Shared VR

Moving Beyond the Solitude of VR

At the beginning of 2017 Virtual Reality technology (VR) was arguably the biggest trend to hit the experiential scene and it certainly created some unique and mind-blowing experiences.

But does the sudden surge in the use of VR technology mean we are in danger of losing one of the core values aligned with brand experiences – its potential to bring people together through shared experience?

John Patrick Pullen a technology writer at TIME said of his experience of VR, “More than anything, I wished my wife could have been there to share the experience.”

He has a point. No matter how visceral and all-encompassing a VR concept, it remains almost impossible to describe the experience in any meaningful way to somebody else.

As a result, brands including Samsung, Google, Facebook and HTC are all in the process of developing shared VR platforms so that consumers can enjoy the same virtual experience which will deliver more impactful brand benefits.

Instead of going it alone, consumers will be part of the same emotional experience simultaneously. With the introduction of shared VR experiences, entertainment and gaming experiential activity could really benefit from this.

For example, the consumers attending these events could build more of an emotional connection with VR content as they aren’t experiencing it alone but with each other as a community. In addition, the gaming industry is comprised of different competitive computerised experiences that could be considerably more immersive, bringing this content to life more than ever before.

The progress towards shared VR experiences is rapid with a virtual reality version of YouTube due on-stream soon that will incorporate shared rooms enabling people to view 360-degree films together as part of a larger expansion of Google’s Daydream VR platform.

YouTube VR product lead Erin Teague calls this a “co-watching experience” that will provide the small groups of people with the opportunity to enter a viewing session and discuss the experience with each other via voice chat.

These developments are by no means a niche sideshow. By 2018 estimates suggest the total number of active VR users worldwide will be 171 million.

The challenge to brands beyond those technology providers is to begin to consider what role they will be playing in the virtual lives of consumers whose VR worlds are not only expanding but becoming more interconnected.

It becomes as vital for brands to keep up with consumers’ demands in the virtual space as it does for them to continue to cater to their real-world requirements.

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