abril 22, 2014 11:00 am
Until a couple of weeks ago, the 2 most accurate images that could come to mind thinking about Virtual Reality (apart from video games, which I personally have a limited interest in) were:
- Tom Cruise flicking pages on a virtual wall screen in a Spielberg futurist movie (i.e. Minority Report)
- Those airplane simulators to help pilots learn how to fly.
Needless to say that both of those examples seemed to be quite far from “my” marketing reality, where presenting an interactive rich media banner to a client is a luxury, not often affordable.
But here is a compilation of the last two months VR related news, that triggered my curiosity and made me realise its huge impact on marketing:
- Facebook boss splashed out some $2 billion on Oculus VR, a company that makes headsets that let gamers immerse themselves in fantasy worlds. He described the news on March 25th as a LONG-TERM bet on the future of computing.
- Sony recently unveiled Project Morpheus, a prototype of a virtual reality headset that is designed to work with its PlayStation 4 gaming console so that, say, zooming around in the popular “Gran Turismo” driving simulator becomes even more compelling.
- Paypal co-founder, Elin Musk, and Hollywood star Ashton Kurtcher along with Zuckenberg have invested a total of $ 40 million in Vicarious. This software company is studying artificial intelligence neocortex of the human brain, an integral part of human life that allows us to think, see or even move.
- Google, for instance, is touting its Glass Smart Specs as a new computing platform perched on the end of people’s noses. Two weeks ago the company, which hopes to roll out Glass to the masses this year, unveiled a strategic alliance with Luxottica, the owner of high-end eyewear brands such as Ray-Ban and Oakley. Luxottica will help with the design and development of future iterations of Glass.
In other words, the big players are investing and trying to turn Virtual Reality technology into big money by bringing it to the masses. But how will it impact your business, your marketing strategy, your product and you as a client….
An advanced computer interface that allows humans to become immersed in a computer generated, simulated environment. This immersion can be done through special devices (glasses, headset, a joystick), an enclosed space (projection room), or simply your screen.
Augmented reality (i.e. google maps, geolocalisation) has been one of the starting points of that immersion, which is now moving towards augmented virtuality.
Marketing strategies in small and middle sized enterprises, ever more frequently include virtual reality in their ad concepts, POS material and budgets. It has been discovered that multipurpose, multidimensional environments are very effective. They are in fact, the most involving and most easily distributable media objects ever, because they create a high level of user motivation.
Google’s vision of the future involves overlaying the real world seen through its specs, with information from its search engine and other services.
Facebook’s vision is of people totally immersing themselves in virtual worlds, where they will be able do everything from taking virtual classes together, to communicating with distant friends as if they were standing in the same room.
Virtual sales force, consultants, teachers available 24/7 to assist you in engaging a relationship with your prospect, to help you sell.
We are talking about Virtual Humans here, not only with realistic bodies, clothing and movements, but “avatars” that can also recognise and understand spoken words, and talk back via the latest technologies in computerised speech generation or pre-recorded speech. The technology beyond it is called RVHT (responsive virtual human technology) and assisted among others by Vicarious Inc researchers.
All of this is technically possible and available today.
From logistics to service, the repercussions are visible throughout the value chain.
Sales efforts no longer can afford being relegated to the traditional, expensive and, these days, not very productive methods such as trade shows, phone calls, and distribution of print media or product samples.
New products launch normally require a considerable “time to market”.
Virtual design can provide cost effective (relative to the result) interactive simulations, which allow customers to experience the product while it is still in the design stage and prior to construction of expensive prototypes.
One of the advantages is that the customer’s feedback during the production stage will contribute considerably to the product quality. The customer is unknowingly involved in the product validation process and mirrors the market demands. What more could you want?
The price of implementing VR application may vary from a few hundred to several million Euros depending also on the kind of equipment and media required. (that could be another blog / benchmark article on its own).
However, bare in mind, there are different levels at which to involve and motivate your viewer through a VR application. It can be done progressively on selected products or for special events. The point is to be able to give them at some stage of their customer journey, the opportunity to feel, experience and interact with your product. It will add value to your brand and create the difference.
Remember the “big players” are doing everything they can to make it accessible … The challenge is, to be prepared in providing Mr. Google, and by the same token Mr. Customer, with content in a technology advanced format that is to become his not so “virtual” environment; The next big computing platforms to follow the personal computer and mobile phone…
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