22nd July 2019

The capabilities of VR. 

The capabilities of VR.

Once again, we returned to TechXLR8 as part of London’s 2019 Tech Week event which continues to connect new technological advances with a generation concerned with the modernisation of business practices. This discussion focuses on the capabilities of VR (Virtual Reality) over AR (Augmented Reality) which we’d explored in the previous post.

Leading the Fire & Rescue Service.

Since 1960 when the first headset was produced, there has been an urge to develop VR software into a modernised product, available across retailers. The first glimpse of VR was seen in the ‘Lawnmower Man’, where it was indeed, shockingly visualised. However, one positive of the Lawnmower Man is that it demonstrated the prospects of VR revitalising the modern entertainment industry, with advances such as VR in 4D cinemas and games like Space Junkie, Star Trek: Bridge Crew and Tetris Effect all using the software. Hence to the majority of people, VR is an alternative platform to play video games on which allows them to be submerged into a virtual environment.

Although, we assume VR to be an enhancement of the gaming experience we seem to forget its wider capabilities. So, who says it can’t serve alternative purposes for other industries, beyond the gaming world? Already the Louvre Museum utilises VR allowing visitors to get close to the Mona Lisa, whilst Sublimotion in Ibiza encourages diners to delve into a ‘digitalised dinner’. Evidently, businesses are using VR in every possible way to entice customers through a new digitalised experience.

However, one particular area where VR now exists is the Fire and Rescue Service which we found to be pretty cool. Through using VR to train new recruits entering the sector, this has made their training far more efficient through:

  • Lowering the amount of time needed
  • Reducing the costs of training
  • Preventing unsafe practices within training
  • Becoming more environmentally friendly

Initially, VR works the same as the previous fire training where a room is set on fire and destroyed, however the room is then digitally mirrored and put into a virtual environment. From this, training can be continuously repeated in the same virtual scene, which can be paused and reviewed whenever, to help assess the training. This enables training to become more accurate and personalised, to each recruit’s personal skills and ability which increases the effectiveness of training.

Already studies prove that VR holds a 75% retention rate from users, over fire talks holding a mere 5% retention span. We shouldn’t be surprised by these figures, due to VR’s association with entertainment which individuals are willing to make time for because they enjoy it. So surely, if you have a dire, repetitive training programme making it as enjoyable as possible with VR, will mean recruits are more willing to engage with the content and learn from it.

Indeed, we found this shift to be pretty cool where VR serves a multi-functional purpose dependent upon the industry it’s placed within. As an agency, VR can offer us an additional route for client projects which could potentially develop a stronger rapport with consumers. Though, our use of VR doesn’t just have to fulfil an entertainment purpose for our clients but a more functional one, which gives their customers an immersive experience. For instance, our SEAT client already uses VR within their ‘test-driving’ experience for customers, which is an area we’d be excited to get involved with and understand how this is more beneficial to the customer.

However, one major hurdle of incorporating VR into our projects is how it can be deployed on a series of platforms. With it requiring a head piece, this only targets those customers who either have a headset or are given one, which can make campaigns particularly costly for all of the audience to view it. Additionally, is sticking a headset on a consumer for a 30 second ad realistic? Where they feel ‘forced’ to watch the campaign without looking anywhere else. The answer is, probably not because 1) consumers don’t want to repeatedly place a VR headset on, every time they see the ad appear and 2) because most people don’t actually look for ads but are reached by them, so they aren’t entirely concerned with fully engaging with all of the ad’s content.

Hence, if we are to use VR it must be proposed in a way which makes the consumer go out of their way to engage with it voluntarily, over being ‘forced’ to interact with it. Not only will this encourage consumers to interact with our client’s communication, but it will be an effective way of measuring how many customers are actively wanting to engage with the brand.


Author: Jack Donaldson.