What's the distinction between AR and VR? Both technologies are gaining intense interest in their marketing, gaming, brand growth, and entertainment opportunities. Nearly 90 percent of businesses with annual sales of between $100 million and $1 billion now utilize augmented reality or virtual reality technologies, according to recent research by Deloitte. Let's look at the parallels between these two technologies and some recent examples of how marketing, customer service, and brand building are being used to strengthen them.
Virtual reality (VR) immerses individuals, often with a lot of costly hardware such as headsets, in encounters. On the other hand, augmented reality typically begins with a real-life view of something (such as a cell phone's camera) and projects or adds images onto the computer or audience.
The appeal is clear. Both offer a creative way to immerse clients in an environment that is even more stimulating, immersive and intimate. And if you're in ads, the opportunity to show people what it is like to use a product is massive. But the language makes it possible to get confused. What is the distinction between virtual reality and augmented reality, exactly? We're going to break it down for you, and share a few examples.
And what's VR?
The Matrix, a highly successful 1999 film about a deceptively plausible, augmented-reality future that was so indistinguishable from everyday life that the main characters originally assume that the simulation they are in is actual, is heavily colored by most people's idea of virtual reality (VR).
Virtual reality is a simulation of an alternate world or reality created by a computer, and is mostly used in 3D films and video games. Using machines and sensory devices such as headsets and gloves, virtual reality creates simulations to block out the physical world and surround or "immerse" the audience. Virtual reality has also long been used in training, education, and science, apart from games and entertainment.
Today's VR can make people feel like they're walking through a forest or conducting an industrial operation, but to get the experience, usually in games or avant-garde, movie-like "experiences," it almost always needs special equipment such as bulky headsets. And if you've ever attended a VR film festival, you know it always takes a lot of time, commitment, and assistance from the presenters before you ca ca ca. For this purpose, for such items as Walmart employee training, high-end brand experiences, as well as in gaming and high-concept art fields, virtual reality is only just beginning to be used.
What does AR mean? The Most Famous Venues of Augmented Reality and virtual reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is the cousin of VR and allows no pretense of virtual world development. AR is accessed using far more common devices such as cell phones, unlike VR, and it superimposes images such characters on top of video or a camera viewer that are already accessible to most users, making it much more usable for shopping, sports, and movies.
AR combines the physical world with virtual elements created by computers. In reality, these elements are then projected over physical surfaces within the field of vision of people, with the goal of merging the two to improve one another. Augmented reality uses a computer such as a mobile screen or a headset to insert or overlay content into the physical world. Whereas virtual reality replaces what individuals see and feel, it actually adds to augmented reality. VR fully blocks and replaces the field of vision of users, using devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard, while AR projects images in a fixed area in front of them.
Let's look at some recent examples via VR and AR of interesting customer experiences.
Using VR in promotional campaigns: How to use virtual reality for a better experience for consumers
The One for One® initiative was founded by Toms, a shoe company known for its social mission and philanthropy, by donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair of shoes purchased (at 60 million and counting). But it was still a struggle to express the true impact of their purchases to customers. Toms used VR to construct an immersive environment that shared the true sense of its social mission for shoppers in stores. To create a movie called, "A Walk In Their Shoes," they used virtual reality to chronicle the journey of a skateboarder who goes to Colombia to meet the child who receives the free pair of Toms shoes instigated by his purchase.
It's a touching story, shot in a small town in Colombia's streets and alleys, showing how the donated shoes help shield the feet of children from broken glass and garbage. In order to get a better feel for the trip, the 360-degree video allowed viewers on computers and phones to rotate the picture in all directions. It is intense and emotional, the dream of a marketer, and a highly productive use of technology.
IKEA recently launched an immersive VR experience called IKEA Place in a completely different vein, which enables clients to digitally remodel and redecorate their kitchens or living rooms with more than 2,000 furniture pieces. Michael Valdsgaard, the company's Digital Transformation boss, says, "You see the scene as if these objects were real and you can walk around them and communicate with them, even leave the room and come back." Experiencing it is truly magical. Users may communicate with different furniture and other object configurations as if they were actually standing in the rooms. To imagine various combinations, they can edit or adjust the colors and patterns, deciding precisely which looks they want before they purchase.
Automotive firms are also perking up their ears. In order to give car shoppers a completely immersive test drive experience using a smartphone and Google Cardboard headset, Volvo created an entire VR app called Volvo Reality. Volvo Reality puts shoppers in the driver's seat and takes them on a trip across the world, removing the need for shoppers to physically walk into a dealership to experience the XC90 SUV. Other car firms, such as Audi, are following suit, with 1,000 VR showrooms.
A new Diesel marketing campaign for virtual reality may include some startling clues about how to use VR for marketing. Created for the Diesel brand of L'Oréal and titled "The Edge," it provided Diesel's appropriately called "Only the Brave [fragrance] for Men" with a VR experience.
"The physical installation consists of a small, specially configured floor and two walls that provide haptic (touch) sensations to match the 360-degree customer experience created by software that viewers see in their VR headsets: they are up on a narrow, unstable skyscraper ledge that is rapidly crumbling, and they need to inch along the ledge to a window where they can grab the fragrance "Only the Brave They see other buildings everywhere they look, many below them. And software-controlled fans blast wind over the Brave's ears, rendering it an additional ledge-like experience.
Many of these experiences are not inexpensive to introduce, and the fun Saturday-at-the-mall-with-The-Edge of one person is another's nightmare never-in-a-million-years. Such interactions need to be highly targeted at segments that will enjoy, appreciate, and identify with the shops and brands that supply them.
But customization technology, which helps figure out the behavioral trends and desires of consumers, may also play a significant role in targeting the right prospects for costly VR displays.
Customer Data Can Help VR/AR marketing promotions target shoppers
One of the ways to match the customer to the right customer experience—efficiently and effectively—is to use technology such as customer data platforms to develop accurate, complete behavioral profiles. The scary VR promo would be earned by some thrill-seeking clients, while the more risk-averse will get an offer for an incentivized smartphone app. But everyone gets the deals and experiences that they will most definitely enjoy.
Marketing Use of AR: How Virtual Reality Allows Advertisers to Boost Sales
The first mainstream market splash for augmented reality was Pokémon Go, which debuted in 2016. The wildly successful game used location tracking and cameras on its users' smartphones to enable them to visit public landmarks in search of virtual loot and collectible characters, the purpose of which was to catch monsters. The true genius of the game may have been its ability to bring players out of the door and participate in the physical world again, proving to be immensely addictive and a strong force for promotion and add-on revenue from ads.
More recently, Walmart and Lego have offered an app to let customers see how different Lego toys once assembled would look and behave. So you can check the barcode for an unassembled Lego Star Wars toy, for instance, and watch it clash with other toys in the set, and the whole battle looks like it's on the floor of the kiosk right there.
Many other companies create augmented reality technologies, mostly in training applications, such as aviation, transportation, healthcare, and tourism, to name a few.
Companies are always searching for fresh and innovative approaches to attract customers, and AR and VR are proving to be effective tools for storytelling, product visualization, and user interaction, along with personalization technologies such as CDPs. The use of these marketing innovations is still in its infancy and they are looking for groundbreaking advances in 2020 and beyond, considering their immense potential. For augmented reality and virtual reality, these developments signal an exciting time, with the potential for AR and VR to become an exciting part of many customer journeys.