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How do I get into the Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) Industry?

I started learning about VR 3 years ago and these are some of the things I did to hyper-accelerate my understanding of the virtual and augmented reality industry. Here is what I would do if I were starting out in VR now to put myself at the forefront of the industry.

  1. Start listening to the Voices of VR Podcast with Kent Bye (hint: listen on 1.5x speed or you will never get through them…there is over 500 now)
  2. Add Robert Scoble on Facebook and LinkedIn
  3. Learn Unity and watch talks from Tony Parisi
  4. Watch keynote talks about the gaming industry by HTC leader Rikard Steiber
  1. Once you learn Unity do the Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality Academy
  2. Subscribe to UploadVR, Road to VR, and VRScout
  3. Setup Google alerts for “Virtual Reality” and “Augmented Reality”
  4. Read VR news 2-4 hours a day
  5. Speak with EVERY person you know working in VR about the potential of it and ask “where do you see this going?”
  6. Do every VR experience that comes out (even though they make you sick)
  7. Buy a Samsung GearVR and Gear360 camera and start shooting and editing your own 360° videos (even just for fun!)
  8. Go to ALL VR/AR meetups and conferences and meet as many people as possible in the space.
  9. Come see us at VRTO in Toronto, June 24-26.

Work your ass off and find what excites you most and do that! I hope this was helpful and I sincerely hope that if you take this advice and build something amazing, you will let us invest in your company and bring it to the next level!

Feel free to add me on LinkedIn and if you are already working in VR, you have a working demo and you are interested in working with us, you can submit your info to our MetaVRse Partner Portal.

Cheers!

VR/AR Association Interview with Alan Smithson and Dan Flatt

Want to learn more about the business of Virtual and Augmented Reality and how MetaVRse started? Check out the latest “Everything VR & AR” podcast with AlanDan, host Kevin Harvell, and the VR/AR Association.

 

Why You Need a Specialized Virtual Reality Agency Now

Four years ago, I got the unique opportunity to try VR for the first time, long before most people. The demo was given to me by none other than Chris Milk (With.in, Here Be Dragons).  The experience was shown on an Oculus DK1 and when I put the headset on, I was magically transported to a concert where I was standing right next to Beck on stage.  This was the moment when I said “I am ALL in on VR” and from there I formulated my plan to sell my previous company (Emulator) and get into VR full time.  I studied the landscape of VR for a little over a year before deciding what to focus on and it lead me to fully understand the massive scope of VR.

Because there is an unlimited number of things you can do with this technology, I did not want to be tied down to any one technology or project and I wanted the flexibility to do multiple projects simultaneously.  After much deliberation, I realized that creating a VR/AR focused agency was the best possible idea and thus began the foundations for MetaVRse.  Now after two years working full time in VR and one full year with MetaVRse, I can tell you with 100% certainty that our business model of being a highly specialized VR/AR Agency was the best decision we could have ever made.

Over the past year, we have shot a ton of 360° videos, created VR retail solutions, AR menus, built and developed a 360° Photo Booth™, and spoken at a plethora of conferences on VR/AR and Enterprise.  We’ve worked with amazing companies like Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, Corus, HBO and more. In essence, we have built the demand for VR/AR with corporate clients from zero to now…in Toronto, Canada at least. Here’s our highlight reel:

This experience of being an agency in VR has given us a unique perspective on an industry that is growing faster than anyone can keep up with.  Below I am going to go through just a few of the different technologies that fall under Virtual and Augmented Reality and a couple ways they can be used.  You will soon realize that brands who use their traditional agency for VR/AR will be missing a ton of opportunities that this incredible communication medium allows for.  

NOTE:  If you are interested in learning more about VR/AR and how it can revolutionize your business, feel free to contact me directly and I will have one of our team work with you to devise a plan on how best to leverage the power of VR & AR with both short and long term objectives.  

From social media to experiential marketing, to brand and digital, most large companies understand the need for specialized agencies and VR/AR is no exception.  Here are just a few ways this technology can be used.  

360° Video (3D/Stereoscopic, 4K, 8K, Livestream)

The easiest way for brands to get into VR is by using 360° video.  This can be filmed in-house using consumer-grade or professional cameras for social media posts and really cool things like Tiny Planet shots and Facebook 360° posts (both of which get really great engagement).  Once you start putting these videos into VR, it is VITALLY IMPORTANT to make sure you use 100% stable shots.  This can be accomplished using gimbals and/or post production software tools such as Mettle, Kolor Pano and others. Adobe Suite is introducing new tools for 360° every day.  

SIDE NOTE:  OG 360° videographers will remember the headaches that you had to go through with stitching each frame by hand and 3D printing the camera mounts from plans released on Reddit.

Example of Tiny Planet Image (taken in the MetaVRse 360° Photo Booth™)

Cameras

Professional 360° Camera Rigs

Eye 360, GoPro Omni, Jaunt One

360° Camera rigs vary in price from thousands to hundreds of thousands.  It is important not only to know which camera to use for each application, but more importantly, to know who are the best in the world at exactly what you need.  Our global database of approved partners gives you the ability to leverage existing technologies while exploring new ones with limited risk.

Professional cameras are not always necessary.  When doing 360° content for social media, consumer cameras may suffice.  We teach all of our clients how to harness this technology internally to conserve resources.

Consumer 360° Cameras

Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Air, Nikon Keymission 360

Brands and agencies can use these simple point and shoot cameras to get 360° photos and videos for social media (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram). The price for these cameras are all under $1000 now and most photos can be edited directly on your phone.

Light Field Captured 3D VR Video

360° Light Field Capture (Lytro) – This camera was just used to produce the musical piece “Hallelujah”

While still in its infancy, light field capture for 360° videos you can actually move around in.  This is the dream of many a Hollywood Director (filming and having agency is the ultimate storytelling experience)  This technology requires massive server racks and a ton of post processing, but the results are stunning.

Virtual Tours (Real Estate, Recruiting, Pre-Construction, Office Tours)

Virtual office tour we did for Symbility Intersect

Virtual Tours for real estate, pre-construction, virtual office or facility tours are all amazing ways to leverage this technology.  Google, Matterport and YouVisit all offer ways to do these tours and each has its own unique pros and cons.  Knowing which technology to deploy and when is the tricky part.  VR/AR strategy is important so that you not only provide value to your organization in terms of direct ROI but also provide value to your customers and employees.

vCommerce

Virtual Reality Retail Analytics Platform

Virtual and Augmented Reality commerce are heating up and according to CITI Financial, this industry will be worth $1.3T by 2035.  There are a ton of startups working on everything from VR shopping to Web-based VR and AR shopping.  

  • vRetail & vCommerce 
  • WebVR
  • Indoor AR Mapping

3D Products (Rendered vs. Photogrammetry)

3D Product imaging for vCommerce is going to be a very big part of the VR revolution.  Brands will have to find easy ways to scale their products into 3D format for both 2D and VR viewing.  Products can be scanned by either photogrammetry (hundreds of single images mapped onto a final wireframe) or Rendered (made only using computer graphics without taking a single photo)

Guess whether this shoe was shot in photogrammetry or computer render?

 

Communications & Meetings in VR/AR

Facial Scanning for Security & Emotion

Communications in VR/AR are going to be a very competitive and exciting market.  I recently heard that a large company we work with does over 1 million minutes of video conferencing per month!  Having a full presence in VR to communicate with others in different parts of the world is really incredible.  The biggest challenges right now lie in the fact that the avatars for these worlds consist of orcs, robots and Minecraft characters.  What is required is a fast, easy and scalable way for companies to onboard their teams into VR and then secure their personal avatar using biometrics like retinal scanning to make sure someone isn’t pretending to be you.  There is a lot of work being done in this space and while it is still nascent, progress is happening very quickly.  Here are some of the parts required to make this happen.

  • Avatars
  • Volumetric Capture
  • Social VR
  • Security
  • Eye Tracking
  • Data Analytics

VR/AR Content Delivery

Once you have a great VR/AR product or service ready, how do you get this out to the public or your team?  What platform(s) are right for your needs?  How do you scale your offering?  These are not simple questions to answer.  By knowing all the platforms and how they work, you will have a much better uptake of your project.

  • VR/AR Platforms
  • HTML5 360° website players 

VR/AR Education & Training

One of the most incredible applications of VR/AR is education and training.  Giving completely immersive training scenarios to new employees saves money and increases information retention dramatically.  

  • VR/AR Education Companies and Platforms

VR/AR Creation Tools

There are many tools used to create virtual and augmented reality and knowing which tool to use when is very important.  Unity boasts that 70% of ALL VR projects are made using Unity, but more than 70% of all the revenue is made using their competitor, Unreal Engine.  This section could be a book all unto itself, so let’s just say there are a LOT of VR tools and it gets confusing.  I recommend learning Unity until you figure out what other tools are right for you.  The three big companies in the space are Unity, Unreal Engine and Adobe.

  • VR/AR Tools 

Depth Sensing Augmented Reality (Mixed Reality)

The difference between VR & AR is easy, VR puts viewers into a completely different world, blocked out from the real world and AR augments the world you are in using some sort of screen or projection.  Where things get really interesting is when you use AR in a specific context to the world you are in (ie. putting a Pokemon Go character on your table, or face recognition).  This next level technology uses a number of cameras (infrared and regular cameras) to literally map out the world you are in so things can be placed in context around you.  Imagine having an artificial intelligence robot that follows you around giving you the answers to any questions you have (like a holographic Alexa/Siri/Bixby).  Google has already introduced this in the form of their Tango phones and tablets and Microsoft is using the technology from their Hololens in the next generation of VR headsets to give what is known as “inside-out tracking”.  Trust me, this is REALLY cool stuff.  While no one knows what is going on with Apple, it is only a matter of time before they introduce their version of this technology.

  • Depth Sensing Cameras

As you see there is A LOT to learn and understand and hopefully I have given you a better understanding of why you will need a specialized company like MetaVRse to help you not only navigate the world of VR/AR, but to dominate your competition, by harnessing this technology faster and more efficiently.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions, alan@metavrse.com 

109 Ways Companies Are Using Virtual & Augmented Reality Right Now

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 12 months, you will be aware of what virtual reality is and probably have an idea of how big the virtual and augmented reality market is going to be.  I am going to tell you anyway to make sure you know now…

By 2035, Citi Financial Estimates the vCommerce industry to be worth $1.3 trillion.  Yes, that is trillion with a “T”, we’re talking 4 comma club!  Now that is a massive number and surely not all of this is from virtual and augmented reality… or is it.  According to VR evangelist and author of the Fourth Transformation, A book about the transformative potential of VR/AR, Robert Scoble suggests ‘Users will start expecting brands to have mixed reality experiences in 2018. The big money will show up in 2020’

“Users will start expecting brands to have mixed reality experiences in 2018. The big money will show up in 2020.”
– Robert Scoble, Author ‘The Fourth Transformation’

Below is a list of as many ways that brands are using VR and AR right now to tell their brand story and I have done my best to attach an estimated price of what this might cost to give you the best understanding of how you can use this incredible new technology to make your brand stand out in a sea of marketing clutter.  I have broken this down by industry in order to make it easier to get to what is relevant for you.  Also included in this list is a section called Utilitarian which refers to tools made by brands that are actually useful.  This last section is the one I see the most promise in.

Before you get to the list, if you have any questions about what you read below or if you want to know how Virtual & Augmented Reality can impact your business, please feel free to email me directly at alan@metavrse.com or if you are like me and you want to read more about us, visit www.MetaVRse.com.

JUMP TO:

 

RETAIL

The Virtual Future of Retail

The Line Apartment VR Shopping Experience

Lowes In-Store Navigation using Google’s Tango Augmented Reality Technology

Lowes Virtual Reality Holoroom

Lowes Hololens Experience

Walgreen’s tests Augmented Reality Loyalty program

Sephora Augmented Reality Makeup App

IKEA Virtual Reality Kitchen

IKEA VR App

eBay VR Department Store

McDonald’s Happy Meal “Ski Slope”

McDonald’s Happy Meal VR Box

Coke Google Cardboard made from packaging

McDonald’s Farm Tour

Topshop Front Row Fashion Show

Dior present its own VR Headset

Rebecca Minkoff Google Cardboard

Merrell “Trailscape” VR

Boursin Sensorium

Gatorade Baseball

Dramamine Ad for nausea

Patron Tequila VR

Shinola Watch Factory Tour

American Express “You vs. Maria Sharapova”

Mountain Dew VR Skateboarding

GAP AR

Chik-Fil-A

M&M’s

Sodimac Home Centers VR

TRAVEL & TOURISM

Viking Cruise Ship 360° Tour

Best Western Hotels use VR

Hilton uses 360° Video to promote room bookings

Marriott VRoom Service (in-room VR service)

Hilton Hotels 360° Tour Video

Flam Train 360° Experience

St. Regis Hotel Lobby Virtual “Matterport” tour

MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT

360° Photo Booth™

NY Times VR

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation VR

Late Show VR Pictionary

Coachella Livestream 360° VR

Coachella Augmented Reality Welcome Kit

MetaVRse VR Events & Entertainment

NBA & Mountain Dew team up for VR Art

Hunger Games VR/360 Experience

Molson Canadian Hockey Night in Canada VR

NTT Japan’s Telecom using VR/AR/AI

CNN VR

MINING, OIL & GAS

Overview of VR/AR for Mining

BGC Engineering uses Hololens AR to show mine reclamation

Lucara Diamond Mine uses VR/360 to show investors the mine site without travelling

Discovery VR ‘Gold Rush’ VR/360 series

BNN Interview with MetaVRse CEO, Alan Smithson

AIRLINES

Joining the VR Mile High Club – UploadVR article on using VR in an airplane

United Airlines and Matt Damon show you the new Business class Boeing 777 before it’s built

Nicole Kidman introducing Etihad Airways in VR

Qantas Airlines VR app

Virgin Atlantic using VR to show future planes

AUTOMOTIVE

Audi VR Showroom

Audi TT VR Experience

Volvo VR Test Drive

Lexus VR Experience

Lexus RX VR Experience

Nissan Rogue Tiltbrush

Ford VR Design Studio

Ford Rally Car 360° Experience

Ford VR app

Audi 360 Video with Gigi Haddid

Mercedes 360° Interior Tour Video

Mercedes Virtual Reality Showroom

Toyota Prius 360° Video

AT&T “It can wait” anti-texting and driving 360° VR campaign

Renault VR Prank

MEDICAL / PHARMACEUTICAL

Virtual & Augmented Reality for Pharmaceutical Companies

VR For Life Saving Training

Virtual Reality Surgery Practice Simulator

Using VR to ease stress of dental procedures

Using VR to help seniors experience more

How VR is shaping the healthcare industry

BioFlightVR Physician Training and Simulations

VR Human Anatomy App

GE Neuro VR exploration of the Human Brain

Excedrin VR Migraine Empathy Experience

Bayer AR Teaching Tool

Schizophrenia Empathy VR

Article: 10 VR companies disrupting healthcare

VR Saves a babies life

World’s first 360° Live Surgery

Virtual Reality to study the brain

World’s First VR Medical Training Facility

VR Medical training Simulator

VR Guided Meditation

VR to treat Vertigo

VR to treat Cancer

Hololens visualization of Asthma attack

See inside the Human Eye in VR before surgery

VR to treat Mental Health

REAL ESTATE

Symbility Intersect 360° VR Office Tour

Using VR to sell expensive pre-construction condos (InventDev)

Using VR Tours to sell Real Estate (VR Listing)

Augmented Reality Tour of new Mall

Matterport 3D Virtual Tour Platform  

YouVisit 360° Virtual Tour Platform

360° Virtual Condo Tour (YouVisit)

360° Virtual Private Club Tour

Retail Store Tour (360° Photos)

LEGAL & INSURANCE

How VR is improving the Criminal Justice System

UTILITARIAN (useful tools using VR/AR)

Augmented Reality Piano Lessons (Hololens)

Architectural uses for Microsoft Hololens AR

Virtual Reality Resumes

Putting people inside a burning house to teach fire safety

 

If you made it this far, congratulations!  The above list is as comprehensive as we could make it and we will continue to update this blog to ensure this resource is always relevant.  I hope you found some value in the article.  Again, if you have an idea for how to use VR in your business, but don’t know where to start, feel free to email me and get the conversation started.  alan@metavrse.com

 

Technology and Tenacity Dominate the Haste & Hustle Conference

On February 9-10, hundreds of entrepreneurs and marketers braved a blizzard to make their way to Ontario’s Niagara region for the first annual Haste & Hustle conference. An impressive and eclectic speaker line-up shared their expertise and the stories of their success including Gary Vaynerchuk, Casey Neistat and MetaVRse’s own Alan Smithson.  

A last minute relocation of the event to the Bethany Community Church ended up being a fitting venue for the inspirational presenters who shared wisdom that could only be accumulated through true entrepreneurial sacrifice. New communication technologies such Virtual and Augmented Reality and Chatbots were also a consistent theme throughout the show with many speakers highlighting how tech can help aspiring entrepreneurs reach their business goals – but how there is no substitute for good old fashioned hustle.

Outside of the “chapel”, attendees were invited to try the latest in Virtual and Augmented technology in MetaVRse’s Mixed Reality Experience Zone (generously sponsored by HTC Vive) and try the latest consumer gadgets in a Tech Hub curated by gadget guru Marc Saltzman. Haste & Hustle was host to activities that highlighted the Niagara Region, featuring a marketing crawl of local businesses and an evening gala at the world famous Jackson Triggs winery.

The real highlight was the collected wisdom being shared from the stage. Here are a few of our favourite moments:

Alan Smithson’s Presentation on how VR & AR Will Be Used by Businesses

MetaVRse CEO Alan Smithson opened his talk with a personal story about the toll his previous business took on him and his family and the lessons he learned from the experiences that have carried over into the success of MetaVRse.  The talk turned to his current passion for Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies and the way they’re already being used by innovative businesses. Among the most amazing predictions for the technology, Smithson predicted that in five years from now we’ll be viewing the world through a pair of glasses rather than looking at our phones!

Gary Vaynerchuk – Vayner Media

The main event for many of Haste & Hustle’s attendees, Gary Vaynerchuk almost didn’t make it to the event because of a severe snowstorm. His DailyVee Youtube video for that day actually focused on the story of getting to the event and how the journey is the most important part of any accomplishment.  

Vaynerchuk has built his brand around entrepreneurial hustle and his talk didn’t sugar coat the amount of personal sacrifice needed in order to achieve the kind of success that he aspires to. Gary will join Gwyneth Paltrow and will.i.am on Apple TV’s new reality show “Planet of the Apps” about app developers.

 

Casey Neistat – YouTube Star

Casey Neistat is one of the most popular creators on Youtube and it seemed like as many Haste & Hustle attendees were there to see him.  Casey shared his hustle story of what made him strive for more: He was scrubbing a clam chowder pot 50 hours a week to support his family when he started making his popular videos. Neistat mused that the path to success is undefined and you get the tools you need from different places. On being an influencer he shared the memorable analogy: “I hate the word influencer. It talks about the effect, not the cause; like calling a musician an ear-pleaser.”

 

Erin Bury – Eighty Eight Creative

Erin Bury is the managing partner of Eighty Eight Creative, a leading Toronto based communications agency. Bury blew minds with her talk about Chat Bots and how these simulated conversations get smarter and more human the more we use them. The talk included surprising insights like how chatbots live inside the platforms customers already use like Facebook messenger and Whatsapp and will automate things that we’re currently paying humans to do: analysts predict that 85% of customer service interactions will be handled by chatbots by 2020!

Greg Murray – Pfizer

Greg Murray is a product manager at Pfizer and an advocate for creativity within the biggest corporate settings. His talk focused on how creativity shouldn’t be reserved for artists or a so-called “creative class” and how it can be incorporated into all roles. Keeping with the technology theme that ran throughout the event, Murray reminded us that as AI replaces more routine functions we’ll be entering a more creative economy as the remaining jobs require human creativity.

Giovanni Marsico – Archangel Academy

Giovanni Marsico, the founder of Archangel Academy shared an inspirational talk about his own entrepreneurial challenges to found his organization and used an effective superhero metaphor to share his approach to how entrepreneurs reach their full potential and make an exponential impact on the world.

Marsico shared a memorable analogy of how we use four currencies over the course of our careers: Our Time, Our Gift, Our Relationships and Our Reputation. When we start out, Time is our only asset. We then trade our time to develop our Gift which we use to form relationships with other people when we use it to add value for them. Finally we exchange our social capital for Brand capital to develop our reputation as the most valuable asset of all.

Manjit Minhas – Minhas Breweries and Dragon’s Den

Best known as one of the new generation of Dragons on Dragon’s Den, Manjit shared her story of the tenacity required to secure her first big deal for her company Minhas Breweries. The story involved Minhas getting her client to sign an agreement on a napkin after negotiating terms in a restaurant! She offered the audience the advice: “Do not have a “Plan B”, it will only distract you from “Plan A”.

Paul Copcutt – You, Inc.

Paul Copcutt is a master of personal branding on LinkedIn  and offered some pro-tips for the Haste & Hustle audience to  help them use the professional network to better market themselves. One of his most effective pieces of advice was to identify the the one word you’d use to describe your personal essence and build your profile around it.

 

How to fit Virtual & Augmented Reality into your 2017 Marketing Budget

Now is the time when marketing teams from every industry, everywhere in the world are setting their 2017 budgets and deciding where they are going to get the best bang for their buck.  If you are like most who went to CES or read anything about it, you will know that Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) is going to be HUUUGE (spoken like Trump).  The real truth is that 2016 saw the launch of many of the major VR headsets (GearVR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Playstation VR) and also two new AR headsets (Microsoft Hololens, Meta2) but very few companies actually used this technology to market their products.  The ones who did found an added benefit of generating a ton of media impressions simply by being there first.  2017 promises a new wave of practical VR/AR applications for training, entertainment, brand engagement and sales, but before you jump in head first, I want to show you how to dip your toes into the VR/AR pool so that you can begin to see benefits and metrics before committing a larger portion of your budget.  

At MetaVRse, we saw the opportunity to become the trusted VR/AR Agency of Record for brands advising them on their long term strategy on how to use this new communication medium across their entire business, but before we could even start, we had to show people what VR was and why it was important which is why we have deliberately taken a shotgun ‘spray and pray’ approach to using this new medium.  We started by introducing VR at events (Art of Marketing, Royal Ontario Museum Friday Night Live, PwC Partners Conference) then we did a bunch of 360° videos (Groove Cruise, Pride Toronto, Queen’s Plate, Niagara Falls Tourism) and we have learned by teaching using our white paper “Virtual Reality for Marketing, 2016” and most recently we are producing custom VR and AR apps for clients to drive customer engagement that will be released later this year.  

The most common questions

We saw the opportunity of VR and AR for business early on, but like many, we did not know how best to capitalize on it.  Questions like “What is the ROI?”  “Who else is doing this?”  “Can you show me examples of this?”  have left us stumped and that is why I have decided to write this series of articles to help answer some of the questions that we found so difficult to answer and honestly still struggle with because this technology is still on the bleeding edge.  

“What is the ROI?”  – This is impossible to define right now for a number of reasons; 1. There is no critical mass of headset adoption yet so most experiences are leveraging traditional media to amplify their VR strategy.  2. The systems for gaining metrics for VR/AR have not yet been developed (potential opportunity).  3.  There has not been enough people using this to get a real understanding of the metrics.

“Who else is doing this?”  This one gets me a lot.  Brands want to do something completely novel and outside of the box, but want to know who else has done something similar.  The very fact they ask this, makes me question if they just want something new and shiny or they truly want to be a pioneer in their industry.  It takes a certain leap of faith to earmark part of your marketing budget to pioneer something new, but look at the first companies to harness the power of the internet or mobile, they ended up WAY ahead of their competition and VR/AR is no different.  

“Can you show me examples of this?”  While we now have a list of case studies of our own and there are a few other business examples from other companies, the truth is that brands who are jumping on this are creating novel communications that will reward them in many ways; 1. Being seen as a leader in their industry, 2. Getting additional traditional media coverage, 3. Gaining experience to harness this technology so when VR/AR becomes mainstream they have a distinct advantage, 4. Winning awards together (my personal goal is to win a Cannes Lion Award) VR and AR are new, but already there are award categories for it.

I have compiled a list of projects you can start right away that won’t break the bank and will get you the experience that you are going to need to ask for bigger budgets moving forward.  If you get stuck or want some help, I am available, feel free to email me; alan@metavrse.com

Here are some options for getting into VR and AR in 2017 (lowest to highest)

 

Branded Google Cardboard

Branded Google Cardboard

One of the tools you are going to need in-house is a high quality, mobile VR headset.  This will give you a great resource when asking your CEO for more budget towards VR. Check out: GearVR or Google Daydream View VR Headsets ($1200 and up, including phone)

The question for you as a marketer in 2017 is will you be seen as a leader or a follower?  OK that is a little harsh and presumptive, but in all seriousness, VR and AR are coming and they are going to be as disruptive as the mobile phone so if you want to get ahead of the curve, I suggest you find some room in your 2017 budget to at least dip your toes in the water.  For more information, case studies and pricing, please reach out to me directly, alan@metavrse.com

The Decision to Rebrand MetaVRse

When MetaVRse was founded in early 2016, we had a goal of becoming the world’s most advanced and futuristic virtual reality arcade. We delved deep into the new world of VR; learning, experimenting, and pushing the technology to its limits. It quickly became apparent that VR’s potential wasn’t well understood, and while the industry’s focus on virtual reality for gaming had given the platform traction with consumers, it had left a void in solutions for business and marketing – and we weren’t the only ones to notice. Without any major authorities in the industry to turn to, brands we had connected with began contacting us to create new content and applications to use in their content and experiential marketing campaigns. From there, our direction slowly began shifting from virtual reality for entertainment to virtual and augmented reality for business.

The decision to rebrand

The original Metavrse arcade-styled branding

The original MetaVRse branding was comprised of surreal imagery and futuristic display fonts mixed with a slight 80’s retro VR style, built around an overall space theme, and a primarily red/black palette. This worked well for us during our entertainment stages but became increasingly irrelevant as time went on. Here’s why:

Problem: Red
In colour psychology, red generally elicits a passionate response in the observer. However, the emotion associated with the response varies from person to person and may be perceived as either positive or negative. For some, red demonstrates excitement, strength, power, and energy. For others, red demonstrates aggression, conceit, dominance, and warning – particularly when used in tandem with black. With our newfound path along the business and enterprise side of VR & AR, we determined there were other colours that communicated our message much more vividly than red.

Problem: Arcade Design Style
Simply put, big, bold fonts and surreal images of VR headsets floating in front of a nebula also didn’t portray the message we wanted to communicate. The style was eye-catching, but was designed for an arcade.

Problem: Irrelevant Tagline
The MetaVRse logo consists of three elements: the stylized AV embedded into the wordmark with the tagline hanging out below. It was designed to be versatile – either the entire logo can be used or just the AV symbol. The AV represents the two core parts of our business: Augmented and Virtual reality. The original tagline, Elevate Reality, didn’t speak to what we do and, as such, was scrapped.

Refined mission, refined branding


The new MetaVRse logo

Solution: Blue

After numerous concepts and colour combinations, it was ultimately decided that the new colour should be in the blue spectrum, and landed on a variation of cyan. Cyan maintains its blue roots but is far enough away on the spectrum to avoid being perceived as a ‘safe and corporate’ blue. When used as an accent, cyan represents our creative ability while being offset a carefully crafted neutral colour pallete and minimal design style. Additionally, blue-spectrum colours nearly always elicit a positive response in the observer. This colour demonstrates creativity, inspiration, innovation, energy, success, infinity, and both modernism and futurism – which aligns with MetaVRse‘s current path and principles.

Solution: Clean and Minimal Designs

The new brand design style is minimal and precise, and now primarily uses a neutral colour palette with subtle hints of cyan as an accent. It departs from the former arcade style and, instead, introduces a unique classy/futuristic mixture that represents our values and speaks to our desired public perception. The colour palette coupled with the new design style communicates the message that we are creative, serious leaders – and we mean business.

Design Concept: Sales Slick

Design Concept: Brochure

Solution: Updated Tagline

Finally, while the core of the logo remains unchanged (aside from a colour change), the tagline has been revamped to reflect both core parts of the business: virtual + augmented reality. The use of the plus sign subconsciously indicates that VR and AR both play key roles in the equation to our solutions. Although somewhat contradictory to the AV symbol, the tagline begins with virtual instead of augmented because of the popularity and dominance of VR. But who knows, maybe once AR rises in popularity we’ll refresh the tagline again.

 

How to use Virtual + Augmented Reality for Marketing, a tiered approach

2016 was the year virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) hit the world stage in a big way. With the commercial launch of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony Playstation and Microsoft Hololens, brands began dipping their toes in the waters testing to see how best to use this revolutionary new medium. From the invention of the printing press through radio, television, internet and mobile, brand managers and CMO’s have always entered new technology slowly sometimes taking years to adopt, but it feels like now the world of technology is moving at such a pace that if you blink you might miss out on some incredible opportunities that your competition is certainly thinking about.

So the question is simple, ‘how can I use VR/AR right now without compromising my budget while proving that it is an effective communication medium’?

After working with over 50 different brands and organizations using only VR/AR, we have noticed a pattern of acceptance and experimentation that will both mitigate the risk while keeping your organization ahead of the technology curve to be seen as an industry leader. The natural progression thus far has unfolded like this.

Showcasing Virtual Reality at an internal meeting or event

By using off the shelf content, brands can get their employees excited about VR/AR without breaking the bank and without investing in custom content which is still pretty expensive. This also gives brand managers the opportunity to get buy-in from senior management and this goes a long way when developing a new VR/AR concept for external use. (ex. PwC Partners Conference, Telus Sales meeting)

Using VR at a trade show or event

VR is so new that brands still have the ability to wow consumers and customers simply by having the technology available for people to try. Finding content that is engaging and relevant is an interesting challenge since most brands at this stage are not ready to spend $100K on a custom experience yet. Knowing what games and experiences are available and then knowing how to use the technology to maximize throughput is the key here. (ex. Art of Marketing conference). VR was the number one on the 10 top industry trends to implement in 2017. Here is a brief interview about how VR/AR will be used in events.

Producing a 360° video

One of the easiest ways for brands to start using this new immersive technology is to create some simple 360° videos for use on social platforms. Facebook, YouTube and now Twitter (Periscope) support the format. There are even companies that offer pre-recorded footage for purchase (Blend.Media). Using 360° video to promote your brand is a really great way to prove to the C-suite that VR can generate measurable results. One example of a computer generated 360° video/VR experience that is completely on brand is the Boursin Sensorium VR experience.

Filming lion cubs with the Samsung Gear 360 camera
Samsung Gear 360 camera with 7 week old lion cub, Samira at Jungle Cat World.

Using AR for packaging

A simple way for brands to begin embracing augmented reality is to use their existing packaging in a more digital way. Without having to change the packaging, this becomes an elegant, low-cost solution that can have a big impact on consumer engagement. Something that we are working on now is an AR scavenger hunt that allows users to collect points simply by scanning their favourite products and interacting with them. This is a marketers dream as the data collected by these interactions can give great insight into the people who buy your products. One downside is that you still have to download an app to do this. There are three main platforms for AR marketing; Blippar, Vuforia, Augment and Marxent Labs.

Virtual Office Tour

One of the best ways brands can begin to use VR technology is to do a 360°, VR, Google Tour of their space. This has the added value of making their office searchable from Google Maps and eventually Google Earth VR will allow you to enter spaces. The best available system for doing these types of tours is called Matterport, a combination of hardware (camera) and software platform that allows users to visit inside your building and also create hotspots where people can learn more about your office, company and team. We did one of these tours for a very forward thinking digital marketing agency in Toronto, Symbility Intersect just did this with great results. A company that has done an excellent job at creating virtual tours for Colleges and Universities is YouVisit.

Matterport “dollhouse” view of Symbility Intersect 360° office tour.
Matterport “dollhouse” view of Symbility Intersect 360° office tour.

Fully Immersive VR experience

The pinnacle of virtual reality at this point is a fully immersive game or activation. Brands have a unique opportunity to give attendees at trade shows a look into the matrix or down the rabbit hole where the laws of physics and reality no longer apply. Car companies like Volvo, Audi and Lexus have all jumped on the ability to put people into a fully rendered car and drive it anywhere (even on the moon!). Another great use of fully immersive VR for brand marketing is the Merrell Trailscape VR in-store experience where consumers were given the task of walking across a rope bridge while rocks are falling all around them. This is perfectly on brand and well executed.

As you can guess, the possibilities of VR and AR for marketing are literally endless, but taking a pragmatic and tiered approach is how brands will keep pace with technology while staying within budget and also see the best ROI. My recommendation is to take a slow, tiered and sustainable approach or go feet first, all in and make something world shattering. Whatever you decide to do, understand that it is no longer a matter of whether you will do VR/AR, it’s simply when.

Top 10 Marketing uses of VR/AR & 360° Video in 2016

2016 was the launch year for VR and these marketers got it right before anyone else – this is how you do VR at the start of VR.

Star Wars – Trials on Tatooine

Star Wars - Trials on Tatooine

While not really an ad for Star Wars, giving people a chance to become a Jedi-Knight and use a lightsaber in VR has to be one of the most engaging ways to connect a brand to a real life experience. Download this mini game for free on Steam.

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Merrell Trailscape

Merrell Trailscape

Hiking across a ricketty bridge high on a mountain side is not something that many people would want to do in real life which is exactly why Merrell hit a homerun with this campaign.  By combining real elements of a rope bridge with virtual reality, they put guests into the action in the one place that they know their products shine through.  This is a prime example of how experienced based VR marketing is going to help sell products.

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Marriott Transporter

Marriott Transporter

In a trial of VR by Marriott Hotels, a 4D sensory experience was created to ‘teleport’ guests to different destinations including beaches in Hawaii and downtown London. The brand created the virtual travel experience delivered via a specially crafted ‘travelling teleporter’, which toured eight US cities last September. The phone booth-shaped structure featured the Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headset, wireless headphones and a suite on 4D sensory elements.

Marriott Hotels brand marketing VP, Michael Dail, said the exercise was about giving the next generation of travellers “the clear cut notion that more amazing travel experiences are coming and to encourage them to co-create the future of travel with us on TravelBrilliantly.com, where their best ideas enter Marriott’s innovation pipeline”, he said. “Together, we are pushing the limits of what is possible.”

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Lowes Holoroom

Lowes Holoroom

The Lowe’s Holoroom is a virtual reality home improvement design and visualization tool that empowers homeowners with an immersive, intuitive experience in the room of their dreams. Visualizing a home improvement project is hard – the Holoroom is here to help.

The Lowe’s Holoroom was introduced in 2014 as the first concept from Lowe’s Innovation Labs, and was available for six months in two Toronto stores. The next iteration of the Holoroom was available in 19 stores across the U.S. beginning in November 2015. Lowe’s Innovation Labs will continue to refine and evolve the experiences as technology continues to evolve and we gather real-time feedback from customers and employees.

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IKEA VR Experience

IKEA VR Experience

The IKEA VR experience lets you walk in an Ikea kitchen, where you can open doors, walk around and explore the space. IKEA even added the ability to cook their famous meatballs in the VR kitchen. Check it out on Steam.

Timeless 360° Time Machine

Sony Pictures and Corus Media partnered with Toronto-based Virtual & Augmented Reality Innovation Agency, MetaVRse to create a unique, one-of-a-kind launch activation that used 360° photography to transport guests back in time to an iconic scene from the new show Timeless where the Hindenburg is exploding above your head.  Once taken, guests were emailed their photos and could interact with the photo on a large touchscreen and also see themselves in virtual reality for the first time.

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Old Irish – Journey to Ireland

Old Irish - Journey to Ireland

Old Irish, a craft beer hailing from the Eastern European country of Georgia, decided to have some fun blurring the line between virtual and reality. Their video proves that sometimes it’s not what happens when you put on the virtual reality goggles that matters — it’s what happens when you take them off:  This mind altering activation put a VR headset on people and while they were taking a 360° Virtual Tour of Ireland, a complete irish bar was assembled around them so when they took off the headset they were in an irish bar without moving at all.

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Lexus VR

Lexus VR

Lexus partnered with VR company, Rewind.co to create at the world’s first VR Car Configurator and Simulator for the Oculus Rift DK2 headset in alignment with the new Lexus NX launch campaign.

The experience was created for Visualise and Amaze using the latest CGI virtual reality technology which immerses the user within a virtual world where they can fully configure an NX to their own specification and then take it on a test drive through an alternate dimension, which mirrors that of the campaign seen on all other media. The reaction of a first time user is all we need to see how successful the experience has been.

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Tom’s “Giving Trip” in 360°

 Tom’s “Giving Trip” in 360°

This story-based 360° video takes you on a journey to Peru where you see exactly how Tom’s one-for-one shoe program impacts the lives of school children in underprivileged countries.  This short video gives a great impact to how the brand is helping the world.

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Boursin Sensorium

Boursin Sensorium

Boursin Sensorium is a fantastical tour of a magical fridge filled with life-size celery, garlic and onions (the key ingredients in Boursin cheese).  This 360° video is best viewed on a Google Cardboard, GearVR or Google Daydream, but is just as impactful on a phone.

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Nissan Micra VR Tiltbrush: Savant Stephen Wiltshire Draws Nissan Micra in Tilt Brush from Memory

Nissan Micra VR Tiltbrush Video

Stephen Wiltshire, a British architectural artist who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, has garnered fame for his ability to draw detailed recreations from memory — oftentimes of complex cityscapes he’s only viewed briefly.

In a new ad for the 2017 Micra, Nissan puts his chops to the test. But instead of equipping him with his usual arsenal of pen and paper, in this case, Nissan tasks him with authoring his recreation in VR using Tilt Brush, which he’s never used before. Talk “Stephen is not able to filter anything,” says his sister in voice-over. “He absorbs everything. Detail is the highlight to his drawing.”  Stephen recreates the nuances of the car in stunning detail using VR as his artist tool.

Honorable Mentions

Jimmy Fallon’s Virtual Reality Pictionary

Jimmy Fallon’s Virtual Reality Pictionary

Using the popular VR title Tiltbrush via HTC Vive, featured guests Michael Che of SNL’s Weekend Update and Andrew Rannells of Girls went head-to-head in a game of futuristic Pictionary in VR.

After selecting a random number hung on a wooden board, the players were tasked with drawing their chosen subject in a 3D space via Tiltbrush. It was then up to their partners to guess the correct answer within the allotted time. For the sake of simplicity, the ‘artists’ held only the painting brush and not the palette controller that’s used to switch through different colors, textures, etc. The segment was a perfect example of how virtual reality can be as much a social experience as it can an isolated one.

Video here

White House 360° Tour with the Obamas

White House 360° Tour with the Obamas

Michelle and Barack Obama take you for a virtual reality 360° tour of the iconic White House.  Produced by the always amazing Felix & Paul, this 8:30 video gives some history and insight into what life is like in the most famous house in America.

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Augmented Reality Dollar Bill

This genius app idea can be used with any American one dollar bill and uses augmented reality to show the white house in 3D complete with Presidential helicopter.  Touch parts of the house to learn more about different presidents.

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Marketers, take note: this is the beginning, you can and will do better, and we would love to help.  Connect with me and let’s start working on your next project together:  alan@metavrse.com