I have closely monitored the state of virtual reality for the past few years. From product announcements, beta tests and insider access to hardware and experiences. VR can be a powerful, emotion evoking medium and one that has captured the interest of mainstream media.
I wanted to test the experience beyond short stylized sessions and review the potential for enhancing live event experiences as well as the integration of commerce, context and the opportunity for content distribution and brand impact.
I recently live streamed the University of Oklahoma vs. Ohio State CFB game via Fox Sports VR app. It was a good experience and one that really pushed the limits of comfort due to length of the session and the hardwares capacity.
Having the ability to control various camera angles and a pervasive stats bar was a good enhancement to the experience and provided additional context to the on-field action.
Digital overlays of commentators and in-game recaps also gave the feel that this was an enhanced experience and highlights the potential to create points of distribution/engagement within a virtual session.
The most impressive aspect was the use of contextual hotspots in the VR experience to control the various commands to shift the camera. By simply focusing my gaze I was able to shift through menu options in a very frictionless way.
Stare at the orange circles to change the camera view
It’s this in-session capability that has me incredibly excited about the potential of the medium to transcend simple entertainment and have implications on brand impact & conversion potential by connecting commerce in addition to evoking emotion and presence.
There were a few hiccups as the experience would occasionally freeze, the device overheated numerous times and also requires wi-fi, but overall it was a very positive experience and one I would gladly engage with again.
While this experience was app based, I was incredibly excited about the recent announcement from the Oculus team announcing the ReactVR framework that will allow our team to create Web VR experiences in a virtual browser codenamed “Carmel”
This will reduce the dependency on app based experiences and opens up possibilities for creating experiences that don’t require a traditional download.
Having a web type user experience within VR where the transition from topic to topic is seamless vs. stopping, launching an app, navigating to the right content and initiating the experience can open up new opportunities to increase dwell time and create a better UX.
This framework will enable rapid and portable deployment of experiences combined with the consumer benefit of shifting from various content types across device types such as VR, mobile, traditional web .
This combined with the data created across browsing sessions provides a key foundational element to create connections with consumers within immersive virtual reality experiences.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360