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The Reality of Going Virtual

For some people, Virtual Reality remains a distant technology – a load of hype for a new gimmick that is only found in arcade games or theme park rides. In truth, it lives all around us.

For the first time in a long while, a technology has emerged that everybody can access. Think back to the arrival of 3D TVs into the mainstream, you needed to invest in a specific plasma, wear the special googles and settle for little content which made 3D Television a complete non-starter for the masses. You may also recall Google Glass – a true innovation but one that was impractical, lavishly priced and simply too far ahead of its time.

All consumers have access to virtual reality, often without knowing it. Smartphones have revolutionised how we live in the world and once again they are a key accelerant for the rise and rise of Virtual Reality. All the equipment you need is in your hand.

VR overcomes the frustrations faced by Windows, Blackberry and Nokia users who sometimes cannot access apps because the technology is device agnostic. Available as an ordinary online browser-based experience, everybody can immerse themselves within WebVR regardless of their device. No questions asked. You don’t even need one specific headset to experience it in all its glory. Sure, there are fancy ones, the £700 Oculus Rift comes to mind; however, there are also simple cut-out and bend cardboard viewers available from between £2 and £15. It’s scary how few people realise just how accessible this technology is.

Alex Baldock, CEO of one of our long-standing clients, Shop Direct, sees VR being a huge part of their business moving forward. Shop Direct, who own brands such as Very and Littlewoods, are an industry-leading e-tailer. So given that they have no high-street presence, how can VR help them? Well it’s a matter of understanding how this technology is going to take their business to the next level. They recognise VR as being a mechanic to provide easy access to products for their customers. Baldock recently told Retail Week “We want to bring inspiration as well as ease of access to our customers, and we’re going to stay the course until we achieve that.”

A progressive business mind-set like this is very exciting, and inspired us to think about how we can be more innovative too. If a retail company can use VR in this way, imagine what we could do with it in our live experiences! Our clients already benefit from VR 3D renders of stage sets and plans – fully immersing them in how we will bring an event venue to life. Combined with on-site 3D photography and video, we’ve been able to bridge the gap from CGI to reality. We often incorporate both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality into interactive conference events of Brand Activation projects to inspire something new into delegates. The opportunities are limitless.

This was demonstrated last year by Jaguar when their November car launch was delivered at a whole new level. Launching the I-PACE, their futuristic electronic car, the reveal moment had to be as exciting as the product itself. Enter VR.

Jaguar gave sixty-six people across two-continents a VR experience to show them more than just the future of their car. The result was a shared yet very individual experience, immersed within the VR headset. Presenters were given the unique opportunity to deliver their piece directly to each member of the audience via their headset rather than addressing a whole room. This shared launch experience took place all at once across the world.

Virtual Reality is here and it’s going to be the next big technology for the masses. Widely available by leveraging technology we all already own means they’ve addressed several massive problems that previous technologies failed to overcome. With 360 cameras becoming more affordable and edit software more accessible, who knows where VR will take us in the years to come.

Do you share our excitement for VR? What’s the best example you’ve seen implemented somewhere? Do you think it’s going to impact on your business any time soon?

With just a headset and your mobile phone, where will you go next?

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