VR or Virtual Reality is heating up fast and getting ready to take off. Here’s your primer.
Wow. Spend a day researching the emerging virtual reality (“VR”) space and the quantity – and disparity – of information will make your head spin. Nonetheless, if you’re a gamer, hardware manufacturer, coder, agency or brand, you’ve got to be paying attention to what the Wall Street Journal predicts will be a $80B business by 2025, with the possibility of an “accelerated uptake” to $182B during the same period.
Virtual reality (“VR”) gets beyond the 2D screen to immerse users in an imagined environment, much like a movie or a video game. However, instead of displaying content in a single on-screen view, VR uses two screens placed a few inches apart, creating the appearance of depth. This is combined with a motion sensor effect that can detect the direction the user is facing. Utilized in conjunction with 3D content, it serves to create a truly immersive experience.
Currently, IDC reports that VR and AR (Augmented Reality – a story for a different blog post) hardware revenue will top $2 billion globally in 2016, with approximately 400,000 headsets in market (although we note that other reports state that over 5MM Google Cardboard units have been shipped). This effectively represents an infancy stage in which the purchase of headsets and the creation of great content will need to grow exponentially for the industry to reach the lofty projections.
The good news – both will, and in our view, for three main reasons:
- Headsets range from the ridiculously cheap (Google Cardboard version sell for $10) to the expensive and fabulous, such as HTC’s Vive at about $800, with Facebook, Playstation, Samsung and other offerings in between. With the range of options and pricing, VR is, and will only become more, affordable for the masses.
- VR works with Mobile. Currently, mobile is best for simple VR experiences primarily due to data bandwidth requirements and latency issues, while richer experiences require more powerful desktop hardware. As networks continue to push towards 5G to deliver the “Internet of Things”, mobile will make VR content creation and consumption more ubiquitous.
- The content opportunities are just too good. If you’re an NBA fan, you might know that the Golden State Warriors just lured superstar Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma Thunder, in part by giving his a VR headset with an immersive experience of what life would be like in San Francisco and at the team’s practice facilities, locker room, and arena – replete with a custom soundtrack by Drake. If you’ve got kids (or plan to), you’ll want to know that the San Francisco Unified School District and Polk County Public Schools in Florida (Florida – whoop! whoop!) are the first to use Nearpod VR virtual reality lesson plans. According to Fortune, the schools are using Google Cardboards so that “teachers can send classes on over 25 virtual field trip lessons that will offer first-person tours of the ancient pyramids of Egypt, the caves on Easter Island, the marine biomes of the Great Barrier Reef, Mars, patriotic landmarks across the U.S., and the tallest buildings in the world in Dubai.”
And if you’re a brand?
The possibilities are endless. From virtual vacation tours (a fat hint to our hotel and resort clients) to new VR digital advertising mediums (check out Advrtas) to VR social and gaming experiences, it’s about to be game on. It might not be the year of VR, but certainly that time is coming.
So here are the questions you should be asking your bad brand self:
- Do I have a target prospect or customer segment that aligns well with an innovative, early-adopter approach?
- Is there a value proposition for me to distribute a headset (such as a $10 Google Cardboard) to a portion of that segment to encourage content consumption?
- What kind of branded experiences resonate with my audiences and how could 3D and VR build on that?
Who should I call to help me figure this out?Don’t worry, just firstname.lastname@example.org/staging