Is it finally time for VR?

Is it finally time for VR?

by Lisa Berry

Posted on May 18, 2020 at 12:39 PM

Virtual reality feels like one of those technologies whose time is always coming.

Marketers and technologists like to claim it’s the next big thing, like ‘voice’ or artificial intelligence. But it’s always some way off, just beyond our horizon of need.

Whereas, if ever there were a time for VR to shine, it’s right now.

With circumstances denying us so many real-world experiences, surely virtual reality can provide a substantive alternative now, and for the foreseeable future?

We think this asks the wrong question of the technology. And that’s a failing on behalf of those who provide and market VR as a channel of communication.

Virtual reality is not about swapping your real world experience for a digital one through a headset, and buyers who approach it from this angle are doomed to disappointment. As good as the simulations may be, we’re not yet at Star Trek Holodeck levels of synthetic environments. Perhaps Hollywood has a lot to answer for when it comes to grossly inflating our expectations?

Where virtual reality is brilliant, is in solving real-world problems that face many of our businesses.

At its best, VR is about delivering solutions and experiences that are either too difficult, too expensive or too complex in the ‘real world’. Below, we’ve laid out three of the core benefits of VR as we see them, together with examples from our real-world client problems:

1. Cost and Risk Reduction

Let’s imagine that you have to move thousands of employees around the country or globe to attend specific training environments. The logistics cost alone can easily dwarf the value of the training. Swap out the environment for a synthetic one, complete with connectivity to other locations, and individuals can now train together for a fraction of the cost, without travelling. The same is true of physical environment training like fire-control, safety or dangerous situations, where real-world costs include the continued use of resources that, once digital, can be replicated repeatedly for limited or no additional cost in a synthesised environment. In short, you can use a virtual fire extinguisher, not a real one each time, as a classic example.

2. Simulating Brand New Environments

What’s it like to sit inside the cockpit of a car or aircraft that only exists as a concept in the mind of the designer? Where should we position the controls for the best ergonomic outcome? Where should we flow in data for the user (pilot, driver, captain, navigator) to understand it most quickly and easily? How can two designers on opposite sides of the world come together and design a product in three-dimensions at scale? How can two engineers assess the fitment of core functions and features inside a complex new vehicle of vessel? And what about ‘war-gaming’ new and emerging challenges in any domain? VR allows us to simulate a scenario and assess responses and actions. If you can imagine it, you can trial it and evaluate how people respond.

3. Increased Focus

One of the most overlooked but substantive benefits of a VR headset is the focus it delivers to the wearer. It removes them from the real world and all the associated distractions and temptations. It puts our user in a tightly controlled audio and visual environment. This gives us a unique opportunity to focus the mind of the user for as long as practical. It means we might even replicate a mundane real-world environment for the benefit of that added concentration. Together with the novelty value still associated with VR, taking this approach has proven to heighten the senses and receptive capacity of the recipient.

It’s important to recognise that VR is not a panacea, but nor is it a frippery. VR is no fidget-spinner or Google glasses. VR is a fundamental tool in effective communication when the circumstances and opportunity align to make it so.

To find out more about VR in a marketing, communications or training context, contact one of our team and we can set you up with a demonstration or discussion according to the problem you’re looking to solve.

And you can find out more about our unique HOST solution here: https://vimeo.com/369527317

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