Virtual reality has really come back into the mainstream in the last couple of years. It was a gimmick many years ago. Something that was interesting but a long way from ever having a practical use. Now things are very different.
Major tech companies are competing for the VR crown including Facebook with Oculus Rift and HTC who seem to be the leader right now. There are games and apps available and devices like Google Cardboard allow everyone to try VR on their mobiles at a very affordable cost. Brands are creating some great experiences with McDonalds, Coke and many others testing the channel out.
But it hasn’t gone mainstream yet. As with any new tech, the pricing is quite high at this early stage and the offering is quite limited. If you want to ride a virtual rollercoaster or walk with dinosaurs then you’re in luck but beyond that, the phone apps for the entry level goggles are limited.
It’s also not really a polished experience yet with many people complaining that it can give headaches or uncomfortable vision. And some of the headsets are not comfortable for anything other than very short usage.
The controls are limited and using a console style controller can destroy the immersive feel. And we don’t need to mention the fact that you can look a bit silly with a brick strapped to your face.
So is there potential here or not? Well my view is yes. None of these challenges are insurmountable and I can see some huge opportunities here. The designs can be refined, more apps and games will be developed, controls will evolve, focus and vision will improve. Price points will come down. All of this can and will get better.
I have talked in the past about uses such as spherical browsing but that’s a way off if it does happen as no-one will use a headset to browse the internet yet.
It can however be used for training in fields like medicine, military, sport and many other areas. It can help those with disabilities ‘attend’ events they may never have been able to. Cinemas could offer a pay per view experience for those that can’t make it but want the cinema experience. Brands can produce immersive experiences such as back stage tours. The opportunities really are endless.
Don’t write VR off. In fact, I’d recommend you give it some thought as to whether there is an opportunity here. Brainstorm some innovative uses and be ready. As with any new tech it’s often the large brands that test it first and the others follow. If it doesn’t take off then no harm in being prepared. If it does you might just be able to gain some competitive advantage.
In the meantime why not get a Google Cardboard or similar product and test it out.
For advice on your overall digital strategy you can buy my best selling book, Digital Marketing Strategy.
Note: I’m not recommending any of these products and I’m not paid to endorse anything.