Virtual Reality is quickly growing up
Today has certainly been one for the memory books. I visited a new football stadium that is yet to be built, carried out my first intraoral injection, explored the inside of the human body and test drove the new Jaguar I-PACE on Venice Beach. Just another normal day at Brands2Life I hear you ask? Well actually, this was all thanks to VR World (and Dell for taking me along to join the team for the day – disclaimer, Dell is a Brands2Life client).
At times today, I distinctly remember feeling like I was glancing into the future – in a surreal Black Mirror sort of way. And I have to say it has taken me by surprise. Because up until now, my experiences of VR have been distinctly underwhelming – my first time was in an immersive gaming experience around two years ago (shortly after the Facebook Oculus Rift acquisition) and I was sat on a roller coaster, being flown from pillar to post and seemingly being challenged to keep my lunch down.
Whether it was the nausea caused by that rollercoaster ride, my own cynicism or the lack of credible business use cases available back then (perhaps a combination of the three), but until today, part of me had always refused to fully buy into the VR hype, on a commercial level at least. Could it just be another fad, great for gaming but ultimately heading in the same trajectory as 3D TV when opened up to the masses?
I am delighted to say, on record, that any doubts I may have had back then have now been well and truly quashed. Today has allowed me to see first hand, the different ways organisations are using VR to transform just about every sector that holds up our society. From oil and gas, media and entertainment, construction, engineering and manufacturing to healthcare – there are so many interesting use cases across each, but I’ll save that for my next post.
For me, that is what makes VR so exciting. It has come such a long way in a very short space of time – transitioning from its early childhood phase (as a gaming peripheral) and quickly growing into adolescence (a platform that can create genuine business value). Like any early teenager, it still has a lot of maturing to do and its best years still lie ahead. But now is the time it can really learn about itself, challenge the status quo, understand its aspirations and not be afraid to make mistakes. You can be sure too that this teenager will grow up very quickly. To quote Gary Radburn, VR Guru at Dell (that isn’t his official job title by the way): “one year in virtual reality is the equivalent of a dog year – seven years of innovation happening in front of our eyes, something I don’t expect to slow down any time soon.”
And as marketers, that is where we come in. It is our responsibility to help VR mature, to experiment with the platform, educate users and imagine the possibilities it could open up for the organisations we are each a part of. From a comms perspective, VR is about so much more than PR and its potential opportunities really do stretch as far as the imagination. It has the power to digitise businesses, redefine customer experiences, increase collaboration, speed up time to market and train employees. Each of these are just some of the compelling reasons why it has grown so quickly and why Facebook spent $2billion on Oculus VR in 2014.
So now onto the fun part (in my next post) where I will describe some of the more innovative business use cases of VR in practice today. Stay tuned.