Virtual Reality has been a staple of the Sci-Fi genre since before the 1950’s, authors exploring the potential of a holographic fictional experience as early as 1935. A fair bit has changed since the days of the Great Depression, especially technology. One specific technology we’ve seen gain some traction as of late is the gaming industry moving into a 360 degree immersive experience. Just as the TV and the internet resulted in new and exciting marketing opportunities, VR may be the most exciting yet.
One of the first legitimate moves into viable and believable VR experiences came with the Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift, a head mounted display module intended to be used for gaming purposes, but has since found applications in all forms of media, from 360 degree YouTube videos (which you can also use your phone for!), to architectural and engineering development uses. These units are yet to be commercially released but have allowed developers to apply the technology in some incredible and innovative ways. What has brought the VR domain into accessible hands is the Google Cardboard kit, turning both Android and iOS phones into low cost virtual reality devices.
The above video showcases the incredible education applications this can have, I always dreamed of virtual reality classroom lessons, and now it can be achieved with your phone. Magic school bus style without the magic. Google has expanded this experience by partnering with organisations like the American Museum of Natural History and The Planetary Society to do things like view Mars.
And while the educational, entertainment and practical applications of this are enormous, it also present an excellent opportunity for brands to market in a while new way. Subaru has already developed an app to take advantage of the new trend, a 360 degree racing experience. Advertising in every direction. Volvo and Audi have both attempted to use the technology to create virtual show rooms and test drives, allowing potential consumers to get a substantially more in depth visual understanding of the products than a Google image search would allow.
Marriott Hotels launched a unique advertising campaign giving passers by a chance to “teleport” to holiday locations around the world, #GetTeleported utilised VR headsets to allow for virtual tours of their hotel locations worldwide. (photo links to their promo video).
As the technology becomes increasingly commonplace amongst consumers, and as easily accessible as your smartphone, marketers will be able to implement more creative and valuable campaigns based around consumers entering their carefully crafted virtual world. Who knows how far it will go.
Do you think this is another temporary cool fad or has actual applications?
Ever given any VR a try?