Two years ago, Virtual Reality (VR) may have felt like an unattainable prospect for many members of the public. Seen as an exclusive bastion of geekdom, VR for mass consumption may have been largely written off as a mythical “technological unicorn”; how would ordinary people ever be able to afford such expensive and complicated devices? How would they even know how to use them without a STEM degree? Fortunately, that era is coming to a rapid and dramatic close as VR technology becomes increasingly accessible to both the public and companies wishing to harness this new power for commercial applications.

Solomon Rogers, Founder and MD for REWIND Virtual Reality, Digital and Physical Production Agency, explores three commercial applications of Virtual Reality that could be taking over living rooms everywhere in the next year…

The best seat in the house

An inherent issue with ticketed live events such as concerts, festivals or sporting events is the inability for some people to attend; maybe the tickets were too expensive, or they couldn’t make the journey. VR has the potential to completely remove these obstacles, allowing access to events worldwide direct to your living room. REWIND, for example, has been working with the BBC to create a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ experience which puts viewers directly into the audience of the show, allowing them to get a ‘best seat in the house’ view typically only available to a select few guests at each recording. Experiences of this nature show that live events can easily be captured, streamed and sold to members of the public as ‘virtual events’ with ‘virtual’ tickets purchased by audiences allowing them to feel part of the action. The possibilities here are endless – front row seat at the Oscars? The referee’s chair at Wimbledon? All only a VR experience away.

Try before you buy

Commercial products are another area of exciting VR potential. As with live events, getting hands-on with a new product can be inconvenient or difficult for a large number of people. However, in the age of Virtual Reality, customers will be able to experience fully immersive demonstrations and experience of a huge range of products.

An example of this is test driving cars, not every car showroom has the capacity to stock every model of car, and providing a VR experience removes the stress and hassle of having to trek about to find a physical car to test drive. Just jump into the world of Virtual Reality and experience the car from every angle, inside and out! This forward-thinking approach can also help forge deeper rooted connections of trust with customers; they can view the product from every angle. Everything is laid bare to them and this level of honesty can give customers confidence in both the product and the brand.

Make the old and tired new and exciting

With the rise of VR comes the opportunity to reinvigorate industries that have been stagnating. Virtual Reality can add exciting new angles and creative possibilities to tired and uninteresting products; a great example would be music videos. Aside from a promotional tool, music videos are arguably more of a waste of money and resources than any other area of the music industry. It’s hard enough to get people to pay for music in the age of torrents and illegal download sites, let alone a video!

VR can turn the music video industry into a profitable one for both artists and labels. Virtual music videos provide a brand new form of entertainment which has real value beyond traditional media, one that people will be willing to pay for.

Virtual Reality to hit new heights in 2016

Virtual Reality always retained an untouchable quality to it; it was seen as an inaccessible industry that was well beyond the technological and financial reach of most customers. However, a VR arms race has been going on in the shadows and is set to explode in Q1 of 2016, with multiple companies releasing hardware to suit every need and every budget.

Virtual Reality’s meteoric rise throughout 2015 is set to explode from Q1 2016; numerous high-profile public figures from a diverse range of industries are backing VR as the ‘next big thing’, and there is undeniable public interest in the medium as more content becomes available to access. At REWIND we always say that content is key, and by delivering exciting, high quality experiences across all VR platforms, the potential commercial applications are endless!

For more information on how virtual reality will impact consumers and markets in 2016 download Mintel’s European Consumer Trends 2016 free now.

After founding REWIND (FX) in 2011, Sol has grown the company year on year to an industry leading tribe of vibrant creatives, producing Virtual Reality, animation and creative technology installations for some of the world’s largest brands. Sol is regularly asked to speak at high profile international events, quoted in marketing, advertising and event trade publications, as well as appearing on TV and in national newspapers.

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