This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were barely more than science fiction a few years ago. Some of us may recall the many ups and downs of Google Glass: Augmented reality headsets that offered a personal heads-up display and voice recognition software (and much controversy—if not outright mocking—across the digital space). These devices have been off the market for over a year, but their impact was not forgotten. Google Glass aside, AR and VR are proving to be more than just “shiny new trends,” and might just be coming to a business near you in the very near future.
If you plan on keeping your eyes peeled for AR and VR, know that most of the first big leaps will happen on mobile platforms. Home gaming systems will lead the charge in developing the technology and advancing its software, but the convenience and accessibility of mobile platforms will likely become a business necessity. As corporations push to integrate AR and VR into their marketing strategies, mobility will remain critical.
Gaming Cleared the Way
In the late eighties, video games began to creep into the home (well, some of you might have had a Pong console prior to that, but most folks went to the arcade to play PacMan or Space Invaders). Nintendo drove this “home based” change in 1985 with the Nintendo Entertainment System, and over the next thirty years, the industry exploded. And, as the true innovators that gaming developers are, VR and AR is already part of this mix. Sony has developed PlayStation VR, a system (set for release later in 2016) that allows gamers to experience full immersion in a game space. And then there’s Pokemon: The Japanese franchise dominated the market in the mid-90s, and Pokémon GO, an AR mobile game already considered one of the most anticipated releases of the year will allow players to “travel” between the real world and the virtual world of Pokémon. Video games and their explosion in popularity transformed gaming from a niche “basement” sector into the most profitable entertainment platform in the world—the worldwide gaming market is expected to surpass $107 billion dollars by 2017, and virtual and augmented reality will likely play an incredibly large part in this expansion.
Businesses are always looking for ways to relate to their customer base and maintain an edge over the competition. Companies will begin offering more detailed marketing that allows their potential consumers to experience products and services through AR or VR—and these experiences will happen with the smartphones in our pockets.
“Gamification” is a practice that uses game mechanics and design techniques to deliver an engaging experience in a non-gaming context, such as a rewards program that runs through an app and incentivizes users with perks for performing certain actions or making purchases. VR and AR will play a huge role in this type of marketing initiative, as it can allow potential customers to experience a product or service as if it were real. This will likely give users more faith in the buying process, but it opens up a whole new world for brand development and building consumer loyalty.
Life Altering Possibilities
It’s not just sales and marketing that can capitalize on this new technology. Amnesty International recently used a virtual reality campaign to encourage donations, and allowed potential donors to see the result of attacks in Syria with a virtual tour of the effects of the recent barrel bombing campaigns. Virtual reality is also changing healthcare in myriad ways: To help soldiers suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to help burn victims suffering from chronic pain (using distraction therapy via virtual reality), and to train surgeons—just to name a few.
The total immersion offered by these headsets is made possible via the technology behind them—improved video, audio, and processing power—and mobile platforms will become a mainstay of the virtual reality boom. Let’s face it, the smartphones we carry around in our pockets are more powerful than the computers used to help us land on the moon, and their potential hasn’t been fully unlocked.
Prepare Your Business for Tomorrow
The warm and fuzzies aside, mobile technology continues to grow, and each new trend is absorbed into the mobile experience. AR and VR are no exceptions, as they will provide an entirely new angle to marketing and advertising that will allow businesses to connect with customers in more immersive, authentic, and fun ways. New innovations become possible with each advance in technology, and AR and VR look like they will be the next big jump.
Additional Resources on this Topic:
How Virtual Reality Could Transform Your Business
Is Virtual Reality Finally Ready for Business Use?
Inside the Race to Dominate the $4 Billion Virtual Reality Business
Virtual Reality Training Helps Troops Prepare for High-Risk Situations
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photo credit: Octavian testing oculus rift // TEDxAmsterdamED Amsterdam via photopin (license)
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