The emerging technologies of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have proven themselves far more than gimmicks or buzzwords.
In fact, a major theme of the StoryNEXT conference in New York City, a gathering of thought leaders exploring new frontiers in storytelling, proclaimed that virtual reality is not so much an enhancement to existing media, such as film or television, but a powerful medium of its own. A medium that delivers not just information, but unprecedented opportunities to deliver sensory experience and interactivity.
In fact VR and AR technologies dominated the 2016 CES show last month. From consumer to business uses, the consensus of industry insiders covering the show was that VR is poised to change the world.
In this issue of Marketing Coach we review some of the ways that VR and AR have entered the market and how they have the potential to affect how we communicate, engage with the market and even live our lives.
Virtual Reality (VR) is an artificial environment that is experienced through sensory stimuli provided by a computer and in which one's actions partially determine what happens in the environment. Via this platform, artificially created sensory experiences can include sight, hearing, touch, and smell.
Augmented Reality (AR) produces an enhanced version of reality that is created by the use of technology to overlay digital information (including sound, video, graphics or GPS data) on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera).
AR/VR Market Outlook
Marketers and their brands will want to be paying close attention to developments in these technologies so they can leverage them to better connect with their key audiences. According to a recent report by TechEye:
ABI Research said augmented reality (AR) products will be worth around $100 billion by 2020.
According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the VR market is expected to grow to $407.51 million and reach more than 25 million users by 2018.
How will AR/VR Transform the Audience?
Empathy: Brings subjects to life, gives people a more visceral experience and creates an emotional attachment.
Experience: Removes barriers so people can step into the scene rather than just observe from a distance or a flat surface.
Engage: Viewers will be offered choices, actions with immediate feedback and outcomes that affect them intellectually and/or emotionally. People become the subject by seeing a situation through their own eyes.
Recall/Memory: Information may be more easily retained by having a deeper experience these technologies afford. Instead of pouring over facts and data from books and video, participants live them in a way that can create longer term retention and understanding.
How will AR/VR be Used to Communicate?
News will no longer rely on the journalist alone to bring the viewer into the update, rather the journalist will be able to immerse the audience in the story. This adds texture, emotion, humanity, detail and makes the audience the editorial board. This holds true for a variety of media as well.
The New York Times commenced a new virtual reality initiative and distributed more than a million "Google Cardboard" viewers, and started releasing 360-degree documentary virtual reality films via its website.
For its recent coverage from Syria, ABC utilized a VR app for iOS and Android devices that enabled viewers to experience VR content. ABC News plans to use the technology around events such as trips to places like Cuba that have been difficult for many viewers to reach or even coverage of the 2016 race for U.S. President.
Discovery Communications said immersive content will be available at DiscoveryVR.com, through Apple and Android apps, Samsung Milk VR premium video service and on Discovery's YouTube channels.
Gannett, created several VR projects over the past year - most of which include 360-degree video. Most recently, working with the Des Moines Register, Gannett streamed a Republican Soap Box, live in 360 degree video.
Augmented and virtual reality represent new ways of telling stories for brands, thought leaders and customers. Brands such as Microsoft, Volvo, BMW and institutions such as the International Space Station are embracing augmented and virtual reality to offer consumers more immersive capabilities, expanded range of services, and engaging experiential and emotional aspects not possible via the written word or even video. NASA even showed off their newest rocket at the 2016 CES show using VR technology.
Volvo Car Group is bringing Microsoft's HoloLens augmented-reality goggles to its showrooms. Using the device, Volvo displays full-size three-dimensional holograms of the car and cross-sections of its parts, as well as a holographic test-drive demonstrations of the semi-autonomous driving system and its safety features.
Next year, a VR camera will be launched to the International Space Station to capture virtual reality content for people round the world.
Education is a natural application for virtual and augmented reality in terms of increasing retention of learning material and increasing enthusiasm for learning among K-12 and college students. In addition, they have particularly great potential in STEM-related subjects, complex coursework and distance learning applications.
Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif., has opened a first-of-its-kind virtual reality learning centerthat's been designed to allow students from every program-dentistry, osteopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, and nursing-to learn through VR.
The British Museum in London launched a VR learning initiative this month in partnership with Samsung. Injecting VR into an exhibition area called the Digital Discovery Centre allowed the museum to change the way people see the technology and how it could be used to engage people of all ages in ways not possible before by helping them understand an otherwise dry or complex subject.
Engineering students at Penn State have developed an immersive virtual reality (IVR) systemwith the potential to provide distance education students with an immersive, tactile classroom experience.
Professional and corporate training can be conducted in virtual environments that bring the participant closer to actual situations they may encounter in their profession or job. Augmented reality can provide extra information within a program or video that supports the knowledge they will need to be successful.
One of the most widely used applications of VR has been inmilitary training such as a VR training simulation program using Unity 3D game technology for the military's Patriot defense system.
Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications. To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 212-399-0026 or visit www.ivycohen.com.