Is virtual reality the next big thing in entertainment? It’s a topic that was covered at our recent Interactive Entertainment Summit, where participants were cautious about the potential for growth.
A lighter, wireless, cheap but powerful headset could make all the difference. But while we wait for such game changing hardware to come along, developers are working on some pretty amazing applications for the technology — and not just in the entertainment field.
Virtual reality holds promise for health applications, as wearable technology site Wareable reports.
Something that could help sufferers combat panic attacks is a VR game called Deep, which is controlled by your breathing. The game uses an Oculus Rift VR headset and a sensor that wraps around your diaphragm, putting the user into a fully immersive sci-fi world. While in the game, you look around with your head — but to move, you have to breathe slowly and deeply.
Owen Harris, the game’s designer, told Wareable: “We have had a staggering amount of interest. We are on track to have the first therapeutic installation within the next six months.”
The retail sector also has much to gain from virtual reality, for example by allowing online customers to truly visualise how an item of clothing will look.
Stefan Pernar, founder of software company Virtual Reality Ventures, told TechRadar that visualisation technology could help stamp out the practice of “showrooming” whereby customers visit a bricks and mortar retail store to research products they want to buy, but then go online to buy the item.
“Virtual reality has the potential to combine incredible retail experiences with the comfort and price advantage of online shopping,” Pernar explained. “There’s endless potential in creating virtual reality retail spaces that would be too costly or outright impossible in physical reality.”
Jeremy White, product editor at Wired, picked virtual reality as one of five key developments that smart marketers need to grasp in order to reach consumers in the months and years ahead.
In an article for Think with Google, White highlighted the crowdsourcing success of VR headset startup Oculus, which reached 947% of its goal after launching on Kickstarter in 2012.
He described virtual reality as “a significant development that should be on every marketing team’s radar”.
“From Google Cardboard to HTC Vive, VR is only set to proliferate as we move forward. This is not just about gaming. It will be about people walking around virtual shopping malls, galleries, events, movies and concerts. The opportunity to market to and reach your consumer in the virtual world will be absolutely phenomenal,” White said.
Find out how healthcare institutions are using virtual reality gaming and wearables to help patients deal with mental health problems at our digital health innovation and networking event.