By Victor Paan
More than ever before, virtual reality (VR) is now capturing our imaginations and transforming everything from everyday experiences to industrial design processes — and smart brands are sitting up and paying attention. Although it’s not necessarily a new innovation, recent advancements have made VR more immersive and affordable.
We believe that well-executed VR has enormous potential to enhance events, build brand loyalty through immersive content, and make virtual experiences as powerful as real-life ones.
So, what is VR exactly?
In its most basic form, VR seeks to create the illusion of being somewhere we physically are not. You might recall experiencing early attempts at VR when you were a child playing with your beloved View-Master toy or looking through rudimentary stereoscopic viewers. Both of these examples tried to create the illusion of depth to make the images you were looking at seem real.
Today, modern VR plays off that concept. It uses sophisticated technology to create moving stereoscopic images, which are two images that are slightly offset from each other, to mimic how the human eye sees. When the images are viewed simultaneously through a specialized headset, they appear realistic and immersive because they appear to move and update in real time just like the real world. To experience this, the user may wear specialized accessories that allow them to virtually move, manipulate objects, and explore the digital environment. While augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) rely on many of the same technologies as VR, it’s important to understand they are not the same because the viewer is not completely immersed in the environment — digital content is layered over the real environment around them.
VR in today’s business world
VR is transforming the way individuals participate in events, exhibits, and experiences, as well as the environmental design process. As technology continues to advance and the meetings and events space become more familiar with what VR has to offer, we predict we will be seeing virtual reality used more and more in the following five ways:
Design and venue walk-throughs: Imagine being able to conduct an entire site visit or explore your trade show booth for an upcoming show through the comfort of your own home or office. Design and venue walk-throughs will allow you to explore, manipulate, review, tweak, and approve designs before the first physical piece is built out or you were able to get to that particular venue.
Product demos: Audiences and prospects alike can engage with products that are too complex, large, dangerous, or otherwise impractical to demonstrate using virtual reality. They can interact with and manipulate products to learn more about them in a way that was not possible before this technology.
Original VR content: Instructional or educational films on products or tools can now be told with powerful narratives from the centre of the action that are far more powerful than traditional 2D content. Imagine a video that shows you step by step how to set up a trade show booth or pitch your product to a client.
Live streaming and 360-degree video recording: Looking for ways to engage your virtual attendees during a meeting or event? With VR, you can take your remote audience one step closer to the action with 360-degree videos that amplify your must-see events and make your audiences feel like they are actually there. Now, when the speaker greets your virtual audience, they will feel as though they are truly part of your event community.
Immersive VR environments: The world is your oyster! With virtual reality, you can create interactive worlds full of gamified, engaging content that take your attendees anywhere. For instance, a charitable event trying to raise money for a school oversees can use virtual reality to bring its attendees to that school and show them a glimpse of the impact of their donation.
Event planners, marketers, and product designers now have the unique ability to leverage this technology to make their events more engaging and educational. And by extending the attendee reach to viewers at home through compatible web browsers and apps, VR has never been more accessible or powerful.
About the author
Victor Paan is Director, Digital Services at Freeman Audio Visual Canada, an experiential marketing company that uses the power of technology to make meaningful connections with a multitude of audiences through the production of meetings, conventions, special events and trade shows. For more information, visit www.freemanav-ca.com.