Virtual Reality? Augmented Reality? I ’ m Really Confused
You have to admit that the video of a whale in a gymnasium is pretty impressive. We’ll talk about this video and its creators a bit later in this report. For now, even if you know nothing about Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR), admit it, you are impressed, as you should be. But that video alone doesn’t answer the question about what VR and AR are or why you should be interested in them from a marketing perspective- we’re going to learn what AR and VR are, how they work and how one might use them in a dynamic marketing plan. Then we are going to explore what is coming in the very near future and what these future developments mean to your marketing as a whole strategy.
A bit of a primer to help you see why reading this report and understanding this new technology is vital to the long term success of your company.
In a nutshell, these AR and VR technologies are what the next generation of consumers will view as natives. If your Ideal Client is between 18 and 34 you must realize that anyone in the 7th grade today will be your client in 5 short years. This generation is so new sociologists just named them- “Generation Z.” This Gen Z is anxiously awaiting this technology, albeit augmented or virtual reality. Connecting with the Gen Z consumers will require that your company really connects with this generation in their virtual and augmented (native) realities.
What’s the Reality?
What is Augmented Reality?
We have all heard and most of us seen some form of VR and AR, even if we didn’t know that’s what it was. Are you totally confused yet? Let me demystify this just a bit for you.
Augmented reality embeds digital information into real-world contexts. Virtual reality creates digital contexts that behave in ways that mimic real-world analogues.
Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend it with contents in the real world. With AR, users are able to interact with virtual contents in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two.
In brief, think of them in these analogies; Augmented Reality is like having a Heads Up Display (HUD) in front of your eyes. Pilots had it first and now cars like Cadillac, Buick and BMW have this technology available to consumers. One of the first portable consumer HUD devices was Google Glass. Many believe Google Glass has died, not true- it has simply gone dormant in Google’s labs awaiting for other technologies and societal prejudices to catch-up.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is all about the creation of a cybernetic world that users can interact with. This virtual world is designed to make it difficult for users to tell the difference between what is real and what is computer-generated. One limiting factor and major difference between AR and VR is the latter requires the use of some sort of eyeware- VR helmet or goggles similar to the high end, Oculus Rift ($699.99) and low-cost Cardboard headsets ($3.99).
Other Difference and similarities
Both virtual and augmented reality are similar in the goal of immersing the user, though both systems do this in different ways. With AR, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. With VR, the user is isolated from the real world while immersed in a cybernetic world that is completely fabricated. Currently, VR designers are focusing on video games and social networking in a virtual environment, such as Second Life, and Xbox.
How can Marketers use these new tools?
In July 2014 AdAge announced:
Even the big guys are a bit hesitant to test out new technology, check-out what Coke-Cola and McDonald’s are doing.
IKEA is about to shock you, as I was, when I saw that Ikea Catalogs are actually available as an AR app. For the most part it is the IKEA print catalog so you can go searching and sifting through various items they have on sale. However, one feature in this app is the ability to superimpose the various furniture pieces you want into a living room setting to see how it would look. You can also scan physical copies of the IKEA catalog to search for it in the app. It’s coming, more large stores will have stuff like this.
Yes, much like IKEA, Yelp has some AR features built in that many of you don’t even know exist. Under the settings you can access a feature called Yelp Monocle. Using Monocle, you can see where things are located from your proximal location, such as restaurants. It’s not a huge feature but definitely one of the more interesting uses of AR in an app and a great way to find stuff that is literally within a stone’s throw of you.
Niantic’s first product, published in 2012, was Field Trip, a location-based Android app. Its purpose was to enhance one’s travel experience through the use of Augmented Reality. Niantic Labs was quickly bought by Google. Seeing the potential Google began development on a AR-based game later to be known as Ingress. Ingress has become the most successful AR game in history with over 16 million downloads to date.
What I Learned From “Field Trip”
When you visit a specific location, Field Trip automatically pushes information relevant to that locale to your smartphone. Niantic Labs developed a voice guidance tool to make the experience less intrusive for things like guided city tours.
Imagine if you will, you’re walking along the freedom trail in Boston and a pop-up invited you to visit Paul Revere’s house. When you look at the screen you also see that there is a gift shop and luncheonette on the way. That’s how it all began, with a whimper, not a bang. No one really embraced Field Trip. However, Google saw potential. That potential would later be called Ingress.
“Ingress” is an AR experience, which was born by taking advantage of the things learned from Field Trip. Ingress currently has over 16 million downloads and is played on every continent on the planet.
Niantic Labs has leveraged what they have learned from both Field Trip and Ingress into one of several new products.
Earlier this week, we got an unofficial glimpse at Pokémon Go — the next in a lineup of upcoming augmented reality mobile games. The Nintendo Company, developers of the original Pokémon, has released some official new details and screenshots to give a better idea of how the game will look and play. To the uninitiated, the new images don’t look much different from the Nintendo video game. These images are 3D versions of characters like Squirtle which appear superimposed on real backdrops, and a map that looks similar to Google Street View but with a Pokémon overlay.
4. What are you doing to prepare to market to them? If you or your marketing team are just feeling comfortable with Pinterest and Instagram, if your considering how to include Snapchat, you are way behind the power curve. Read on to see how you can catch-up.
As for how the game will play, the developer says that you’ll be able to find certain Pokémon in specific locations, and it all depends on their type. So if you want a water Pokémon like Squirtle, you’ll need to head to a lake or river in the real world to find it. When you do get close to a creature your phone will vibrate, and you’ll then be able to toss a Pokéball at them using your device’s touchscreen. You’ll also be able to get Pokémon by collecting eggs, which will hatch after you walk a certain distance. Just like in the main Pokémon games, you’ll earn experience as you play, and as you reach higher levels you’ll be able to capture more powerful Pokémon.
There’s also a multiplayer element: you’ll be able to join up with one of three teams, and then engage in gym battles with other players. You can assign a single Pokémon to a gym, and your team is essentially trying to capture territory by being in control of multiple gyms.
All this to get to the real point- How will you be able to leverage Pokémon for your business? Just like with the original Pokémon, you’ll only be able to find familiar Pokémon locations — like stores to buy Pokéballs and gyms for battling — by heading to corresponding locations in the real world.
Ingress has had sponsored game components for some time. On June 25th there were 9 Aegis Nova game events held in 8 countries worldwide. The events last approximately 4-5 hours including 3-4 hours of walking/biking, gameplay and a two-hour social meetup at the end.
The Pokémon Company notes that the game is still in development. Right now, Pokémon Go doesn’t have a release date however I have a reliable source that tells me to look for something after the 4th of July 2016. That is when you can expect to play it on both iOS and Android.
The release of Pokémon Go is expected to be the single largest game release in history. To date, the promotional video for Pokémon Go has nearly 26 million YouTube views
Hypothetically, what would this look like in your marketing plan? Let’s say you are ABC service company offering insurance to consumers. You might approach Niantic Labs to strike a promotional deal with them to make all of your storefront locations a Pokemon store. You would have to work with the developers on just how to integrate your service into the game. This is, according to the creative Director at Niantic Labs, a must to maintain the games integrity. So the item you have agreed upon is called a “shell.” And the only way a Pokemon player can get this shell is by physically visiting your storefront. This means increased foot traffic. Now as part of the overall Pokemon plan you will need to develop an in-store promotion to get the players to interact with your sales team in the real world.
So, back to the video of the whale. Who is Magic Leap and what are they doing?
Children in a gym are witnessing an incredible scene. A whale will jump in front of their eyes! Of course it’s not real, did I need to specify? This is a demo of the company Magic Leap specializing in mixed reality (a mixture of reality and computer graphics). With special glasses, Magic Leap is able to overlay digital objects on reality. In the video, it’s not a hologram, children do not see the whale. We are able to see because the camera was placed behind the glasses.
Magic Leap is being funded to the tune of nearly $1.4 billion in just 24 months. Who’s making such a huge investment in this mystery technology? Venture capitalist, Google, Alibaba, Qualcomm and Warner Bros. All this cash will be used to advance the product development and commercialization of its proprietary human computing interface technology, known as Cinematic Reality™.
“Magic Leapʼs mission is to develop and commercialize what we believe will be the most natural and human-friendly wearable computing interface in the world. What is remarkable is how well the human body and mind respond when technology respects biology, so truly magical experiences become possible. In this new world of the intimate relationship between computing and human sensory systems, Magic Leap is bending its proprietary technology to meet the very human needs of our future users and co-creators,” said Rony Abovitz, President, CEO & Founder of Magic Leap, Inc. “Our technology exists to unlock the creative spark found in all of us.”
“Here at Magic Leap we are creating a new world where digital and physical realities seamlessly blend together to enable amazing new experiences. This investment will accelerate bringing our new Mixed Reality Lightfield™ experience to everyone,” said Rony Abovitz, Founder, President, and CEO of Magic Leap, Inc. “We are excited to welcome Alibaba as a strategic partner to help introduce Magic Leap’s breakthrough products to the over 400 million people on Alibaba’s platforms.”
“We invest in forward-thinking, innovative companies like Magic Leap that are developing leading products and technologies,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman at Alibaba. “We believe Alibaba can both provide support to and learn from such a partner, and we look forward to working with the Magic Leap team.”