Coming off the back of CES, the Internet is abuzz with the latest and greatest wearable technology. Google’s Glass and contact lens projects have dominated the news agenda. This is a trend that's going to run and run and the uses become more and more diverse, but one particular type of wearable technology has really caught my attention: next-generation virtual reality headsets and more specifically, Oculus Rift.
Once the technology of science fiction writers and more recently of hard-core gamers, hardware like Oculus Rift is beginning to open up a whole new world of brand experiences and story-telling possibilities for marketers and communicators.
The headset is offered up to developers with a SDK (Software Development Kit) to program, use and experiment as they please for a nominal investment. By adopting this open approach, Oculus VR, the company behind the headset, are cleverly discovering a multitude of new markets for their invention. One of those is telling brand stories with a never-before-possible level of immersion.
This new “screen” (for that's really all the Oculus Rift is, albeit a very clever one) can fuse filmmaking, gaming, computer-generated imagery, and real-world interactivity together like no other. Cautious of hyperbole, I really believe that with this type of technology, the possibilities are almost endless.
Imagine using the technology to demonstrate the layout and interior of a new designer apartment block. No longer do you have to bring prospects to your location, in fact, you don’t even have to build the property before you can start to show people around!
Or, as one of the agencies I work with is currently working on, making the technology the centerpiece of a launch event for a new vehicle. Want to look around the inside and outside of a vehicle that doesn’t exist yet? No problem with the Oculus Rift.
To me, this technology is a natural evolution of experiential digital content – of particular use at large events and conferences. Technology integration at offline events started with simple terminals installed for participants to interact with, moved onto touch-screen technology like Surface and iPads and more recently into RFID-enabled event content and holographic projection. Now finally we move into full first-person digital immersion.
To truly take advantage of this type of new technology, you need quite a unique set of talents to be brought together into a team: designers, developers, CGI artists, filmmakers and storytellers. Digital production agencies and content studios are where you’ll find these people.
As a busy marketer or communicator, it’s easy to dismiss these technologies as nascent, trivial even. However, a good digital agency should always be thinking laterally about technological developments and constantly finding ways to harness them for their clients. If your agency isn’t talking to you about exploring opportunities in wearable technology, perhaps you should be asking them why not.
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With an honors degree in economics, and vast commercial and technical expertise in the digital communications industry, Jon provides business, communications and marketing acumen as well as detailed digital technical knowledge to the agencies in the Constituency Management Group (CMG) of IPG across Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, he established the firm's Centre of Digital Excellence in 2012 and also has executive responsibility for the network of in-house digital content studios established across the Asia Pacific region for the benefit of all of CMG's below-the-line agencies including Devries, Futurebrand, Golin Harris, Jack Morton, Octagon and Weber Shandwick.
March 19, 2014