Vir­tual Re­al­ity, the New Fron­tier


With the ever-evolv­ing ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy and the cor­re­spond­ing growth in­ter­est from in­dus­try play­ers, vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) is tak­ing off. Happy Fin­ish, a global cre­ative pro­duc­tion stu­dio and agency of­fers 360 cross plat­form post pro­duc­tion ser­vices and im­mer­sive con­tent ex­pe­ri­ences for lead­ing brands, ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies and pho­tog­ra­phers. The com­pany has al­ready cre­ated in­no­va­tive VR ex­pe­ri­ences for many global brands in­clud­ing, Wal­mart, Sam­sung, Honey­well and Sub­way. Si­mon Gosling, CEO of Happy Fin­ish, spoke at Dubai Lynx to dis­cuss the cre­ative process of VR and how sto­ry­telling is made pos­si­ble with this im­mer­sive tech­nol­ogy, pro­vid­ing a new, ex­cit­ing way for con­sumers to en­gage with their favourite brands.

Vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence has more im­pact on emo­tions and cog­ni­tion than a 2D video.

Gosling af­firms there to be a grow­ing ap­petite for 360-de­gree con­tent - video con­tent cre­ated from mul­ti­ple cam­eras, which is usu­ally done af­ter the video has been recorded. Youtube’s plat­form al­ready sup­ports 360-de­gree videos; how­ever, it is now pre­par­ing to roll out live 360-de­gree video’s ac­ces­si­ble for any viewer to in­ter­act with via a mo­bile or desk­top de­vice. It would work just like any other Youtube video – ex­cept the viewer can watch the con­tent from dif­fer­ent an­gles and view points. Gosling re­it­er­ates the in­creas­ing power of VR. “Face­book brings 360-de­gree videos one step closer with the help of Ocu­lus – the vir­tual re­al­ity com­pany that was bought by Face­book in 2014.” Ac­cord­ing to Gosling, Gold­man Sachs pre­dicts that VR will be big­ger than TV in 10 years.

Google Card­board, their play­ful, smart­phone-based VR plat­form, takes an in­ex­pen­sive card­board con­structed viewer and trans­forms a con­sumer’s ev­ery­day phone into a VR head­set, of­fer­ing a brand new im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. It is the be­lief that Card­board will be the way that Google will make vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ences ac­ces­si­ble to every­one. Gosling ex­plains that the re­ac­tion so far has been very pos­i­tive and im­me­di­ate. As a re­sult, Google has ex­panded its plat­form and hired even more vir­tual re­al­ity mak­ers to join their team.

Gosling fo­cuses upon VR in the con­text of ed­u­ca­tion. Adding fur­ther di­men­sion to the qual­ity of one’s learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Google Ex­pe­di­tions Pi­o­neer Pro­gramme is a vir­tual re­al­ity plat­form that has been built for the class­room. Google worked with teach­ers and con­tent part­ners from around the world to cre­ate more than 100 en­gag­ing jour­neys - mak­ing it easy to im­merse stu­dents in en­tirely new ex­pe­ri­ences. The Ex­pe­di­tions Pi­o­neer Pro­gramme is a de­vice that brings the world to the class­room.

Gosling as­serts that VR is fast be­com­ing an im­por­tant tool for com­pa­nies. He high­lights this point giv­ing the ex­am­ple of Honey­well’s avi­a­tion soft­ware. “This soft­ware makes air travel eas­ier and safer but prior to their use of vir­tual re­al­ity, a life-size fuse­lage was trans­ported for show­case, to demon­strate the value of the prod­uct in re­la­tion to the con­text of the en­vi­ron­ment it was de­signed for (ex­pen­sive and time con­sum­ing). In­tro­duc­ing vir­tual re­al­ity en­abled their con­sumers to learn and un­der­stand the value of the prod­uct through an im­mer­sive, per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence – an in­no­va­tive, cost and time-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion for Honey­well”.

Cre­at­ing new and ex­cit­ing con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ences with VR was most re­cently ex­e­cuted by the Amer­i­can fast food fran­chise, SUB­WAY. Ac­cord­ing to Gosling, the fa­mous chain cre­ated an event film to launch their lat­est edi­tion to their menu, the Beef Pas­trami Melt. A VR head­set was used to trans­port vol­un­teers from a yel­low taxi on the South Bank in Lon­don, to the heart of New York, all whilst tuck­ing into the SUB­WAY’S Beef Pas­trami Melt. The Vir­tual Re­al­ity footage cap­tured shots from the heart of the Big Ap­ple - achieved through the record­ing of footage gath­ered from sev­eral cam­eras po­si­tioned in a New York taxi. Gosling af­firms that such a cam­paign suc­cess­fully played on all the senses to achieve a height­ened level of con­sumer en­gage­ment.

In con­text to the im­por­tance of VR, Gosling aptly quotes the words of the an­cient philoso­pher, Con­fu­cius. “Tell me, and I will for­get, show me, and I may re­mem­ber, in­volve me, and I will un­der­stand.” He con­cludes that the sta­tis­tics prove that more peo­ple will re­mem­ber con­tent pre­sented in VR than sto­ries shared in 2D; vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence has more im­pact on emo­tions and cog­ni­tion than a 2D video. Brands and agen­cies have taken note of the dy­namic na­ture of VR and are recog­nis­ing it as an en­trée into the next gen­er­a­tion of sto­ry­telling medi­ums. It is clear that VR is fast be­com­ing a key asset of the en­ter­tain­ment, in­dus­try, ed­u­ca­tion and health­care.

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