Me with a second generation Oculus (things have progressed since then)
Me with a second generation Oculus (things have progressed since then)

VR, what is it all about?

I watched the Matrix when I was young, and I honestly did not get it at all. I never understood what was the fuss all about. I grew up and then re-watched it (and then understood what was the fuss all about 🙂 ). It is a dramatic, Hollywood concept of a Virtual Reality concept on steroids. Recent events have made me think about it more and more though.

If we thought VR is a really far fetched concept, difficult to go mainstream due to the hardware issue, watching TV yesterday made me realise this is really not the case. As I sat watching some really intelligent show like ‘Move to the country’ type of thing 🙂 an ad break came. How interesting that this ad popped up:

It made VR seem like an everyday thing. Yes the hardware is still clunky but the concept – brilliant. The marketing execution as well – get all the demographics. Get a dad in (Baby Boomer) throw in a kid (Gen whatever this is nowadays), get them both to connect with the product easily. Et voila, it makes the product easy, accessible and understandable. The moment a product becomes ‘understandable’ it can become mainstream. It now makes sense, to everyone.

Earth 2.0 maybe?

Virtual reality
I shall be a tree monster in the new digital world 😀

I feel that the big tech companies are just waiting for this ‘mainstream-iness’ to happen in order for them to launch more and more complex VR products. I delivered a presentation at the beginning of this year, talking about VR and its development. Although a lot of people think I am just a crazy digital person (possibly true), one thing cannot be denied – the graphics in VR have gone from pixelated, 2001 games kind of thing, to an almost realistic representation of colour and depth.

Who says that in the next 2-3 years (if that long) Google won’t launch Earth 2.0 in a digital format? One can just plug in, in a scenario they would like, they can choose the country, the weather, the interaction. Is this super complex? Yes probably, but it is totally doable as well.

For years now Google has been taking pictures and mapping this world. Every single corner of it. There is the whole Google 360 photography – we now can zoom in and enter buildings on Google Maps. Without sounding like one of those people ‘The end is near’ – type of thing – I think the world is about to change soon. We will have a physical and digital version of it, and we will be able to live in both.

Virtual Reality for brands:

It will probably start by launching the concept for brands – allow the customer to interact with the product before they buy it. Working in the hospitality industry, I imagine this being the next big craze – try before you buy. Virtual walks through the suites, the view from the window. If other senses are introduced such as touch and smell it would be even better.It has always been difficult to sell a service – service is all about the personal touch. Creating VR scenarios will allow us to digitalize that and  enable customers to experience the service before it even happens.

I strongly believe this is the future. I believe that physical and digital will blend to an extent that 1 would be unrecognisable from the other. Obviously this path leads to a huge social change, and new types of risks and issues. It can resolve issues for people with disability, families living apart, that holiday you were never able to afford and many more. It will create new business models for this world. Companies can now sell a digital and a physical version of their product/service.

However it will also create new problems – we are still made out of a physical shell that needs care and maintenance. Being in a happy digital world, may pose risks to people ‘forgetting’ to unplug and come back to physicality (obviously this bit is still very far ahead in the future). We already have people in Asia collapsing in gaming outlets or at home because they are so consumed by the game they forget to eat and drink.

I am a little bit frightened of this concept. However, as people say – if your plans do not frighten you at least a little bit, then they are not big enough. I look forward to seeing this world, I just hope we, the human race, can manage it and cope with it.

What is real anyway? 🙂

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