Mark McKenna, Executive Producer in our New York office explores why virtual reality could make you a better communicator.
It feels like there’s a new ‘VR’ headline every other day. Virtual Reality is expected to be a $38 billion industry by 2026. Youtube is now offering 360 video on your TV, not just on your mobile device. Google is developing standalone headsets that mean you no longer need to use a phone. Children of the 90s rejoice: the prospect of taking part in ’Knightmare’ direct from your living room is alive and well.
"We're making a long-term bet that immersive, virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people's daily life"
Before we get into what virtual reality means for your business, let’s be sure we’re all talking about the same thing, as there’s a lot of terminology floating around about VR. Cue the cheat sheet.
Virtual Reality (VR) – This is exactly what you imagine it to be. A fully immersive experience, using positional tracking so you can freely move about and interact with what you see. It’s wearing a headset, running on a hamster wheel, while your brain thinks you’re somewhere else.
360 Video – Often presented as Virtual Reality, but not really. Think the Samsung Gear headset or the Google cardboard; you’re dropped into a space with a 360 view but you can’t actually walk around and investigate, you watch.
Augmented Reality (AR) – It’s Pokémon Go or the latest Snapchat filters. Your device is used as a window to the real world. The camera understands what it’s looking at and can place elements around you; that lens creates an illusion about your environment.
Got it? Good.
Now that we’re all on the same page let’s consider the application to your business. And to start, that’s probably going to be 360 video. Virtual tours of facilities, check. Attendance at events anywhere on the planet from the comfort of your cubicle, check. Experiencing a different country or environmental issue to better understand what it’s like, check. Watching Netflix on a virtual cinema screen in a ski lodge on top of a mountain in front of a roaring fire… yes, people are doing that too.
But here’s the insight.
While many think the adoption of VR technology will come from gaming or the entertainment industry it
can be argued this is not actually the case. The most impactful and widespread application will come
in the form of immersive learning and news.
And this is where corporate communicators
can lead the way.
The value of content is multiplied when a viewer walks away thinking about what it means to them. Impactful learning comes when you give the audience a deeper understanding, making them remember from experience, emotion, and empathy. VR technology can exploit this in ways previously unimaginable.
I recently enjoyed ‘an audience with’ the creators of a Bank of America whitepaper on Alternate Realities (the other AR). The whitepaper was delivered via 360 video, a clever and particularly apt use of the technology given the subject matter. It is a pioneering step and the risk they took in commissioning should be applauded. It is also well worth watching to inform your thinking on how this style of production could apply to your business. The big take away from the experience? VR is a ground-breaking step in Data Visualization and Immersive learning is here to stay.
Some useful sources:
- Virtual Reality is expected to be a $38 billion industry by 2026 - The new 10-year industry forecast from Greenlight Insights and Road to VR suggests the VR business will be “very modest” through 2018, and in an “inflexion zone” for the next five years before blossoming to $38 billion in annual revenues by 2026.
- Google is developing standalone headsets that mean you no longer need to use a phone.
- Youtube is now offering 360 video on your TV, not just on your mobile device