Virtual reality sounds like a concept ripped out of a science fiction movie, alongside flying cars and hovering skateboards. However, virtual reality is far closer than either of those two fantastical technologies to becoming an everyday, well, reality for most Americans as a commercial product.
That means that marketers and advertisers are taking its potential seriously. Depending on who you ask, virtual reality marketing could be right around the corner.
In this blog post, we’ll explore virtual and augmented reality, and discuss the marketing and advertising implications presented by both.
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality refers to devices that completely immerse users in a different reality, typically through the use of goggles that entirely cover the eyes, noise-cancelling headphones, and even other mechanisms that map the movements of hands, arms, legs, and feet.
Currently, virtual reality is a niche product, bought by enthusiasts and those in the video gaming world looking for something new. Products like the Oculus Rift promise a more immersive gaming experience, while major companies such as Samsung are rolling out their own virtual reality platforms.
Facebook is getting in on the game, while Google has been experimenting with low-cost platforms that incorporate the smartphone already in consumer’s pockets.
In contrast, augmented reality refers to devices like the Google Glass, which allow people to otherwise navigate the real world, but with information displayed in their field of vision.
After its debut as a consumer product, Google Glass served as a punching bag for late-night comedians, but it’s lived a second life in industry and manufacturing, where it helps workers follow steps and seeing details the naked eye alone can’t glimpse.
Some experts believe Glass was ahead of its time. Much like the MP3 player before the release of the iPod, augmented reality devices might eventually catch on with the right product, at the right time.