Worldwide spending on virtual reality and its cousin augmented reality could reach $13.9 billion in 2017, nearly half of that driven by consumers, according to a new forecast by market researcher IDC; and AR and VR hardware, software and services, is expected to hit $143.3 billion in 2020.

VR is finally finding its markets in gaming, advertising and storytelling. Google have attempted to coin the phrase ‘Storyliving’ and produced an ethnographical report called: STORYLIVING: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF HOW AUDIENCES EXPERIENCE VR AND WHAT THAT MEANS FOR JOURNALISTS.

The study revealed possible reasons why VR was alluring for consumers and creators:

  1. A storytelling experience that moves beyond immersion to enable participation.
  2. Use of the medium as a tool to seek out specific emotional states.
  3. The ability to experience a pure sense of presence and embody another entity.

Google dictates that the User can experience a disassociation with their own reality when experiencing VR:

“In fact, the dissociative effect of VR allows it to be a dynamic tool in seeking out a variety of emotional states ranging from whimsy to horror.”

Software developers have also found a positive function of VR is its therapeutic benefits of ‘removing one’s self from reality’, doctor’s who have studied brain waves conclude it does help to reduce stress.

So what’s the potential for brand? Inition, early pioneers of VR and AR said:

“Whereas mobile has the potential to make a brand omnipresent, it is a ‘flat experience’. Immersive technologies, on the other hand, grant a platform for consumers to be ‘in the moment’ in a way that is multi-dimensional and multi-sensorial. They offer high value in the attention and experience economies.

Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) represent a new form of computing – one that is driven by natural controls such as voice and gesture. Just as the PC and then mobile phone radically changed the brand marketing landscape, immersive technologies are here to stay and need long-term strategic investment for effective integration. Real value will come from marrying these technologies with the rest of the organisation’s tools and systems. To get to that point, brands need to understand and experiment – as well as measure return on investment – to find the right path for them.

Such technologies will launch brands on a flight of imagination, to dream and come up with more interactive scenarios. It will push them not only to move beyond the confines of the screen, but to revisit their discourse with customers and consumers – and become innovators again.”

We said in a previous post that nostalgia is a key tool in the power of the brand. Being able to connect with people on this level, wow, what a potential experience for someone like Toys R Us who need to pull themselves back into the game. Everyone remembers the games consoles always setup in the stores as a kid in the 90s and 00s, it generated footfall and an emotional connection with the brand, as well as being THE place for gaming. Toys R Us could setup a VR console in their flagship store and see how it goes, the viral effect with kids through social media would be immense.

VR games are really starting to get cool, even the coolest animated series, Rick and Morty have signed over a licence to make a game:

Big brands are experimenting with VR and AR looking for opportunities to generate more revenue in the future. Businesses have to look at how fast technology moves, VR at its current growth rate, most brands if they don’t engage now, they will have blinked and missed the real opportunities and be late to adopt, and we all know how what happens to businesses that are slow to adopt digital. Industry 4.0 is already well underway including manufacturing, but we’ll leave this for another post – A little taster – the construction industry are really taking Augmented Reality seriously.

The only problem with VR becoming popularised to the average person is the price of the technology: £399 for VR headset tech and the latest PC £1000 or console £400-500 to run the software. Yes, it’s ripe for the picking for commercial projects, but it’s still going to take more time to penetrate peoples homes.

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