As a kid, I remember walking into an arcade and seeing my first virtual reality gaming machine. This incredibly massive machine was the product of an engineer’s dream to bring a virtualized world into our seemingly boring existence. For the next five minutes, I experienced a gamut of emotions – happiness, anxiety, excitement, trepidation – along with a twinge of motion sickness.
The concept was intriguing, but the execution was not ready for prime time. Virtual reality persisted over the following couple decades, but it wasn’t until 2015 that some of the world’s best engineers refocused their attention on Virtual Reality.
Technology has evolved exponentially over the past few decades and we are no longer constrained by sub-par optics or processing power. We are now living in societies dominated by virtual worlds and platforms. Thanks to these advancements, we are now able to carry a pocket sized computer (i.e. a cell phone) that is capable of projecting a virtual environment through a VR headset, or just augmenting the world around us.
Companies like Oculus are manufacturing components that take VR to a new level by providing additional peripherals that completely immerse the user.
Today, Augmented and Virtual (AR/VR) realities are opening up a whole new world of career enhancement and training opportunities. AR/VR is being utilized in industries such as medicine, aviation, psychiatry, and architecture.
One of the most common questions asked of technologists is how VR and AR can be utilized to increase brand awareness and development. The answer is somewhat obvious if you are in the TV industry and striving to provide a complete viewing experience. However, that answer is not so apparent if you are a packaged good brand looking to create an environment where consumers can cook virtual macaroni and cheese.
For advertising applications, VR/AR privies parallels between traditional and this experiential.
Via virtual ‘billboards,’ consumers can interact the brand. Baseball is perhaps the best current example of Augmented Reality. When you are watching a televised MLB game, the advertisement that you see behind the batter is not actually visible to the people sitting in the stadium. And because that advertisement is ‘added in’, the ad can be modified depending on which network is distributing the game.
For anything to be more immersive, the Virtual Reality software would have to incorporate some type of ID system that would allow for secure payments and pre-populated shipping information for physical products. The main players in this space right now, most notably Facebook with their Oculus, will most likely make sure this happens.
When you started reading this article about VR and AR, you were possibly expecting Minority Report-like interfaces. Those are still a few years out; hologram technology is still too expensive and there have been several setbacks with the implementation of RFID (the ability to identify users as they’re walking by).
As with most developing technologies, we don’t yet know what the ‘killer’ use of VR and AR will be. However, big proponents are surmising that we will spend hours upon hours there, as if it is a MMORPG or a proxy world that would allow us to interact with our families remotely. However, the worry is that people might tire of the technology before it has the chance to be fully developed. We saw this happen with the quick flash – followed by the even quicker fade – of 3D televisions. Further substantiation of this concern can be found when noting that although 3D glasses have been around since the 1950’s, people still consider them ‘gimmicky’.