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Immersive Customer Experiences: Consumer Virtual Reality is Here!

Today’s consumer is connected and expects to have their needs met instantly. Virtual Reality allows the consumer to be deeply immersed; giving brands the opportunity to deliver unprecedented levels of engagement with their target audiences.

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What is Virtual Reality and Why Should You Care? 

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s likely you have read or heard of recent Virtual reality developments (having risen from the ashes of its 90s predecessor). Maybe you have even pre-ordered your consumer VR devices, from the likes of HTC, Sony or Oculus.

I’ve been technology savvy for as long as I can remember, and there have been very few situations where tech has left a “wow” feeling in the same way Virtual Reality has. When is the last time you had an experience you couldn’t wait to share or simply relive again and again? Virtual Reality is one of those things that is better understood through experience. The same can be said about its level of engagement.

Analyst firms, such as Gartner or Forrester, to name a few, suggest that customer experience is the competitive battlefield of the future.

According to Gartner, brands should be built around customer experience (CX) and not the other way around. This is where Virtual Reality has a strong advantage where engaging with the consumer and delivering great customer experiences are concerned. Responsible for delivering those experiences is omnichannel. However, there are many obstacles that can prevent you from achieving omnichannel success. Virtual Reality adds to the number of channels and maybe you even consider it as one for your Omnichannel Strategy.

Businesses are already embracing the technology. New uses cases are being created every day. Furthermore, Virtual Reality can also be introduced in existing channels adding value to a point of sale for example. It has the potential of becoming an important element of the informed purchase journey of tomorrow. Let’s have a look at a few use cases.

Areas of Applications and Use cases of VR

Here are a few examples of VR use cases. For a more immersive experience, a VR headset or Google Cardboard (or similar device) is recommended for viewing. If not available, it is suggested that you view some of the examples below from a tablet and/or mobile phone.

Video Games 

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The landscape of the video game industry has evolved tremendously from its classic 70s era. Serving as one of the best initial showcases of modern Virtual Reality technology, video games are naturally engaging experiences and long gone are the days where up, down, left and right are your only movement options. While open world environments games have been available for some time, Virtual Reality ups the ante, positioning the gamers right at the heart of the game and makes it possible for them to interact with life-like environments.
 

Your living room becomes a virtual world and your task: Solve the puzzles by engaging with the environment.

Transport Yourself to the Venue

Want to watch your favorite sports team play their big game, but you don’t have the time nor the means? No problem. Just take your VR headset for a spin and watch the game as if you were there.

Walk on stage and Experience the Lion King on Broadway in 360°.

Travel the World from where you Stand

The world is a big place and the experiences endless. Undecided on what your next destination should be? Unsure whether scuba diving in Australia or gliding on the world’s largest urban zip line in Dubai is your thing? Travel the world from the comfort of your home or visit your local travel agency and visit their virtual reality experiences.

Try Amsterdam in 360° before booking your trip.

Experience Base jumping in Norway’s beautiful landscapes in 360°.

Experience What Can Normally not be Experienced

No matter how hard we try, there are experiences that are hard or that we simply cannot experience in real life. Hang from a flying cargo plane door like your favorite Hollywood star or climb atop the great pyramid of Giza and witness the amazing panoramas. Virtual Reality can make it possible to put yourself in environments and or situations that you couldn’t experience any other way.

Mission Impossible V virtual reality Experience

Preview Experiences

Certain products and services need to be experienced in order to be understood and truly appreciated. Movie trailers are used to create excitement for an upcoming movie, and if successfully crafted, they will create sufficient hype to have you visit a movie theater nearby or buy the Blu-Ray. Virtual Reality can help close the deal in the same way and get your consumers excited about your products and services.

Flying soon? Unsure whether business class will provide your money’s worth? Experience Lufthansa’s business Class in 360°.

Other areas where Virtual Reality use cases are being developed:

  • Sports Spectating                  
  • Big Data Visualization
  • Gaming                             
  • Architecture                            
  • Cinema                          
  • Marketing
  • Industrial Training                      
  • Travel                        
  • Sports Training
  • Social Networking                    
  • Education                       
  • Automotive
  • Shopping                              
  • Manufacturing          
  • Retail

The Age of Engaging and Responsive Data

The time for “lean back” only experiences is over. Today’s consumer is connected and expects to have their needs met instantly: order instantly, pay instantly and obtain their purchases (almost) instantly. Virtual Reality allows the consumer to be deeply immersed; giving brands the opportunity to deliver unprecedented levels of engagement with their target audience.

Beyond the numerous motion sensors integrated in VR goggles, which can detect head movements, or controllers which allow you to interact inside the VR experience, advanced computer vision can event recognize the emotion of people.  A good example of such technology is start-up Emotient, which can assess emotions by reading facial expressions.

How will VR fair? Time will likely tell. It’s exciting to witness the creative uses of VR and discover how far it can push customer experiences.

What are your thoughts on Virtual Reality? Do you think that it will transform how we shop for products and services? Maybe you want to share your favorite Virtual Reality experience. Join the discussion on twitter at @nicholasgoupil

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