Proximity will no longer determine who you spend your time with. In this blog I summarize how Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have changed and questioned the very fundamentals of physics and social engagements.
Pace of change in APAC has been fast
Just like Computing changed forever when PC and Laptops were launched, the second wave of disruption was witnessed when Mobile phones came into existence, thereby questioning the need for many product categories like cameras and watches etc.
Smartphones are now silently impacting another area in our lives, Communication. Marrying communication objectives such as immersive engagement, better ROI, higher share of voice, these are just some of the parameters which are likely to be changed forever thanks to the application of AR/VR technology using smartphones.
Consumer-centric communication, for example, checking out a new home before buying it, assessing the impact of medical surgery using VR simulation, driving a car virtually, or checking out a new travel destination before making a purchase decision. These are some of the ways brands have engaged. This is likely to be fast paced thanks to factors like dipping in price points for hardware such as Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, etc. and the coming together of entire new marketplace of applications (both business and consumer).
Pace of change in APAC will get faster
AR and VR are current buzzwords, but they will travel far from here. They will go beyond the “innovation” item on Brands’ wishlists. Here are some ways of how I believe progression for AR and VR is likely to shape up in coming years.
Retail made Virtual
eBay set the trend by launching its e-commerce platform virtually in Australia. The consumer has the ease of seeing things virtually, checking out products and swiping-in payment. Checkout the experience here.
Mobile consumers will be time-starved and hence will be happy to use virtual experiences to see and shop products which they otherwise were dependent on physical store purchases. E-commerce has set the trend and now VR/AR will take it to the net level in a short span of time.
Live Events Made Accessible to More People
With live feed made possible on YouTube, and on social networks such as Facebook, we can expect 360° live streaming happening across many social platforms. This will drive social media engagement in a big way and will change the interaction between C2C and B2C. Events such as the Rock On 2 music concert being streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, and making youth across India swing to Farhan Akhtar singing will be possible soon. The same can be done for IPL cricket matches, Football games, F1 racing tournaments; thereby bringing in a new genre of content for mobile phone apps of all broadcasters.
The challenges of primary education and secondary technical education will be handled using AR and VR. At best, teachers would be virtually available to the remotest of schools and 4G mobile bandwidth will drive reach to these schools. Higher education will no longer be the high pedestal enjoyed by the rich alone. VR will drive reach amongst a larger base thereby ensuring Ivy League universities can reach out far and wide.
Content and Video Entertainment
This space will implode and AR/VR will be used to bring the immersive storytelling to consumers. The Guardian used VR to bring the essence of being in a solitary confinement vide a VR experiment which can be seen here. The purpose of the Media Group was to translate news from just being informing to immersive. Through this experience one could understand how it feels to be in solitary confinement and what emotions prisoners go through. This triggers a debate and helps the newspaper to build a commune of informed and opinionated readers.
AR will drive the screenless future where data and information will conjure in front of your eyes using AR-enabled screens, which will project the necessary information layered on your existing world. The privacy issues of data have been laid to rest by Microsoft HoloLens which makes information more functional. e.g. projecting key performance parameters about your cycle while cycling. Such and many other experiences which are projected and layered along your real world will make the future screenless.
Advertising turns VR
As with any channel, first comes generic content. With video entertainment, education, events, and retail going VR, advertisers are bound to follow the trend.
Advertisers will push the envelope to marry creatives with technology and create content which is gripping and immerses consumers in a make-believe world of the brand.
Experiences such as understanding the journey of a single malt whiskey before you actually take a sip of your favourite whiskey is something which advertisers will lap up as a part of an advertising strategy when interspersed with generic VR content.
Above are, of course, early signs and things should translate fast when the ecosystem of hardware, content, and demand from brands is addressed cohesively. I believe, major push from content aggregators like Facebook/YouTube/online broadcasters will be a key trigger for this ecosystem to take shape.
Like any established medium, we need to see a lot of action from the broadcaster space to help create generic content. This will fuel demand from consumers and hence, brands and generic categories will join the Virtual Reality technology movement.
In summation, the next frontier is when we see high-quality content driving the charge and industry pacing up to deliver on the presence and experience which VR promises to offer.
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