VR is such a successful tool within journalism. Users no longer feel separate from events on the other side of the world- they feel personally affected by them. To some, it is shocking that this “device” can create such intense emotions, but that is exactly what makes Virtual Reality so successful. It gives its users very real life emotions, in an accessible setting.
Virtual Reality for Business:
Virtual reality for business is the next natural extension. VR really can be used in any field- as you see with journalism. What ties Virtual Reality and marketing together is their usage of emotions. Like VR, marketing is a tool that is meant to create an emotion within audiences- with the ultimate goal of them becoming consumers of a specific product. Marketing relies on the emotion created by the relationships between music, text, videos and photography. Logically, it makes sense that the next step in marketing would be virtual reality for business. VR can combine all these elements together in one visual. You would not have to describe a place through marketing, you could literally place a consumer there and have them experience the exact emotion you want from them.
That’s why virtual reality for business is such a powerful tool for products such as travel and real estate. If a hotel company wants to sell a specific destination, they no longer need to market the idea of it. Instead, they can generate VR content of the place and show it to consumers, bringing the idea to life. Experiencing the place virtually compels people to see the real thing as well, so they book the hotel. Real estate takes a similar approach when it uses virtual reality for business. Instead of typical listing photos or open houses, some agencies have started to capture properties with 360° technology, or decide to generate it digitally for buyers. This gets buyers to see themselves in their new home, and make them more likely to purchase it without having seen it in the flesh. This is especially useful in two cases. First, it makes buying properties internationally much simpler. Buyers do not have to worry about traveling to across the planet simply to tour the property. Instead, they can view it virtually and still make an informed decision based on how the property makes them feel. Second, this allows real estate agencies to begin marketing and selling properties before they are even built. If a building will not be finished until 2020, an agency can simply generate a digital VR tour of the home to begin selling it in 2016. People will still get the emotion from the property, and agencies believe that is what is post important. Buyers can see the kitchen where they will host their future Thanksgiving, and instantly get attached to a property- even if it has yet to be completed. Virtual reality for business can lead to quick and easy sales, making a the business even more successful.
So, should you start considering virtual reality for business? Maybe. Explore the vastness virtual reality can create. Feel the emotions of it, and explore the new possibilities. If you think you want to try out VR tech for your business, get in touch with us! We are always looking for a new adventure, and would love to join you.