Virtual Reality is finally delivering on its promise of enabling immersive customer experiences and provides an opportunity for customers to engage with a product, service or place without  physically being there. With the advent of Google cardboard, and upcoming releases from Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, there will also be significantly more consumer interest in the area over the coming months.

Virtual and augmented reality will require a rethink of online storytelling techniques. Many notable brands are now introducing these elements in flagship stores where the experience can be predominantly about storytelling and less about commerce. Here are some recent practical applications of virtual reality for brands:


Oakley


In an experiential brand activation, Oakley has built a sunglasses case that lets you see through the eyes of a pro athlete. After purchasing the sunglasses, customers can reuse the box by turning it into a Google cardboard VR device to see Oakley athletes showcasing extreme sports. The campaign allows customers to watch from the wave, the mountain, the dirt, from mid-air or the sky as athletes compete in extreme events.


Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD)


SCAD is providing thousands of potential students the opportunity to take virtual tours of its campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong and France. SCAD distributed 10,000 pairs of the  specially designed cardboard goggles to potential and current students. Eventually the tools are planned to be used to facilitate participation in virtual events at remote campuses.


Ted Baker


Ted Baker’s recently refurbished Regent Street store was the scene for a virtual reality treasure hunt to celebrate the store opening. The experience allowed customers to virtually dash around some of London’s most iconic locations.
 


Content Creation


As usual, it’s not just about the technology, the right creative content approach is required. Virtual reality content creation once required significant custom hardware and software. This is no longer the case with Google recently demonstrating the Jump camera rig (see below) which comprises 16 GoPro cameras in a circular array. The size and arrangement of the cameras is designed to work with the corresponding Jump software to transform 16 separate pieces of video into stereoscopic virtual reality video. The final videos are super high resolution - equivalent to five 4K TVs and shortly YouTube will provide the perfect distribution medium for Jump videos, allowing immersive VR content to be streamed directly to smartphones.  


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