by Seth Photopoulos

There are two things humankind has craved since they were able to stand up straight: to destroy the sun, and to escape the world as they know it. Or, at the very least, take in as many experiences as they can. The sun thing still holds up though. And in humanity’s exploration of other worlds, there is one nascent realm where the possibilities truly are limited to the imagination — virtual reality. What other technology tricks your mind into believing that you’re on a tropical island, climbing Mount Everest, or planting bombs on the sun?

And if you think businesses are being left behind, then you’re probably being left behind. That’s not good if you’re trying to get your product into consumers’ hands. So why not catch up? There are plenty of ways to integrate your brand into the virtual world.

Just take a look at what Sage Gateshead did for its tenth anniversary:

This is doubtlessly self promotion, but subtle self promotion. Like a lil’ dark secret. They focused on creating an experience for the consumer rather than selling tickets to their music hall. In return, a customer is actively playing a commercial to themselves for minutes, and possibly, hours at a time. Like a modern day Pepsiman, but with artistic integrity.

Virtual Reality is new enough that a consumer will be drawn to it almost instinctively. Present the technology and the reason to use it, and you have them hooked. By VR’s very nature, it takes the whole of a user’s attention, so they can be marketed to without distraction. Because it requires the user to wear a headset and earphones, it’s possible to stimulate their other senses and fully immerse them in the virtual landscape.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Marriott — one of VR’s earliest adopters. Guests step into a device known as a teleporter while wearing an Oculus Rift headset and some headphones. The Oculus and headphones offer the audio/visual experience, but the teleporter sprays mist and regulates temperature to match the location they’re trying to present.

Take a look for yourself:

Marriott also makes sure to tell their guests that they have a hotel in every location they virtually traveled to. That part isn’t so subtle, but their brains remember it when they want to go to Hong Kong. Brains remember a lot.

Well, what about enhancing a product? Roller coasters are crazy enough right? What about strapping a VR headset on while riding them? That’s where Six Flags comes in. And judging by the old, dancing man who served as their mascot for a while, Six Flags certainly knows crazy. So what does Six flags have attached to the roller coaster? A sci-fi video from the perspective of a fighter pilot. Shooting aliens down, getting shot at, shooting Six Flags signs — a lot of shooting.

Crazy, right?! Especially the people holding their arms up straight the whole time. But what’s even more insane is that the coaster is still doing loop-de-loops and the headsets aren’t falling off. So the coaster will still be doing exciting things without the VR enhancement, it just wouldn’t be as cool.

But out of all the experiences you can share with VR none is more powerful than the emotional. BeAnotherLab runs experiments with the purpose of eliciting emotional responses via VR. As their name suggests, they focus on generating compassion by allowing a person to become someone else through the Oculus headset.

Charity-type organizations can use VR’s empathic aspects to appeal to people’s compassion. Unicef set up tents on the street so that they can show the average pedestrian how it is to live in a refugee camp. Many more people donated to the Syrian Crisis when they were able to visualize the atmosphere present in the camps. The people on the street commented on how they felt like they were connected to the refugees.

Whoa! Still here with all that hot VR technology in the world today? Well, hopefully you can get caught up while the technology is just starting. Or not. We don’t control you. But if you need some help to come up with something, contact us.