I’ve long been a fan of Virtual Reality and have eagerly been waiting to see and experience its applications in everyday life. You can therefore imagine my sheer delight when the BBC announced the launch of a VR service for viewers to experience the 2016 Rio Olympics in immersive 360 degrees style. The Beeb will broadcast around 100 hours of live events and highlights packages throughout the 16-day event, offering viewers at home a completely new viewing experience.
Viewers will have to download a new BBC Sport 360 app, which is available on iOS and Android Play and purchase a VR headset, with prices for a cheap cardboard one starting from just a few pounds. A bargain!
With the BBC’s decision to roll out this experimental service, we’re finally seeing VR technology starting to creep into the mainstream. This is a new and exciting time for many creative industries, as the technology will offer opportunities for campaigns and agencies to stand out, especially in PR sector.
A few companies have started capitalising on the technology, especially those in sectors that are inherently suited for the “immersive experience”. For example, Thomas Cook launched the “Try Before You Fly” campaign, allowing prospective customers to experience their destinations virtually before purchasing their holidays. Nvidia invited members of the media to experience their new graphics card by virtually climbing Mount Everest from a London warehouse compete with freezing temperatures, wind and fake snow!
Sure, live VR technology is still expensive (think tens of thousands of pounds for a few minutes of video) but 360° photos are already here and you can create them with a smartphone and the right app. Facebook already allows users to post 360° pictures, with important opportunities for certain sectors. Property developers could show you around a house with the help of a VR headset and a 360° picture without the need to leave your home. You could have a virtual look around a venue to assert its suitability for an event before deciding whether it’s worth viewing it in person or not.
The possibilities we see here are endless and I’m sure these will be very exciting times for PR agencies and the wider creative industry alike.