Virtual Reality more than Fun and Games
Virtual Reality (VR) generates images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment, controlled by movement of the user’s body. The user is immersed in a realistic (or artificial) 3D environment, created using interactive software and hardware, which simulates the user's physical movements in this space. The environment is typically depicted on a screen or in goggles (virtual reality headset), with a mobile device slotted into the headset. The user can look in all directions, walk or otherwise move in the space, and sometimes interact with objects in the space. If you’re new to VR, check out explore YouTube’s library of 360 videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzuqhhs6NWbgTzMuM09WKDQ
VR broke through in the gaming world by adding 3D environments that allow you to not just immerse, but really lose yourself, in the interactive space. Games like Valkyrie, Job Simulator, The Climb, The Lab, Fantastic Contraption are just a few of the many popular VR games available.
But virtual reality has a compelling business application too. As a marketing tool, VR powers an expanded promotional reach to the marketplace to entice prospective customers. Companies are moving toward experiential advertising, wanting their customers to be able to see, hear, touch, feel and – maybe one day – smell, their service and product offerings. Virtual reality allows consumers to interact with companies in a way they never have before.
The tourism industry has been an early adopter. Through virtual reality, consumers can “sample” a holiday destination by viewing 360-degree videos of key attractions. Prospective tourists can stroll down a cobblestoned pedestrian shopping zone, enjoy watersports like sailing or snorkelling, or ride on an elephant or a horse. For hoteliers, guests can experience luxurious accommodations and pre-view gardens, beaches and other amenities, prior to booking.
Use of virtual reality can reinvigorate tired travel destinations and draw in new, younger customers as well as appeal to older travellers with a sense of adventure. Brampton’s own PGP Studios (http://pgpstudios.com/) has done video work for Sunwing Royalton Punta Cana and Royalton White Sands Montego Bay, and recently won a VR contract for a Caribbean island tourism department, starting production in April.
Virtual reality has been applied in diverse business areas including rapid prototyping, manufacturing, scientific visualisation, engineering, architectural visualization and education. Corporate training is a burgeoning area for VR, because of the opportunity to offer experimental simulation. Imagine the value to high-risk scenarios like aviation and medical surgery. Its portability and “sharability” through YouTube and Facebook also makes it a very powerful social tool. Just about any type of company can explore the creative opportunities for marketing that VR presents.