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Virtual Reality

Marketing tips for Virtual Reality Start-Ups

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Introduction:

We all know that Virtual Reality (VR) is on the rise. I’ve spent the past few years dipping in and out of the Silicon Valley scene for 6 months at a time, and it is (as my friend and VR storyteller, Sarah Hill says) like drinking from a Virtual Firehose.

VR start ups

The challenge is that until people have experienced VR, they are somewhat like the Square in ‘Flatland’, unable to see the next dimension until the Sphere appears.

(Watch it. I loved the book from Reverend Abbott that it is based one)

As such, if you are working with a VR start-up, or selling into that space, I think it’s worth looking at a few shared principles.

Operating Principles:

1. VR is the next platform – Mark Zuckerberg

Knowing this, it changes your view of what is being built, and it worth talking in terms of this not in terms of games, apps, headsets, processors and so on.


This is the future, and integral to Zuck’s plan for Facebook.

2. It is hard to sell 3D in a 2D world. (credit to The Next Web for that phrase)

You have to give people the experience of VR directly.
There is no other way to ‘bring people into’ that dimension.

As such, always be seeking to give people a positive experience. It is the only way for people to understand.

3. The battle is against 2 dimensions.

You are seeking to take attention from existing platforms.
This is going to be interesting. Why? Well you simply cannot be in VR and be in this world. Unless businesses adapt and enter the VR space, they are likely to be left behind in time.

4. The battle is not against each other.

I mean all you VR start-ups and anyone looking at supporting the industry.
There is enough room for everyone.
Ask yourself: How can you ally with your virtual neighbors?

5. Engage the senses

The more senses you engage, the more real it will feel.
Obvious, yet I would suggest you need to break down each sense and rate the level of immersion on a scale of 1 -5.
This way you don’t kid yourself when your story is a 5, but the sound is 1.
We can see this issue with underwhelming experiences of 360 footage. Some tips on filming here.

You need everything to be activated for it to be believable.
John Gower from Dialectinc.com says that ‘belief is the new sense’.
It is when there is doubt created (e.g. through poor sound) that a person stops ‘suspending disbelief’.

6. Novelty, surprise, and shock the senses.

This is the opportunity in VR – to have someone engaged, and then to create a new experience. Watch to the end of ‘Unicorn Island’ by Jaunt to see what I mean. I laughed out loud as ‘something happened’. You’ll see.

7. Create features in 3D to be shared in 2D

I loved Vtime’s selfie feature which allows you to take a snap and when back in ‘this world’, and share what you were up to on Social Media.
This helps pique interest in the mind’s of the curious yet initiated.

8. Culture is something you allow to form, it is not given

VR is new territory, and it is going to be very Social.
Whatever you condone becomes part of the fabric of the experience, and as with all Social experiences the ‘people will make the place’.

9. The rules have changed

You don’t have to follow the old approaches, you have to experiment.
In AltSpaceVR one time I manage to weird out my fellow explorers when I articulated how I should not have assumed a person with a pink avatar was a girl. Why? It is an old paradigm, but one that is deep in our culture.

10. Mindshare

Right now you have to be generous in sharing what you know, and for an older generation this may not ‘feel right’. It is moving quickly.
Blog, create videos, run courses, educate people. The whole industry wins this way.

11. Think ecosystem

Understand it is an eco-system of businesses, working in the same space.
You really want to be networking with the right people to bundle packages or products, run events etc.
We can see this happening at Upload VR, with Robert Scoble leading the way.

I know this is already happening in many locations (including the UK), but having chatted with some VR start-up members there is still a feeling of competition – as such I am encouraging an alternative view, especially as…

12. Nvdia are creating the shovels

Look at how you can best help them sell more. Simple.

13. Plantronics are making a consumer play

Sound is going to be one of main ways to either increase immersion/engagement, or not.
And as 360 headsets make it onto the market, expect Platronics to be making a big play.
After all, the last time there was a giant leap for man (on the moon), he reported back on one of their headsets.
I learned this from one of their crew, Niven Miraj (based in South Africa) over breakfast whilst attending a conference last week.

14. Oculus has the shelf (for now)

Until Google brings out a higher end unit, Oculus wins. (keeping this simple, knowing there are other platforms too)

Google will win attention though.
It may only be Cardboard today, but we all can guess that new units will be announced by Google by year end, based on Android.
And that is just the beginning…

15. VR Livestreaming is happening on YouTube now, and will come to Facebook soon enough.
This will massively increase adoption rates.
Using certain cameras (Insta360 being one of them), you can do live 360/VR. But you need to ask ‘why 360?’ not just using a normal 2D approach.

Conclusion:

With the release of the Samsung 360 Gear today, we will see more people start to play with VR – but it is still very early days.

As such, we are planning to set up a community of VR evangelists, called The Metaverse, where they can meet and discuss.
Would you like to be a part of it?

Please apply here.
We are seeking a small number of sponsors (Level 1: $1000 a month, Level 2: $2500, Level 3: $5000) – all of which will gain a big boost in this space.
What will you offer?
Sponsors: will give members early access, discount vouchers, special events etc.
Members: will help spread the word

…and together we can take people into the next dimension.

10 tips on Virtual Reality filming for your business

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Virtual Reality in Business

I started getting into how Virtual Reality applications for business back in 2013 when Oculus first appeared on the scene.
And now, we are seeing just seeing the start to true adoption but interest is going nuts.
Look at this curve on Google Trends…

Virtual reality

This is happening. And you want to be a part of it.

Looking at a few stats from this report, we know that millions of people will buy headset this year, including Oculus, and Oculus Gear VR (bundled with a Samsung S7 purchase).

But it will be Google Cardboard type units that will be the entry point, the gateway, as professional broadcaster and VR storytelling Sarah Hill from Story-Up.com puts it.

This year won’t see mainstream adoption – it may well be still two or three years away, but everyone will have a first time experiencing VR, and a $10 unit that works with your phone is going to be the way for most. And the numbers will be tens of millions, if not nudging 100 million experiencers by the end of the year.

If you are convinced you need to be looking into this space, then let me give you some hints and tips as to what you need to consider to get yourself moving.

Using Virtual Reality in your business today

You need to film ‘something’, and VR is a way to tell stories.

There are so many options with cameras, ranging from $400 up to $60,000+
As you would expect, quality is rather different on the top end.

If you want to go ‘DIY’ then buy a low/mid range one and have a play about. You’ll get some idea how things work.

Travis Taylor from Krytsal Visions has been exploring the tech side, so reach out to him for consultancy around that and much more.

Yesterday we filmed in my favorite Curry House in Pacfic Beach, San Diego -Spice Lounge.
I really think there are loads of applications for some novel content at a Local level.

We are only just at the beginning of understanding even just a few applications virtual reality  will have your business, it really is going to come down to the creativity of the users.

Having done exactly that myself, here are the main points you need to know when filming in Virtual Reality, especially for conferences/groupings.

3 types of approaches.

There are three ways I think about this now:

1. Scripted – this is like proper storytelling, just like this (but in VR):

Myself and Amy are a good team. Hire us here!

2. Fly on the wall

This is perfect for concerts and watching ‘a stage’ at conference

3. Inclusive

This is when you make the camera ‘your friend’, bringing them into the storyline.

Each one will ‘feel different’, and it depends what you are seeking to achieve as to which to run with.

When filming:

These are by best tips, having learned the hard way (of course!)

Before you start though, know your purpose of having the camera there.

i.e. you need to be prepared, the team need to be ready, you need to know where, who, how long. You may need to get permissions etc. But a lot of this you will have dealt with before with more conventional filming situations.

VR is different, and you need to experience it to ‘get it’.

It is all about which senses you activate, and how you convince people ‘they are there’ – i.e. you have to work on how to help ‘suspend their disbelief’ to bring them into the scene.

As such, here come the tips:

1. Put yourselves in their shoes.

There are two ways to approach it:

a) They are a person. Not a camera. And you’ll want to talk with them in that way.
You’ll need to explore VR enough using various units to know ‘what it is like on the other side’, then whatever you produce will work better.

b) There is an alternative, which is to treat them as a fly on the wall, but it is hard for people to feel engaged when it is like this. BUT this is perfect for when you are filming people e.g. presenting on a stage.

As you can see from this recent live streamed event, having people ‘perform’ around the camera is one option, and having them ‘in front’ is another.

Trust me, knowing this is going to change everything you do with VR filming.

2. Call them ‘your friend’.

If you are going to ‘treat them like a person’, this has to be the most powerful tip I could ever give you.
When you then introduce people to ‘your friend’, you are connecting with them and making them feel ‘there’.
It is all about presence, and immersion, and inclusion. This helps the latter.

Yes, I worked this one out. It is about ‘inclusion’. So obvious when you know.

3. Look them in the eye, virtually.

They are a person. They, as we all do, connect with people when they look us in the eye. Don’t be weird and freak them out, but know that they will ‘feel it’ when you do so.

(h/t Ted Rubin, for his phrase ‘look then in the eye, digitally’!)

4. Always try to be ‘on’ when recording.

This does take a heck of a skill though – at a more advanced level you are going to need to be ‘on’ all the time’, treating them as your friend, including them in the conversation (as much as you can without them speaking – for now, that will come too, with live streams emerging soon enough).

5. Don’t talk too close. They are a person.

Remember this?

Exactly!

6. Sound is far more critical than you may have realised. 

I went to a lecture in San Francisco, guest of Gregory Gordon (introduced to me by John Gower from Dialectinc.com), at Pyramind Studios last year for a MindShare session.

The event was moderated by Clint Bajakian, with Mike Morasky – he was talking Virtual Reality and sound. And I’ve tracked down the clip:



It was absolutely brilliant.  

7. Use sound to engage and direct attention.

Use your voice to immerse them into your world – shift from side to side, move closer, whisper into their ears, you get the picture.

My mate Matt Hussey from The Next Week gave me the idea (I told him I’d blame him for this) and since then I have done exhaustive research in this, and spent endless hours immersed in content of a more adult nature to save you from having to. I did it for you.
(You can thank me here.)

Myself and Nivan Maraj (from Plantronics) had a great breakfast chat this week about the role of sound. The headset suppliers know this is true – sound increases immersion, and from what I’ve heard Platronics are a brand to watch in this space.

8. Know where most people will view the videos.

360 video and VR are not the same thing…
But they kind of are.
This makes it difficult as, if someone is watching on YouTube or Facebook e.g. on their mobile device (moving it around to see the whole environment), it is different to someone having a headset on. With the headset on, they are ‘in the story’.

9. Consider having sponsors, with banners in ‘the real world’.

And you can price as follows:
Front stage e.g. $10000 for a banner
Back stage e.g. $3000
It depends on the volumes of views etc. (that the videos will have) but people are ‘in it’ and their attention is being hit by that information. That has great value.

10. Use multiple locations in which to film.

Take people on a journey, inside spaces, hallways, on the terrace…
Also, you can set it up beforehand as to where you will be taking them, this will let them feel you are guiding their experience.

Right now (as of end April 2016) forget about Live Streaming VR. You are not ready, especially as neither Facebook or YouTube have announced it yet.

Although (news) there is a way to LiveStream into YouTube using a Insta360, the open source software OBS, and YouTube.
Here are (very poor) instructions. This is ‘hot off the press’ and still very early days.

Think ‘footage’. That means you can record, edit out the nonsense (which in itself is perfect for an extra ‘Vloopers’ real), and then package it up better.

Note: there are still loads of issues on cheaper cameras (sub $1000). We’ve played around and ‘stitching’ between the lenses is far from perfect. But we all know it will keep getting better.

Finally…

This is the very start to this whole industry emerging.
And as Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing World said when I was interviewing him for our own VR show, ‘this is perfect for conferences’. It really is. But you need a plan of how you will add more value than ‘simply filming’. 

Guess what? We are available for hire to come to conferences, interview your sponsors and your attendees, create some great footage that will show the world you are leading the way.

Interested? Please contact us here to discuss how we can help.

What is Altspace VR? Just about everything you’ll need to know.

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Introduction

AltspaceVR feels like the future.

And the Spaces is has created feel like Aech’s basement, or maybe a room where you could find a key to a gate.
(yes, references from the book ‘Ready Player One’ if you didn’t guess)

This is super-geeky, fun, and fast.

The team have created a 2D and 3D world, which really springs into life when you are in 3D of course.

Who is it for?

If you have a VR headset, you probably know about it already.

And I would say it is for the open minded, curious geek.

You can also host your own event (the usual is 30 people max, but you can connect them if you want to run something larger) as well as attend events hosted by the AltspaceVR team.

There is a fun ‘games’ aspect to it, including hosted events (like quizzes, and a sketchfest) as well as simply being a place to experience new 3D world.

You can also watch YouTube videos on a big screen, with your fellow Altspacers there too.

What equipment will you need?

There is a full 2D desktop version, but of course you will want to have a VR headset for the full experience.

These are the headsets that are compatible right now for the Virtual Reality experience:

HTC Vive

Samsung Gear VR

Oculus Rift

Note: I’ve spoken with the team and there is no plan to have a version that is compatible with Google Cardboard.

The Spaces:

There are many spaces you can join (start with the ‘Welcome’ Space),

altspace 1

Then you will be given the option to customize your avatar, choosing from the options to be a robot of a humanoid:

altspace 2

Then you are in the space:

altspace 3

altspace 4

altspace 5

And there are loads of Spaces, with games you can play:

altspace 6

And you can even create your own and invite friends to join you:

altspace 7

What is ‘SDK’ medium?

I asked the Altspace team to explain this…
“SDK stands for Software Developers Kit. We have an SDK for developers interested in building 3D web app experiences for our platform. They can code using the three.js javascript library, in addition to HTML and CSS. Our SDK developers are a big part of our thriving community. Some of the experiences they have created that Altspacers are familiar with include air hockey, or the globe that is often in the Welcome Space.”

altspace 9

How to connect with other people?

Let me run you through the desktop options in relation to this…

 

If you select ‘Social’ you will be able to see people online now. Just ‘Follow’ to add them to your list.

altspace 11

If you then click on ‘Following’ you’ll get suggestions if you don’t already have people in that list:

altspace 12

And if you are a little lonely (like me) you won’t have anyone following you back.

(aww) but you can share to Facebook/Twitter/Email…

altspace 13

And see if anyone else in your network wants to meet you in AltspaceVR too:

altspace 14

The culture

Everyone who arrives is still exploring, so know it is all ‘very new’.
The social norms haven’t settled yet.

The AltspaceVR team are super attentive though.
Any questions you have, pop by ‘The Welcome’ space and ask of the team a question.

They may well look like this:

altspace 10

You’ll need to unmute your mic to speak, but from there you’ll be able to ask questions and connect with people there and ready to help.

Applications

This network is growing very much due to the events they are putting on.

altspace 15

And as you can see by this Facebook post, they are very fun too, including the hottest VR party games:

Today, Join us with Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes for an AMA inside AltspaceVR at 11:00 am PST!

Posted by AltspaceVR on Friday, 26 February 2016

What would you say are the main applications? (ALTSpace)

The team says, “We are a communications platform committed to creating shared experiences inside virtual reality. This includes gaming experiences, like Dungeons and Dragons or our latest experiences Sketchy Quiz and Disc Golf, or meeting up with friends to watch YouTube or play your favorite Twitch stream. We also have larger entertainment events we host like VR Comedy and VR Storytelling for the users to come and enjoy each other’s company.”

Shared video watching

Watching YouTube videos together in VR gives a focal point of shared experience. And is something that is easy to explain to newbies too.
I had this experience in the Welcome room and all members stopped and watched – i.e. it held our attention completely.

How to record your session:

If you are keen to show people what’s going on here, you have a few options…

You can record you screen and upload to YouTube/Vimeo
You can live stream to YouTube (from your desktop)

You can record the view via your tethered Oculus

From the AltspaceVR team:
“If you want to stream via a desktop or desktop with Rift/Vive, that can be supported with third party apps. We recommend using OBS recorder (https://obsproject.com/) and setting it up with your YouTube account.”

Note: If you are using a Samsung Gear VR, it may be possible to record via the split screen/headset, but I don’t have the app as yet.

It is possible, but YouTube streaming is the recommended format for the widest array of functionality.  You can use an app like MirrorOP or Annotate Mirror Client for the Samsung Gear VR headset.

What does the future hold?

“AltspaceVR offers a new form of communication, where people meet, do things they could otherwise only do when they are in the same place, and really feel as if they are together. Products like Samsung Gear VR are making VR more affordable and easier to use, and therefore more accessible for a broad audience of consumers  For AltspaceVR, this enables the realization of our mission to make available the most natural, fulfilling and effective communication online to users worldwide.” AltspaceVR Team

altspace 16

And walking around in VR may not be far away, if you don’t mind more geek gear taking over your house:

Lots of fun, and something that is simply going to grow as consumers get their hands on devices, with Gear VR being the way in for millions this year. See you there!

What is Vtime? Just about everything you’ll need to know.

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Introduction

What is Vtime? Well, putting it simply, Vtime is a Sociable Network in Virtual Reality.

A place to connect with new people, and teleport to mind-blowingly cool places.

It is one of my favourite VR experiences.

And it is the closest to ‘real life’ social exchange you can have right now.
As such, I approached the Vtime team for an interview, and some quotes (see below) as to what we can expect.

It is hard to explain 3D in 2D words, but when the time comes I hope this guide helps.

Who is it for?

Anyone who wants to take a leap into how we will be communicating in the future.

What equipment will you need to use it?

You will need Samsung Gear VR (with compatible handset).

Or if you have a compatible device then you get hop in for early access for the Google Cardboard app here.

I asked the team, and they said they will be ‘supporting all major headsets’.
Also worth noting that when using headsets that require a mobile phone to run, there will be a compatibility list that will be limited to newer smartphones, as you’ll need processing power. Obviously the tethered headsets will either need a console or PC with the right specifications to run it.
Finally, in terms of specs – you will need headphones with a built-in microphone. At present, they do not support bluetooth headsets.

What’s it like?

Very cool. Very real.

For instance, when you move your headset, it will move the avatar’s head. But when you’ve entered a space and have other people there too, you can have directional sound – i.e. you will hear someone speaking to your left, and your attention will move there.

There are other very neat features too, including in a cold environment, like a cave or the Antarctic, you may well see your cold breath.

The destinations (think ‘Spaces’)

You’ll begin in ‘The Agora’.

vtime 1

This is me, on the left, having taken the picture using their new ‘Selfie’ feature.

And if you look around any of the destinations, you will see a lot is going on.
(I love the statues in the Agora, for instance)

But from there you can navigate to an ever growing number of Destinations.

Everything from the beach on Paradise Island:

vTime Paradise Island

And then to the Arctic Expedition, with a visiting polar bear (which I still haven’t seen), and an Orca….

vTime Arctic Expedition

Or to The Orbital in space:

vTime The Orbital (1)

To name just a few places you may want to visit. The team says there are more coming in the pipeline.

How to navigate

The Vtime interface is highly intuitive. Really brilliant.

All you really need to know is this: tilt your head back to see a ‘Silver Ball’ appear.
Stay here for a few seconds and a full menu will appear, before letting you select your Avatar, see connections etc.

There is an option at the top that says ‘Random Match’, which is a good place for you to start.

Once you start connecting you’ll begin to have a list of connections you can access from the menu:

UI_Screen_Bubbles_View_vTime.net_News

This is called ‘Bubble View’, but you can also choose list view by choosing the icon on the upper left, bring up this screen:

UI_Screen_List_View

Note: you’ll find that gazing for a couple of seconds is the usual way to select an option.

When you have friends for are online in Vtime you will be able to see their location.

Also, one cool thing you’ll find out, when someone who was the ‘host’ leaves, the next person who arrived in that location picks up the crown. What the others don’t know is that they also go back to the silver lined walls of the space aged industrial teleporter, and get to choose where they go next.

This is a nice ‘reset’ on the experience.

The experience, the culture

Know everyone using the platform is an early adopter, so it is all new to everyone.

As such, most people want to know a) your name, and b) when you come from.

The good news for new arrivals is that friendly guides like Will Hart have already emerged with the culture. They can give you some tips.

And as we know, for a sociable platform to succeed, it needs friendly people.

If people don’t have a good first experience they may well not return.

Vtime seems to be doing something right by letting the users build the community from the ground up.

Note: if you use your real name it may well be easier for people to find you on other social platforms. But many people are using pseudonyms (and we know that is ‘ok’, and necessary as an options.)

You’ll find out about new advances in the VR world if you listen to the people there – you are all geeks, exploring. You’ll get recommendations for new apps too.

And if you receive an invite to join someone, then usually they will be friendly.

This is how you meet new people.

Look to add a person as a friend once you’ve chatted for a while.

They will usually accept you.

(you may need to go back to the main menu to do this)

How to add someone as a friend in Vtime:

Look straight ahead, and tilt your head upwards 45 degrees to bring up the ‘silver ball’

Go to the menu, then to ‘Connections’ and see who you are ‘with’ and click on their profile to add as a friend.

The web interface:

You can manage your friends list here https://app.vtime.net/ and see who of your Facebook friends have arrived.

vtime 10

You’ll also see new friend requests here:

vtime 11

Finding friends via Facebook

This has to be the future right here.

Finding friends via Facebook will the easiest way for you to connect with people, but it will take time for them to arrive.

vtime 12

I mean, I have a load of geeky friends but when I clicked I still got this:

vtime 13

It’ll happen, especially once people can enter the spaces using Google Cardboard.

Applications:

Virtual meetings are the most obvious application, but I know the Vtime team have plans to have larger events and meeting available.
In other words, we could be looking at hosting virtual conferences before long.

From their team: “I don’t want to give away a full list of possible applications, as it may give our competitors ideas! The opportunity here is endless, as soon as people use vTime their heads start spinning with all the possible use cases. Our users are already using it for dating, meetings, language practice and more. We’ve been approached by myriad companies who can all see how vTime would amplify their current offering, and give them new tools with which to connect to their audience.”

In my view, Vtime will give you a quality VR experience with the ability to connect with people who have taken the leap as well.

What does the future hold?

With vTime, seeing is believing. You need to be in it to get it. In my experience, it’s a great way of understanding the true feeling of VR presence.

Paul Hollywood – Product Director.
And as you can probably tell, I’ve been exploring this territory for a few months now, and the Vtime team keep on adding new features that are keeping my attention.

As such, I asked Paul Hollywood for some extra insights, to which he replied… “To create that feeling of ‘being there’, we’ve used a number of techniques to make people suspend their disbelief; broad brushstrokes of spatial audio and head-rotation tracking, both built on top of stunning visual destinations. We then add extra layers, blending fine details of visual and audio effects, with interaction design always at the forefront of our process.”

I must say, it is mellow but exciting at the same time. New, different. Or in Paul’s words, “These subtle layers that vTime washes over you, plus the spoken words of another user, generate believable social presence that draws you into deeply connected human conversations.”

Paul Hollywood

vTime is a communication tool, the development of which will take us on a journey to many places in the future. In the next few weeks, they say users will be able to share images, videos and 360 media from their devices with others in vTime. They will be giving the community the ability to host events, and will open up the network to those without a VR headset with the forthcoming Spectate Mode. This is going to really increase the user base. So don’t worry, if you haven’t tried it yet you will soon be able to understand this all for yourself, and remember that tip about finding a selfie camera in the Avatar menu – you’ll love that as it is perfect content for Social Media too.

Finally, want to meet with other friendly people? Check out this Google+ Community here, run by Jens Graikowski.

 

What is Virtual Reality? Just about everything you’ll need to know.

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Introduction

Just in case you’ve had your head in the virtual clouds, I thought I would pull together and build up a load of resources you may well find handy in relation to Virtual Reality.

Below you’ll see a load of links in relation to ‘Virtual Reality and Marketing’, some ideas for business and guides to Social Networks in VR that you are going to want to try out.

There is also an ever growing list of cameras, headsets and apps.
Hope it all helps to orientate you in this new world.

Additional articles/videos on VR:

Virtual Reality and Marketing
What is Vtime? 
What is AltspaceVR 
Ready Player One? (getting you prepared)
VR and Local Business Opportunities (coming soon!)
VR and AR chat with myself and James Dearsley
Oculus Rift Developers Kit, my interview with Robert Klados
Oculus Rift Developers Kit (part 2), my interview with Ben Ritter

What is Virtual Reality?

“Virtual reality or virtual realities (VR), which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact with that world.” (source)

Virtual Reality (VR) is the next platform, and you may well be surprised how developed the eco-system has already become.
If you haven’t tried it yet, then you are in for a mind altering experience.

But as I read recently, it is very hard to ‘sell 3D in a 2D world’.

VR 1

Next we have Mark Zuckerberg letting us know this is a big play for Facebook.
They bought Oculus for 2 billion for a reason, and when you start to connect the dots you’ll see how your social graph (friends and family) on Facebook fits perfectly with virtual worlds where you can go anywhere in a blink of an eye.

In order to plug in, you’ll either have a tethered headset (i.e. linked to a powerful enough computer), or take a smart phone and slide it into headset.
There are very different quality of experience and right now ‘Oculus Gear VR’ is probably the best option in my view, but only compatible with certain Samsung phones. (see below)

With Google Cardboard bringing a taste of VR to the mainstream, we can see the race is on.
Just know, there is a radical difference in experience between a fully immersive headset, with hand sensors, and the entry level units.

Who is going to be using VR?

Everyone, eventually, probably.

Putting it simply, someone will be likely to one day say ‘hey want to try VR’ – and depending on the device will be the nature of your first experience.

Google Cardboard type devices will be the gateway into VR for most people.
It will be the gaming market that gets truly plugged in though.
Mobile devices need recharging quite quickly with VR usage, and computers mean you can log in for much longer periods.
Social apps are a lot of fun (see below), and there is of course a whole world of adult content emerging.
(I’ll be doing stand-up comedy on that one soon enough…)

Resources:

To bring everything together, I’ve broken it down in the sections below:
(I’ll update over the coming months/years)

  • The headsets
  • Wearables
  • The Apps: games and movies
  • The Apps: Social Networking
  • 360/VR cameras
  • Live Streaming
  • Movies about Virtual Reality

Before we get to that…

Know this is something occurring where some Apps are not available in all places.

In essence, you may have an App available in the Google Play store (which means it can be used with Google Cardboard) but it won’t appear in the Oculus Store.

On another occasion, some apps (like Altspace VR – see below) simply won’t have a Cardboard compatible version available, but others you will find in all places.

As most users are using Cardboard (or similar) right now, it probably won’t cause an issue but wanted to let you know things are still evolving.

Finally, I am focused more on VR than AR right now as that is where my experience lies. I’ll do another post on AR once we know a little more what’s happening (especially with ‘Meta’ and ‘Magic Leap, later this year).

The Apps

As such, I wanted to throw down a few Apps to get you started, especially as there are some really WOW experiences out there.

Ok, let’s start with my favourites:

  1. Evolution of Verse
    This is my all round favourite storyline. I won’t spoil it. Just do it.
  2. A Time in Space VR Cardboard
    This is a perfect ‘gaming’ space type experience, but as a storyline.
    A few minutes long, and a couple of versions available, I often tend to start people here to give them the VR experience.
  3. From Jaunt:
    Other Space VR
    This was only available on iPhone, but is now available in the Oculus Store.
    Enjoyable, immersive storyline.
    And Unicorn Island – was bizzarre! (I laughed a lot – it shocks you into it. Try it. You’ll see)
  4. Roller Coasters – this is an obvious place for people to start in VR as it is ‘relatable’ to a real world experience. And there are a few options…
    Option One in Play Store
    But I prefer this
    Cosmic Rollercoaster
    This is cool too (video)
  5. Real surfing – this is awesome, especially if you haven’t seen the ocean for a while.
    (When he tried it, personal development coach Derrick Henricks said ‘whoooaaa’ so many times – it’s like he was ‘there’).
    Surfing Subway (if you like the more surreal version of things)
    And there are LOADs of good wave videos on YouTube, and compatible with Cardboard.
  6. Keep talking and nobody explodes. ($9.99)
    (I’ve just started to explore this. It even has a Bomb Disposal manual.
  7. Proton Pulse Google Cardboard 
    This is rather fun. Like air hockey, kind of.
  8. Star Wars 
    The clips are short, but come on, it’s Star Wars so you’ll want to try it.
  9. Cardboard Camera
    This gives you access to an enormous amount of 360 images for you to explore
  10. Tomorrowland
    This shows how VR brings you to an event.

The Oculus Store itself it amazing – a world in itself. And the app on the phone is super simple for surfacing content. Congratulations to the team that put that together.

Social Apps

There will be blog posts in their own right, but for now here are the basics…

There are 3 main players in this space:

Oculus Social Alpha – you hop into rooms which have up to 5 people in. You are a ‘floating head’ but it really works. Try it out for sure.
(you’ll find it in the Oculus Store once you connect your headset)

VTime (a ‘Sociable Network) – I love how chilled this is. They have created dramatic environments for people to sit and connect with fellow avatars. If you want to understand what is happening in Social in VR this is a must.
(there are some really fun surprises in the animations; I’m sure Ready Player One’s Halliday would approve.)

AltSpace VR – there is a 2D version as well as a VR one. Loads of rooms, lots of fun, and a really responsive group of community managers who act as your guides.

Even though I think gaming will be the most use initially for VR, I think that when Facebook and Google begin to connect people via existing Social Networks, the scene will start to become very interesting as global communication tools.

Headsets

Due to the thirstiness of VR, headsets need a lot of processing power, and as such those that are ‘tethered’ will tend to give the most immersive experience, including the following.

Note: I’ve ordered them on their performance, not on a performance/price ratio – and have put the un-tethered ones first.

Samsung Oculus Gear VR: I’ve been using this now for around 6 weeks and think it is brilliant. Great construction, and easy to use.
You plug straight into the Oculus world, and we can only expect the social connections via Facebook (who own Oculus) to increase its value.

You do need a Samsung though (I have an S6) so that reduces ‘who’ can use it right now.
Although with the S7 being released this week (bundled with a Samsung VR Gear), people will start to find their way into the metaverse via this route more than before.

VR 2

Defairy – I really like this headset. You can’t access the Oculus store, but it is really well constructed. It is definitely more immersive than the ones you ‘hold to your head’.

Defairy

Google Cardboard – a classic. And well priced. But it is not as immersive as the ones above.
I even found it for $3 including delivery in the Geek App here (Android, but is on iPhone too. (note: cheap good means little hands people, little hands)

google-cardboard

Promotional – there are loads of promotional type VR systems I’ve tried and they all give you the experience, like Cardboard, so more options there too. (Thanks to VR marketing Pro James Dearsley for sending me this one.)

Eye Site View

3D printed headsets – you may even want to at having one made for you.

Then we have the tethered headsets…

Oculus (was ‘Oculus Rift’): you can buy the developers kits still, and the public release version will be in people’s hands early April ‘16 – click here for more. (you may have to wait a while as they sold out quickly)

I’ve tried the first and second developer kit versions and if the new ones are going to be better (which they will) then gamers will be very happy with the expenditure.

HTC Vive: I haven’t used this yet, but it looks great.
(There are now developer kits available)

It won’t be long until this space delivers more solutions, and we’ve heard Google are looking at a headset that doesn’t need a phone or a computer.

And with Apple eyeing up this space, well we know what that means. Some cool stuff will come our way soon enough. (with a price tag, of course)

John Gower

Wearables and ‘interesting stuff’

This is just beginning but with projects like this:

Teslasuit – a full body suit that lets you feel in a virtual world (note: Kickstarter campaign was cancelled – I’m guessing they raised funds)

MyndGazer – this project will take your brain waves and display them in VR. Yes, taking ‘putting your data’ on the Internet to the next level too.

Do you have a VR wearable you’ve like to be featured? Please contact us here.

Live Streaming, and Platforms

Around 10 years ago I discussed with entrepreneur Jon Bonnick how people would be streaming using their phones (think Periscope, and Facebook live).

(The thinking is not new, check it out from 2007, but now it is starting to happen.)

I would say that as alien as it seems, in another 10 years time people will be online all the time due to live streaming in our homes and workplaces.
People in business are talking about building transparency and trust, so imagine if people could access ‘the real you’, 24/7.
Ok, maybe it is a little sci-fi for today, and no need for us to take that leap quite yet.
For now we will see live streaming of content that we would pay to ‘go see’ – sports events, concerts etc.

NextVR has raised considerable funds for live streaming broadcasts, so we know it is on the way.

Livit – could be the next Periscope, but for VR. (news here)

VR Reality TV shows will come next.

With streaming ready fixed cameras like the one from ALLie we may well start seeing people streaming their lives online.
Update: June 2016 – you can easily stream to YouTube using Allie.

Storage is going to be pricey but with streaming services like Wowza.com we can see a model is in place.

VR 4

Cameras (i.e. for you to film content)

This is the most difficult space to keep up with.

As such I may just start the list and add to it once I’ve tried them out, or had feedback from the community as to what is working well.

I expect the cameras will increasingly live stream, and eventually become the size of your pineal gland, but until then we have…

  1. Giroptic (from research, this seems to be the best bet right now)
  2. Blackloud
  3. Bublcam (h/t Warren Whitlock for giving me the heads up)
  4. Samsung Gear 360 (not released yet, and page is blank right now!)
  5. Theta 360
  6. 360Fly (looks good at about $400)
  7. ALLie  (about $500 – can live stream to YouTube too)

Many more cameras I’ve been sharing in this Google+ Collection (now with over 1.3 million followers).

And if you are interested in storytelling in VR (h/t Robert Scoble) here is a great guide.

Movies about Virtual Reality

As you can see, we are already familiar to the concept of VR.

So I thought I would start to collect movies I find about, or related to, VR in some way:

Uncanny Valley
The Matrix
Inception
13th Floor
Vanilla Sky
Existenz
Dark City
(please let me know what other ones to add, and a link to YouTube!)

Mini-hacks

Want to use Cardboard apps on your Oculus Gear VR?

Go to the play store and download a ‘Package Disabler’ which will in essence prevent the Oculus start up process. Open the app and check all the boxes related to ‘Samsung Gear VR’ (I searched for ‘Samsung’ to find them) – there may be a more precise way but this worked well.

You can then use Gear as Cardboard – i.e. start and app and add it in. Once finished uncheck the boxes once more.

New lingo

For fun, I thought I would capture a few words that you will be using in relation to VR:

Presence – the most common word you will hear this year in relation to this is ‘presence’.
Immersion – as in, you feel immersed in these worlds
Immediacy – you can teleport to new places in an instant
Intimacy – you feel connected to the experience on an emotional level

What next?

The rumour is, plan by Google is for everyone to have access to VR, and we know AR is coming soon too.
The plan by Facebook and Oculus’ Virtual Reality is “how do they bring VR to a billion people”?
This is just the beginning.

Our imaginations create reality. We will enter new worlds.

Contact Us

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Get in touch and we will do our best to support you.

10 Tips for ‘Virtual Reality’ Marketing

By | Community, Virtual Reality, Virtual Working | No Comments

METAVERSE

Overview

Virtual Reality is the next platform, and as a marketer you should be aware this is a bit like the leap we took with mobile but far more advanced than you may imagine.
And Augmented Reality is going to take off once ‘Meta’, ‘Magic Leap’ and ‘Hololens’ deliver but until then we simply don’t know what will happen. So let’s focus on VR for now…

Metaverse 1

As you can see from Google Trends, it is really taking off (again!) but this time is it ‘for real’.

If you think you’ve tried VR by putting on Google Cardboard for 5 mins, you have not seen what is on the horizon. I love the concept of Cardboard, and other similar units, but it is the Oculus experience that shows you the ‘leap’.

And that too is getting a lot of attention in Google Searches:

Metaverse 2

So, why is it so different?
Well, when you enter Oculus, it feels like a newer, fresher interface than anything we’ve seen before:

Metaverse 3

You move your head to the left and you can select and view a huge amount of content in the store. You move your head to the right and you can ‘tap’ to enter your library.

It is a waste of time me trying to describe it. You are just going to have to dive in yourself using a Gear VR or an Oculus Developers Kit (until your new best friend down the road gets the full release version from April).

Orientation:

When it comes to getting your ready as a marketer, this is what you need to know about VR, and Oculus in particular:

Brand

  1. Apps – it is all about Apps in the Oculus App Store right now.
    If you are in this space you’ll know it already, and if you are not you either need to contact Dialectinc.com about getting involved, or look for other opportunities.
  2. Target Demographics – the big trends will be ‘gaming’ , ‘adult content’, ‘social’, and the age group to first get the units is likely to be 13-18 years old. There will also be a fair amount of geeks to market too that are 30+
  3. The range of devices – tethered devices give a far more immersive experience, but units like the Gear VR are a solid play.
    The new Oculus unit will be on everyone’s Christmas list for the next 2 years, but there are solid competing devices on there was too.

Community

Take a look at any new platform that has a social element. There are people who will lead the way. And when you have integration within apps of Twitch, Vimeo, and YouTube, you can see social becoming something new, as such here are some consideration:

  1. Shared marketing experiences – people watch videos together, which can be done in Apps like AltSpaceVR and Oculus Social Alpha. And I understand Vtime has some amazing develops on the horizon.
    This is an opportunity for all marketers, irrespective of ‘selling something’ in the Oculus Store.
  2. Influencers will rise in VR – before long those with the most trusted information, those best connected to the new cool companies will surface in the eco-system and become the next stars.
  3. Transfer of information is quicker – what is happening with ‘the latest’ new gadget the conversation that comes up time and time again.
    If you have something cool to promote, there will be hives of people waiting to spread the world.
  4. Home? – you will need to look where you house your community in VR, and how you can easily communicate with them outside of any one single app. 

Conversions

  1. ‘Attention’ is complete in VR – you will find people will pay much more attention, for longer.
    When someone is in an app, it is more effort (psychologically) to exit that app and go and try out a new one. At least to start with, people are not ‘flipping tabs’ on their browser in the same way.
  2. ‘Immersion’ – this means they are ‘there’ but what about them moving that attention to action. This is going to be a large consideration. What are you seeking for people to do? You won’t be able to say ‘enter this URL’ as they have their headset on.
    You can’t ask them to call a number without taking off the headset.
    There is an opportunity here to solve the problem of connecting with people who are paying attention, after the attention holding mechanism e.g. a video, or a presentation in VR, has ended. Finally…
  3. 360 live streaming – I believe that more and more people (within 3 years) will have an ‘always on’ attitude.
    As soon as 360 cameras can stream content from people’s homes (and further afield), platforms will rise. Free, and paid subscriptions.
    People will stream their lives, helping viewers to connect in a more raw way.
    It will be like BB’s diary room for some; and full time real life streaming for others.
    This is the one area that will meet any markers budget, and I would say the first platforms to discover the content are not far away.

Next steps?

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