Virtual and Augmented Realities - two cutting edge technologies which are inescapable these days. Gaining traction in recent years, tech giants and smaller companies alike are investing millions in VR and AR projects to outbid each other in entertainment, gaming, communications, and of course, brand experiences. VR and AR may share a lot of similarities but they could lead brands down completely different paths. So what's the difference between the two?
Virtual reality immerses us in a version of reality which our brain perceives as real. Through the recreation of a real life environment with the use of a headset, virtual reality creates a simulated world in which the user can't tell the difference between what is real and what isn't. Here's our Client Services Director giving VR a go at Jewson Live 2017...
Augmented reality on the other hand overlays digital images to our physical surroundings, augmenting our current state of presence and allowing us to interact with what we are seeing.
VR and AR certainly complement each other but also contradict each other in many ways. Whilst VR can completely change our perception of our surroundings, AR gives the user greater freedom and more possibilities for brands to communicate key information and commercial value. As it stands brands are investing a lot more in AR as it does not take the user out of the real world completely.
There is a third software-induced reality and that is hyperreality. Although a topic requiring a future in-depth post, hyperreality's intention is to carry VR and AR to the extreme, creating a world where a “lot of what exists is neither objectively true nor subjectively imaginary.” A recent Black Mirror-esque Kickstarter campaign funded short film, explores the potential dangers of a realm where technology envelops every aspect of our lives. It transports the viewer to a dystopian future world where augmented reality is second nature, adding an extreme and increasingly more tyrannical layer to every day life as the narrative continues.
VR and AR have been around for a long time but they have only recently began to emerge as marketing platforms, and with good reason. Consumer interaction and real experiences are front and centre of meaningful brand propositions so there is no doubt smaller companies are beginning to tap into the world of VR and AR.
Consumer buying trends have been swiftly geared towards the use of virtual and augmented reality through the likes of PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, and Oculus Rift. This is because a lot of today's premium VR set-ups are immersive, advanced, comfortable and increasingly affordable. By throwing smartphone VR and AR into the mix, premium technology of this kind has become more approachable and accessible than ever before. Although the VR consumer landscape is only just beginning to bloom, tech and non tech companies are embracing VR and AR as branding and ecommerce tools due to the fact that these technologies are increasingly being transformed into accessible digital mediums. Conglomerates are using 'try before you buy' VR techniques like never before, offering authentic and immersive customer experiences.
With VR and AR's endless dimensions brands are becoming more creative with ways to capture consumer imagination, provide important information in seconds, induce empathy, and entertain whilst creating a mind blowing consumer journey. Basing entire campaigns on VR and AR experiences, brands directly affect consumer buying behaviour by using the power of VR and AR to their full extent. We are at a point in the evolution of technology where companies can employ creativity and powerful mediums to ensure continuous effective storytelling and brand retention techniques.
Huge technology companies are also experimenting with and investing heavily in VR and more so in AR for creative marketing and advertising purposes. As it currently stands, AR is a lot more mainstream than VR and tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple are pouring millions into the development of cutting edge AR app technologies to create powerful augmented experiences.
But we have only scratched the surface when it comes to VR, AR and now HR. We're only seeing a glimpse of what we can achieve and how far we can push the limits of virtual reality, augmented reality and hyperreality.