How virtual reality and a little imagination can differentiate and elevate conventional products and services today.
By Alexander Acker and Jason Fortuna
“Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming.”
– Mark Zuckerberg
Virtual reality is for kids, gamers, and nerds, right? Well, not so much anymore. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are being used to give any vertical or industry a dynamic new edge in creating wow factor to differentiate themselves from the competition— even in financial services.
Companies can harness the power of VR to create differentiation in their products and services more than in traditional flat 2D video. Video today is simply watched whereas 3D virtual video is experienced. VR puts the viewer in the middle of an entirely new dimension, or virtual world, and solicits real emotions. All you need is to define the need, virtual experience, and delivery device.
1. Define the need
To start, define what product or service can benefit from using VR to make it come alive for your audience. Consider the following scenarios:
- Launching a new innovative product or service? VR can bring it to life like nothing else and transport the user into a new dimension to experience it.
- Need to walk a user through a space? VR can put the user right there to experience it.
- Have a complex product or service? VR can show a user exactly how easy it is to utilize and its benefits.
- Have a conference or trade show coming up and need WOW factor to differentiate your offering? VR can deliver.
2. Define the desired virtual experience
Once the need is established, what is the intended virtual experience? Is it a self-playing 360-degree video or an interactive, self-guided experience? Are you walking through a space or interacting with virtual content? Here’s the difference:
- Self-playing 360-degree videos are best used when you want to have a beautiful, fully rendered 360-degree animated environment or if you want to use video captured with a 360-degree camera rig. The stories are pre-determined, meaning the viewer just sits back and enjoys the experience, much like a traditional video or demo, but in a 3D environment.
Generally, these videos have the potential to be as beautifully rendered as a Pixar movie or have cinema-quality video capture with modern post-production effects. 360-degree videos can be created as a stand-alone app or hosted online on sites like YouTube.
- Interactive VR experiences are best used when you’d like the user to interact with objects in the virtual environment. These object buttons can trigger events, such as playing video clips, moving to another part of the VR world, or selecting an item to trigger another internal animation. Interactivity allows the user to be more immersed in an environment and sets the potential for a customized story.
Generally, these experiences are built on the same platforms as many modern mobile games, like Unity or Unreal. Due to the processing limitations of modern mobile devices, interactive VR experiences targeted to lower-end VR devices are usually best created as geometric low-poly meshes with a limited amount of individual objects. These Interactive VR experiences must be created as stand-alone apps downloadable in app stores, like iTunes or Google Play.
3. Define the VR delivery device
Virtual reality experiences need to be viewed with VR headsets. For people who have VR devices like an Oculus Rift or the new Playstation VR device, a link is all they need to view the video or download an app. Alternatively, for the rest of the world, an inexpensive way to distribute a VR experience to a wider audience is through a Google Cardboard viewer.
Google Cardboard is probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to experience and distribute VR experiences to customers. Simply download the VR app, insert your iPhone or Android phone into the device, and enjoy the VR experience.
Production is also relatively inexpensive and you can custom print the viewer itself to promote the product and complement the VR app or 360-degree video.
RELAX AND ENJOY The VR experience
Virtual reality is like nothing else you’ve experienced. The immersive content allows for a more sensory experience where you are able to “feel” the heights, drop-offs, and objects, images, or graphics that fly by. You are able look up, look down, look behind you, and move through a virtual world like never before. VR puts you the user in the center of it all.
The VR experience is the ultimate user experience. Nothing else can compare.
In today’s world, creating differentiation is key and VR can take a customer to a whole new level of sensory creativity. If you are thinking of using VR to differentiate a product or service, let’s talk.