2016: The Year of Virtual Reality.
HTC, Oculus, and Sony are all planning to release their consumer headsets making this the most exciting year for virtual reality yet! Our exclusive guide will breakdown everything you need to know about virtual reality applications for business.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality is an innovation in human-computer interaction that is going to make big waves in how we experience the digital world in the coming years – thanks to the combination of a new generation of light inexpensive devices and advances in mobile technology.
Virtual Reality or VR has attracted a lot of attention since Facebook invested $2bn in buying Oculus the maker of a crowd sourced VR head mounted display. Since then Google, Sony, Samsung and Microsoft have made multi-billion investments in this technology and there are several high profile consumer launches expected in H1 2016.
You experience VR using a head mounted display. The headset covers your entire vision totally immersing you in a computer generated 3D world. As you move your head it tracks your movements and updates the display – tricking your brain into thinking you are in a real place.
Today, there are two main types of VR HMDs that are available.
Desktop VR offers the cutting edge in terms of high fidelity VR experiences. The Oculus Rift is the best known of these types of headsets, but competitors are due on the market early next year. They contain an in-built display but rely on an external PC to drive them which is connected via a cable.
The headsets retail for around £250-£300, but you need to factor in the cost of the PC which typically brings the cost up to £1,400. We have these and can hire units to you for special events.
Mobile VR combines regular smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 with special optics to bring the cost and availability VR to the masses. The advantages are both portability and lower cost with the tradeoff being the level fidelity and complexity of the content that can be provided.
Headsets retail for anywhere between £5 and £150 but once you add the mobile phone the overall system cost is nearer £500-£600. Examples include: Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Zeiss One.
Why use VR?
From a brand perspective VR offers the opportunity to make deep more meaningful connections with your audience. It’s already been used by many of the world’s leading brands like Nike, Ikea, Volvo, Redbull to create impactful campaigns.
It solves a number of problems that brands typically have:
- Outreach fails to engage with their customers
- Customers cannot remember their marketing campaigns
- Little or no competitive advantage over their competitors
This is how it solves them:
- Immersive – users wearing a headset are completely immersed in your content meaning fewer distractions and more attention on your message.
- Impactful – the direct nature of VR means the intensity of experience is greater than traditional media generating strong emotions in its users and proven to result in behaviour change.
- Memorable – our brains are built to remember events linked to locations, this means that VR experiences have a much longer trace in the user’s memory.
- Novel – with high media and public interest in VR early adopters can benefit from favourable media exposure for their spend currently.
What is VR used for?
VR has lots of great applications but we feel that the media works best in the following contexts:
Put your audience at the heart of the action. Whether it is test driving a car, flying a jet or playing world class rugby VR is the next best thing to being there. Why not capture your next marketing event in 360 surround video to give others the excitement of a launch event?
Redbull offers VR experiences alongside it’s extreme flying races so fans can experience what it is like to be in the plane
Wear the Rose places the user at the centre of the national rugby team’s training session, commanded by coach Mike Catt
VR can transport you to real or imagined places instantly. Take clients on a virtual walk around an apartment or hotel suite that may not even be built yet, do a tour round your factory or office place. Or why not transport them to a virtual showroom to view your latest products?
Marriott created a 4D sensory ‘Transporter’ that transported guests to a beach in Miami. It toured six cities.
Tommy Hilfiger Store gave their customers a front seat at their fashion runway presentation and could buy any items they liked.
Education & Training
VR is set to revolutionise education allowing students to virtually attend centers of learning, museums and galleries from around the world. In journalism, VR’s ability to see the world through another’s eyes allows for new empathetic possibilities. Research by Stanford University around environmental education showed VR can trigger real behaviour change.
For the United Nations General Assembly delegates were transported to Za’atari refugee camp near the Syria border.
VR allowed children to experience a historical re-enactment of The Apollo 11 mission to the moon and let them feel like what is was to be launched into space.
Entertainment and Gaming
Of course there is no better way to experience entertainment than through virtual reality. The games and movie industries are investing millions to create the next generation of immersive entertainment. The creative possibilities of storytelling is just getting started.
For Game of Thrones, HBO created an experience that allowed users to ascend the wall in famed elevator
The Void are opening up a global network of theme parks in which friends can run around a real environment battling monsters and exploring strange worlds.
Developing for VR
Video vs CGI
There are two approaches to creating VR content.
We can shot video on specially constructed camera rigs that use multiple cameras pointing in different directions. This is then ‘stitched’ together in post-production and effects like 3D can be added. This is played back in a compatible off-the-shelf or custom made viewing app.
We can also use realtime computer graphics (CGI), like those found in video games, to generate interactive content like games, training programs and other bespoke applications. We build an app and then deploy on a PC or mobile, either over the internet for distribution or install it directly on machines to be used in kiosks.
Both approaches have benefits and constraints and we will recommend the best one based on your particular use-case.
Virtual Reality is a new media format and has unique properties over film and traditional computer interaction. At it best VR is a life-changing experience that people won’t forget, however if done badly then it can leave users confused, frustrated or even nauseous. Appropriate considered design is vital in creating a good VR experience and luckily we have extensive experience in this area.
We have talented designers, audio artists, 3D modellers and developers at our fingertips so you’ll get the best results for your campaign.
We expect a large amount of VR headsets to be in the market over the next years. App Stores for devices like Oculus and Samsung Gear VR already exist and apps downloaded and purchased. However given the low number of available units it is still usual for VR to be experienced at events where the necessary equipment is provided. We have a number of headsets and PCs that can be hired for your event.
Project Case Studies
Play Sage Gateshead
“Virtual Reality Transforms an Iconic Concert Hall into an Instrument” –the creators project
Sage Gateshead is a concert venue and also a centre for musical education, located in Gateshead on the south bank of the River Tyne, in the North East of England. It opened in 2004 and is tenanted by the North Music Trust.
We transformed the iconic UK concert hall into a playable 3D instrument in a new app built by in collaboration with Atomhawk Design. Play Sage Gateshead allows users to enter a digitized version of the Sage Gateshead concert venue to bash walls and beating floors to create a percussive music track.
In App Screenshot of Play Sage Gateshead
Play Sage Gateshead was looking for a unique way to celebrate the Sage’s tenth anniversary. They needed something that would differentiate them from other clients and garner a lot of attention for their future performances.
The app had to be adaptable for touch devices, a desktop mouse and virtual reality head-mounted displays.
Working with award-winning art design company Atomhawk we developed a concept where the user can fly around a 3D virtual replica of the Sage creating music whilst producing a stunning visual light-show.
We modelled the building from scratch using floor plans and photos and developed a musical creation application in Unity. We then integrated recordings of the building being played and allowed the user to reconstruct them in an easy to use interface.
This was the first time Sage Gateshead has commissioned this kind of digital project. So we used an agile development process which meant the client felt informed and in-control of the project and also allowed us to be flexible.
This was deployed as a web app, iPhone and Oculus Rift app for PC. Sage Gateshead also ran a special experience weekend in which the public were invited to come to the venue and experience it in virtual reality. This proved highly popular with audiences and gained press coverage in a number of publications. From the success of this the Sage plan to dedicate a separate budget for more of these activities in the next financial year.
The total cost from concept to deployment was £70,000 which included three separate versions of the app and two versions.
“Working on Play Sage Gateshead with Mbryonic has been a real joy for us here at Sage Gateshead. It is a very new form of commission for us and Mrbyonic’s expertise and creative flair has played a central role in bringing it to life.” – Adam Kent, Innovations Manager of Sage Gateshead,
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Sage Gateshead’s 10th birthday than to transform the building into a virtual musical instrument that audiences can play from anywhere in the world.” – Ruth Mackenzie, launch CEO of The Space
“Veil Groundbreaking virtual reality installation…” – crowdedbrain.co.uk
Working with the Arts Council of England and the Barbican we created a fun and imaginative three minute experience on a tight budget. It received awards and a lot of press attention including from the BBC and is still on tour at various galleries and exhibitions.
Europe’s largest arts centre The Barbican was putting on a weekend to showcase upcoming talent from the digital arts world and was looking for exhibits of a high quality. The pieces should be participatory and easy to manage with a high volume of traffic.
Photo of the Veil exhibited at the Herrick Gallery
Collaborating with visual artist Iain Nicholls we co-designed a site specific installation. We were inspired by the works of Diego Velazquez, Casper David Fredrick, Hans Holbein and early pioneers of film.
The installation consists of a plinth on which sits a model house made of cardboard. The plinth houses and hides the necessary technical equipment and is tethered to an Oculus Rift headset.
The public is invited to put on the headset. On doing so they find themselves back in reconstructed exhibition space with the plinth and house exactly where they are in the physical world. However in this alternate reality objects don’t behave as they would in real life.
Through the act of examining the participant can pass between the models interior and exterior. The interiors are worlds in themselves with surreal semi-narrative sequences that the participant can interact with.
Whilst the virtual space can only truly be experienced by the participant, other observers in the gallery can engage with them through a set of images and sounds that relate to their journey. Cameras provide a feedback loop between the real and virtual worlds.
The installation has been featured in the Herrick Gallery Mayfair and selected for Zealous X festival.
We were funded by the arts commission within a budget of £15,000 which included all development and equipment.
“It was surreal, it made me jump. I never experienced anything like that in my life”
“It was quite stunning and a certain moments startling.”
“The 3D is incredible, just felt really immersed”
We offer end-to-end design and development service for your VR needs. This includes consultancy, design, development and deployment. We understand that VR is new for a lot of people and so we are happy to provide friendly advice on how to integrate its use into your brand in a free initial consultation. Contact us at info@mbryonic.
We’ll work to develop a concept and we will devise an amazing experience that your customers will want to talk about to their friends. We advise on costing and look after all aspects of production for you.
Our Competitive Advantage
We are a highly experienced team that have a proven track record in delivering high quality VR and interactive content. We are also a small flexible organisation that keeps our costs low and allows us to provide a tailored personal experience. Mbryonic is based in East London.
Let’s schedule a quick 10 minute call so we can talk about how virtual reality may help your company. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know when works best for you.
Look forward to speaking,