Top 5 totally unreal virtual reality campaigns
We’ve already looked at the cutting edge of augmented reality, projection mapping, dronevertising, and contactless technology, but there’s one current marketing tool that seems to be even more on the fringes of science fiction than all of these; virtual reality (VR).
Morpheus in the first of the Matrix movies said, “What is real? How do you define real? If you're talking about what you can hear, what you can smell, taste and feel, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” We’re already in an age when brands are able to fool our senses using the latest VR devices.
From 2016 onwards, virtual reality is going to become widely available to consumers with the commercial launches of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive and, the fittingly named, Project Morpheus from Sony.
In the meantime, brands are already starting to use VR in campaigns and here are our five favourite examples;
Hyundai gave visitors to the World Rally Championship in June 2015 a sensational 4D multi-sensory driving experience. Wearing Oculus Rift glasses, people could see just what it was like to be a co-driver on the track during a race. A motion platform simulated centrifugal forces of up to 0.5g, while specially developed software merged motion and audio data from the 360° race footage.
Marriott Hotels’ travel booth in New York allowed guests to explore the black sand beaches of Hawaii or the top of London's Tower 42. Using Oculus Rift and 4D technology, users experienced 80-degree warmth, the feeling of walking on sand, a gentle sea breeze and ocean mist; all thanks to pneumatic pumps in the floor, misting nozzles in the walls, heat fans, a ‘scent dispenser’ and a 1000-watt amplifier.
Coca-Cola staged a VR experience at its "Casa Coca Cola" for the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup. After entering a replica of the locker room at Brazil's Maracana Stadium and putting on Oculus Rift goggles, participants were transported to the pitch where they could play with the Brazilian team, all without leaving their seat.
At South by Southwest in 2014, HBO set up a virtual reality experience that transported users to the fictional land of Westeros from the hit TV show, Game of Thrones. Anyone wearing the Oculus Rift headset was able to experience what it would feel like to scale The Wall, the several hundred foot ice fortification that appears in the show. With a vibrating floor and fans blowing cool air, the effect of standing on top of a giant block of ice was complete. Apparently it was so realistic that one woman actually feared for her life when she approached the edge!
Given that they are currently the most available device, it’s not surprising that Oculus Rift glasses were also used by Paramount Pictures to launch the film, Interstellar in 2014. First showcased at the South by Southwest event in Texas, it took the VR experience on the road to select IMAX screens across the US and Canada. Visitors were given a virtual tour of the film’s Endurance spacecraft and travelled through zero gravity to get a taste of the movie.
The Oculus Rift headset is due to launch commercially in 2016, which will open up even more possibilities. But there are other contenders out there for the future of VR.
Google Cardboard, the downloadable template for a home-made VR headset, has primarily been devised for developers and, with the launch of Nokia’s VR ozocamera, brands and individuals will be able to create their own 3D content to share. In collaboration with Google, GoPro has also started work on a prototype 360° camera array, so virtual reality certainly isn’t going away.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said in an interview with Wired, “Whatever comes next in the future, whatever great innovations we unlock, if we don't establish a great consumer market and user base around Rift then we're not going to have a runway to use in future. We really need to get a good consumer market going on Rift, which is what we're focused on. We have an exciting research group working on some magical things that are really easy to get caught up talking and dreaming about -- like when [the hardware] is going to be sunglasses-sized or true 3D capture, or teleporting with your friends and talking face-to-face, crossing the uncanny valley – that's going to take a long time to happen.”
There are obvious implications for gaming, but smartglasses with 3D capture opens up the technology for everything from communication and accessing social media, to training surgeons and taking a test drive.
Finally, let’s leave you with this intriguing concept; a Virtual Reality theme park! As futuristic as it may sound, it’s actually already a reality. The Void builds virtual worlds over physical environments so that players can interact with their fantastical surroundings via a head-mounted display, a smart vest that converts sounds into vibrations and special gloves that let them feel without touching.
Never mind what’s next, when it comes to virtual reality, the future is already here!
By Ceri Gravelle, Managing Director at eventeem