Will VR Fail Again?

By Harry Engels August 29, 2018

Ahead of the publication of Visualise CEO Henry Stuart’s new book, Virtual Reality Marketing, we’re releasing a short article that appears in Chapter One. Due out in October, you can pre-order the book on Amazon here.


Will VR Fail Again?

Looking at VR’s history you would not be blamed for asking if VR will fail again. So what is it about VR now that means it is here to stay? It frequently gets compared to other technologies that ‘didn’t make it’ such as 3D. Well, the timing is right this time around. The convergence of technology, in a big part due to smartphones, has allowed for lightweight, compact components, high-resolution screens, gyroscopes, accelerometers and processor power, all to be packed into VR headsets at an ‘affordable’ price point.

Well, a lot more affordable anyway – to achieve anything like the kind of quality of VR we get from a mobile phone now, in the 1990s you would have needed to be at a university lab containing a computer in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. The ability for the smartphone to drive VR experiences is crucial – right now they are ‘just’ able to do this well enough; as the technology evolves, so will the quality of the experience and the uptake.

All things considered, VR is here to stay, although it is unlikely to have an uptake on the scale of the smartphone. It does not have the kind of immediate applications to daily life that something like AR does, but it does allow you to plug in to incredible experiences that are getting better and better at an increasing speed. From a marketer’s perspective there is an opportunity to bring people experiences they would never have in daily life: Ralph Lauren bringing you to Centre Court at Wimbledon, Audi letting you drive the Nurburgring in their new R8, Peroni putting you in a scene from a 1950s film in Milan. These are all things that, as a consumer, I would love to do and things that are going to connect people more closely to brands and products.

The industry will get a big boost from a few upcoming pieces of technology – ‘inside out’ tracking and augmented reality being key ones. These are vital for the mobile-based side of VR to reach its potential and drive adoption. For VR to truly take off it needs the mobile experience to be as good as the tethered experience is now, and that’s just a matter of time. With the launches of the Oculus Go and the Vive Focus, we are seeing the next generation of untethered VR headsets for the masses.

I would like to also add a point about the frequent comparison of VR to 3D: 3D is an evolution or adaptation of an existing medium – it is a way of viewing 16×9 content with depth. That content is based within a screen that we look at, taking up a relatively small part of our vision. VR is a whole new medium. It is not an evolution of anything else but an entirely new way of consuming content. You are in the content, part of the content, you are immersed somewhere and have power to interact, play, watch and collaborate. We have not even scratched the surface of what is possible in VR.

In Chapter 6 I will go into more detail on how and when I think VR will hit mass adoption. It’s a long road, but we are talking about big changes needed in the way that people consume media and interact with each other. None of that is going to happen overnight.


About the book

Virtual Reality Marketing covers all aspects of the industry, including interactive and passive VR, 360º video, social VR marketing, and the role that influencers and bloggers are set to play in its development. It also looks to the future – exploring how VR is evolving and the changes it will undergo in the future. Having had the privilege of working with some of the biggest brands in the world, the book is packed with interesting case studies, tips and strategies for anyone looking to incorporate VR into their marketing campaigns.

Visualise readers can get 20% off using the code VISUALISE20 when they buy the book from the Kogan Page website here.

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