Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that’s still in its infancy. Which is one reason why savvy marketers are using it now. Because it is so new, VR has the ability to make an impression like no other tech currently available.
How can your brand use VR at your next event to make a splash and improve your brand’s reputation?
Here are a few VR options and examples of companies that are already putting them to use in creative, brand-building ways.
Google Cardboard V2
This cardboard headset is compatible with most Apple and Android phones (screen sizes 3.5 to 6 inches). Users simply need to install the free Google Cardboard app on their smartphones. A chip embedded in the headset automatically launches the app when a phone is attached. The Cardboard Camera app can even transform someone’s smartphone into a VR camera.
Google Cardboard is currently the least expensive VR solution, and companies have used this to their advantage.
In November 2015, The New York Times (NYT) sent over 1 million Sunday home- delivery subscribers Google Cardboard viewers. The reason was The Displaced, a NYT produced VR documentary about children driven from their homes by war. The NYT has since produced two more films, Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart, about exploring the dwarf planet Pluto, and Climbing Spire of 1 WTC, a look at the rebuilt World Trade Center. This new way of storytelling enables the NYT to remain current while showcasing its award-winning reporting.
In Sweden, children who purchase a Happy Meal receive a McDonald’s-branded Google Cardboard as the featured toy. The game included with the headset is Slope Stars, which centers on a Swedish skiing holiday. This giveaway is a trial run by the burger franchise.
Samsung Gear VR
This headset is only compatible with a few Samsung smartphones that fit into a slot located on the side of the headset.
The headset comes with a micro-USB cable that is plugged into a compatible phone. There are currently more than 1,400 games and apps available through the Samsung VR store, Oculus Store, and Google Play Store and many more are being created.
The TOMS flagship store in Venice, California features a virtual reality chair near the shoe section. Utilizing a Samsung Gear VR headset, users are able to experience a giving trip in a remote village in Peru. The tour starts with a drive into the village and ends with grateful children surrounding the viewer. This VR tour lets viewers intimately understand TOMS’ corporate mission.
Not tied to any smartphone, Oculus Rift is maybe the best-known VR option. The unit features a high-resolution display, built-in headphones, a control unit, and a tracking camera on a stand. The unit also ships with an Oculus Touch.
A wide variety of games are currently available for the Oculus Rift.
Lowe’s is using the Oculus Rift to help consumers visualize their plans for home improvement. Users can select the fixtures, appliances, and improvements they desire and fit them into their actual room’s dimensions. They can then make substitutions and compare options. Users also have the option to view their selections at home using Google Cardboard.
In 2014, HBO created a VR experience using the Oculus Rift to promote a new season of Game of Thrones. Viewers entered an elevator that rumbled and blasted cold air to create the feeling of being hoisted up to the top of the 700-foot Wall. Since this experience was limited to those in attendance, in 2016 Facebook (which owns Oculus Rift) provided a VR 360° display of the show’s opening credits that was accessible to a broader audience.
The BoboVR Z4 provides a 120-degree field of view. It works with smartphones that have screen sizes ranging from four-six inches. The phones fit in a hatch located on the front of the headset.
Interestingly, the BoboVR Z4 has an adjustable 35mm lens; so nearsighted users won’t need to wear their glasses. The device comes with built-in headphones and can run the same apps as Google Cardboard.
Google Daydream View
This upscale version of Google Cardboard is made from a light, breathable fabric that fits comfortably over most eyeglasses. It works similar to Cardboard by dropping a compatible smartphone into a slot located on the front of the headset.
Users operate a laser-pointer-like controller to manipulate the virtual world. Only a few phones are currently compatible with Daydream.
Originating as a Kickstarter project and debuting in early 2017, the Fove 0’s headset contains an infrared sensor that tracks wearers’ eyes. This sensor allows the unit to create visuals with an impressive depth of field. Users can navigate and make choices just by focusing on a particular point with their eyes.
The HTC Vive delivers a tracking area that’s about 35 percent larger than the Oculus Rift. It also provides two multifunction track pads with haptic feedback making it possible to “feel” objects in the virtual environment.
The HTC Vive system includes a headset, dual-motion controllers, and two base stations.
The imaginative ways that VR can be used as a marketing and social tool are just beginning. In-home, in-store, socially, at events, VR is unlimited in how an impressive, thought-out presentation can increase awareness about your brand.
For ideas, tech, and support to create a VR splash, call The Trade Group at 800-343-2005.