VR – The Age of Engage is Upon Us

The time of ‘lean back’ experiences are over, and the age of engage has begun.

February 22, 2018

With an average of 68 minutes each day watching digital videos, users’ lives are saturated all sorts of video content each vying for attention. Which should come out on top? The lucky are the viral, the unusual or the downright bizarre – the unlucky – well, who remembers?

That’s where VR can come in. It commands 100% of the user’s attention, something increasingly rare these days. It guarantees to leave an impression. We use VR to create entire computer generated environments designed to totally immerse the user in a place they’ve never been, seen or even imagined before.

It commands 100% of the user’s attention, something increasingly rare these days

Therefore, VR can abolish the need to ‘visualise’ and instead just, well… be. The user doesn’t have to stretch their imagination too far to believe that their product will work, or their service can change – because they will actually experience what it feels like to be in the situation where it does.

It goes for training and learning tools too. Yet another video might not leave much of a mark on your workforce, but an interactive, highly dynamic, immersive experience certainly will.

At best, VR is an awesome solo experience which lasts about 15 minutes- at worst, it’s a motion-sickness inducing nightmare

How effective is this technology? We all know that VR is past it’s infancy, but it’s probably still in it’s awkward teens. We know the technology has huge potential but we still have a few obstacles to get past if we’re to mature. At best, VR is an awesome solo experience which lasts about 15 minutes- at worst, it’s a motion-sickness inducing nightmare. And right now, a lot of VR designers and developers don’t know what good or bad VR design looks like.

Despite that- if you want to be a leader, now is the time to invest in the technology. Tech leaders like Sony, Google and Facebook are throwing money at the hardware to try and get past these obstacles, so it’s up to strategists, thinkers and designers to come up with unique and well-designed experiences specifically designed for the headset. Headsets which really aren’t so much a luxury as they used to be- Google Cardboard being the prime example of inexpensive, on-the-fly VR which anybody with a smartphone can use.

Great brands are built around great customer experience. These experiences are delivered by omnichannel, and we’ve already got proof that VR should be added to this roster as a way to meaningfully engage with the customer. There are already a bunch of virtual shopping and ‘test drive’ experiences emerging, which prove effective at engaging customers directly with brand and product. Right now it’s a novelty, but as VR enters homes in the form of entertainment systems, this kind of technology will become commonplace – even expected by users. The brands which stand out will be the ones that are ahead of the curve.

For those brave enough to admit they don’t know what the difference between AR, VR and 360 media is, lets talk briefly about the differences between them.

360 video offers the ability to capture real, immersive environments and put the user in the middle of it all- often this is achieved by filming at location with multiple cameras set up in a spherical rig or by using a specialist 360-degree camera. More often than not, the user wears a VR headset to watch the experience- by turning their heads they can see everything the camera sees, and with the right sound effects, a user can feel transported to a totally different place. The content can vary- from terrifying cliff jumps to car test drives, trekking in the Alaskan wilderness or being dropped right in the middle of Syrian refuge camp. Using real footage helps to conjure a really emotional response from the user- even if their actual interaction with the experience is limited to moving their head.

VR (Virtual reality) creates an entire computer generated environment where the user can actually move around and interact within these surroundings. This is the big one that entertainment and tech companies are investing heavily into– by placing a headset on their heads and headphones over their ears, VR captures the user and provides serious, full-on immersive experiences.

AR fuses the real environment around you with the unseen, impossible or conceptual

AR (Augmented Reality) differs from both because it doesn’t try to transport the user anywhere- instead it blends into the real world, fusing the real environment around you with the unseen, impossible or conceptual. AR might have far reaching applications such as we’ve seen in sci-fi films but right now it’s main use is integrating UI with the user’s everyday life- maybe lending itself to more casual applications.