Choose Your Next Reality: Creating Immersive Brand Experiences with AR and VR - Part 2

The Olympics may be over, but their spirit remains. Stories of competition, camaraderie, human endurance and achievement were broadcast to a global audience. If you tuned in to watch the events, perhaps you caught a glimpse of a piece of revolutionary technology tucked within the morass of sports-centric ads: the Samsung VR Headset. Although there wasn't even a full commercial devoted to Samsung's VR tech, it was agruably the most fascinating innovation advertised during the event. If you saw the banner ad, perhaps your first thought was "oh cool, another way I can watch the Olympics on my phone." However, the premise of VR its actually much more complex than that.

To illustrate, close your eyes and imagine your most lucid dream. You find yourself standing ankle deep in a vast expanse of green fields. Its quiet. Peaceful. Looking all around, you realize that you are alone. Wait, not quite alone, there is something looming on the horizon...something you can't explain. Its a flying turtle. Funny, right? You know it can't be real. It senses your presence and starts heading toward you. Your initial amusement fades as its approach fills you with an impending sense of dread. What will you do? Your heart rate quickens, your muscles tense. And then...

This is VR. Its purpose is to create a completely immersive experience for the consumer that blends the physical and digital world while distorting any sense of reality. Is it there yet? Not quite. The hardware has its quirks and lags a bit behind the software but its potential is tremendous.

Samsung has quite literally flooded the market with its VR Gear headsets. While these headsets are a marked upgrade from Google's initial product, Google Cardboard, they still don't offer a seamless user experience. Upon startup, there is a warning stating that the user may experience nausea, dizziness and disorientation and also that they should take frequent breaks every 20 minutes. Ostensibly, this is so the user can re-orient themselves back into reality...but in fact, the device is quite taxing on your phone. It takes a tremendous amount of resources to render 20+ frames (images) per second to generate the digital landscape. This causes the attached phone to heat well as the user's forehead. Why else would there be built in experiential inhibitation?

Hardware aside (assuming v2.0 improves on this issue), the experience itself is hard to put into words. It is very jarring and disorientating...but the immersion is total. It really is impressive how adaptable the mind can be: green skies, floating question marks filled with bitcoins...sure, why not! It may seem far fetched, but what happens inside those goggles feels real. Unlike playing a video game, one can't escape the experience by turning around. You can't look away because "away" is rendered too. The possibilities are limitless.

Here's a practical example - what if you wanted to test drive a new car. You want to know how it handles, how the interior is designed, what the blindspots are. What if you could walk into a dealership and drive a car around the block...without leaving the showroom floor. Cool, right? Let's take it a step farther. What if you wanted to see how the vechicle handles a crash? Using the vehicle specs and an algorithm of spatial physics, it is concievable to render a realistic demonstration that ensures the safety of all passengers involved. Imagine the time and resources that dealership could save?

Let's apply this concept to real estate and vacation rental markets. While there are a number of virtual tours available, imagine how much more impactful the online experience if one could engage in a their initial self-guided tour of a property from a plane, a train or even their parents' couch. The visceral impact alone could help reduce 'window shoppers' and instead limit in-person tours to serious inquiries only.

This is only the beginning. VR, by design, is designed to be a very disruptive technology. Its capacity to embed the viewer in a completely rendered ecosystem is unparalleled, and will not be confined limited to media and entertainment only.

Questions? Comments? We're here to help... sound off below! :-)