The potential application of VR with Purpose is tantalising. While previous generations of VR found traction in the military (for training simulations) and automotive industries (for visualisation and design), the accessibility and affordability of today’s technology mean all businesses and organisations should consider VR a legitimate channel or format for their purposes.
2016 also saw a number of other trailblazing organisations create new experiences which begin to hint at the transformational power of the VR, both for businesses that created them and the audiences they are made for.
Science Museum’s Handley Page VR: Mathematics of flight
Museums experimented with VR as a means to contextualise physical exhibits as well as standalone attractions in their own right. The Natural History Museum’s success with First Life, narrated by David Attenborough has now led to a longer term commitment for the use of VR. Preloaded also launched the Science Museum’s first VR project, exploring the use of VR as an innovative tool to aid in the interpretation of a brand new physical gallery.
In journalism, the New York Times continued to put the reader into the heart of the story with the award-winning use of 360 degree video in its NYT VR app. The Guardian’s foray in VR took us into solitary confinement with the powerful 6×9, demonstrating the power of presence to bring difficult stories to life.
Guardian’s 6×9 – Solitary confinement
Forward-thinking charities embraced the power of VR to create empathy with their audiences. The Autism Society showed us what it’s like to suffer from this neurological condition and Alzheimer Research UK, gave us a glimpse of what it’s like to suffer from dementia in A Walk Through Dementia.
Google spearheaded the use of VR in classrooms with Expedition, a virtual field trip experience designed to inspire kids by taking them to places they can only dream of visiting. This was a strong demonstration of how VR could be successfully used in a social learning context.
Broadcasters also dipped their toes into 360 video and interactive VR, exploring how the medium can be used to make topical and historical content both relevant and personal. In the UK, the BBC led the charge, with standout content such as Easter Rising – The voice of a rebel telling one person’s perspective of the 1916 Irish uprising, and the poignant first-person refugee experience We Wait.
BBC’s We Wait – Refugee Crisis
With VR experiences being likened more to ‘theatre’ than any other medium, it’s no wonder cultural institutions have also embraced it. Most bold was the National Theatre and the establishing of their immersive storytelling studio with the standout Wonder.Land, a surreal VR experience to accompany this piece of musical theatre.
VR is also being championed as a way of delivering physiological benefits, with health organisations adopting VR for far-ranging purposes from pain relief to post-op delirium. While more research is needed to validate the efficacy of VR in health, the anecdotal feedback is incredibly powerful.