It’s the 2017 question of the newsfeed: Will AR and VR be the technology darlings to sweep social media and public relations off its feet? Cathy Hackl thinks so, Robert Scoble wrote a book on it, Magic Leap can’t stop Tweeting, I mean teasing, about it and Mark Zuckerberg gave it a $2B thumbs up; so Lisa Buyer put her headset on to see what all the buzz is about.
Realty: With apps like Pokémon Go and tools such as Snapchat’s Spectacles, the once distant sci-fi dream of virtual reality is becoming, well, a reality.
Back in 2011, Social #PR Chat’s Lisa Buyer said, “Augmented Reality (AR) technology places virtual objects around users through their smartphones and has the power to make the world around us clickable. Triggered by location or any image imaginable, this technology enriches everyday objects with digital content. It also allows for practical and useful experiences to happen immediately with the snap of a digital picture.”
But we’ve come a long way since 2011.
Buyer recently sat down with award-winning journalist turned AR/VR/MR/PR evangelist Cathy Hackl to discuss the trends, benefits, and future of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality.
But first, you’ll need to know a couple of terms. Let the acronyms flows…
VR – Virtual reality; when you put this type of headset on, you are fully immersed in what you’re viewing and cut off from the “real world.” Usually, a digital environment users are looking at, whether computer generated or 365° video.
AR – Augmented reality. Think Pokemon Go. The real world with a digital overlay or element added to it.
MR – Mixed Reality — A step above AR, MR allows for more engagement with digital elements in the real world. The ability to grab, expand, “touch” digital aspects.
Okay, now that you’ve got that down, let’s dive in.
So, what’s on their heads?
Hackl is sporting the Microsoft HoloLens, doesn’t it look stylish? Okay, but seriously, this. thing. sounds. awesome!!
As Hackl described, this headset is used mainly by developers, not the general public (for the time being — definitely not a developer, definitely want the Microsoft HoloLens…just saying). This baby runs from $3000 for the Development Edition to $5000 for the Commercial Suite, according to Microsoft’s website.
With different motions of your hand, you can manipulate the HoloLens in certain ways to perform different functions, such as typing in your email or pulling up a screen.
Buyer is wearing the Samsung Gear VR, but you need a Samsung phone to use it. It’s actually powered by Oculus, a VR/tech company started in 2012 by Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe. It sells at just around the $70 price point, but don’t forget, you need to own a Samsung cellular device.
Brands and AR/VR/MR and Social Media, Oh My!
AR/VR/MR — it’s not the future, it’s the PR present.
One brand Hackl mentions is Alibaba, an online platform for buyers and sellers out of China. Alibaba has recently launched Buy+ — in a nutshell, you get to shop “in store” wherever you want in the world (Macy’s in New York, for example) v i r t u a l l y. Over 8 million people have already used Buy+, and Alibaba is profiting off of this immersive experience for their customers. Hackl and Buyer predict that retail will be a popular market for AR and VR.
Another brand mystifying the mixed reality tech world is Magic Leap, out of Dania Beach in South Florida. The company is one of the highest funded startups in the history of startups. They’re due to release a mixed reality optical system as soon as next year.
Magic Leap, however, has recently been scrutinized in a “bombshell report,” as Business Insider claimed.
The Information published The Reality Behind Magic Leap that states that “Magic Leap may have oversold what it can do.” VP of PR at Magic Leap, Andy Fouche, recently left the company, some, like Develop, say because of the article.
Among these comical and elusive tweets were retweets from fan supporters like our very own Navah Berg (@Navahk), who wrote:
— Navah Berg (@Navahk) December 9, 2016
The controversy also resulted in a statement from the company after the new Chief Marketing Officer, Brenda Freeman came on board. It said, “As we sprint full steam ahead toward the launch of Magic Leap One, we are excited to have Brenda Freeman on board as our Chief Marketing Officer.” Some sites, like TechCrunch, speculate Magic Leap One is the name of this mixed reality headset! ~Exciting stuff~
Snap Inc., which owns Snapchat, has recently started selling Spectacles, glasses that capture 10 seconds of video that will link to your Snapchat story. Specs’ lenses contain a video camera with a 115-degree angle that shoots circular video. The glasses don’t act as a virtual reality tool, as they represent video that’s right in front of you, but they do take video in a unique way – circularly. According to c|net, you can’t purchase Spectacles online or in-store (yet, fingers crossed). Instead, you have to find a Snapbot — a vending machine Snapchat is shipping around the country that sells the glasses for $130. You can even “try on” the glasses using this snapcode, which you can also find on the Spectacles website:
Social, SEO, and AR
Hackl believes that the future of social media and AR technologies reside in “markers” or “check-ins” to places surrounding the average consumer. For example, you’re soon going to be strolling down the street with your super chic AR glasses and reviews for restaurants are going to pop up in front of your eyes, helping you choose where you’ll eat at today.
In PR? Here’s your checklist:
Start reading about VR. (Oh wait, you mean you’re reading about it right now? Check that off your list and give yourself a pat on the back. 😉)
Make sure to check out these resources:
- VRScout (Hackl happens to write for this site, so you know it’s good stuff)
- Read The Fourth Transformation by Robert Scoble. An excerpt from Amazon states that, “The Fourth Transformation is based on two years of research and about 400 interviews with technologists and business decision makers. It explains the technology and product landscape on a level designed to be interesting and useful to business thinkers and general audiences. Mostly it talks about how VR and AR are already being used, or will be used in the next one-to-three years.” You can also check out Forbes’s article about the book here.
- Follow these cool people on Twitter:
Follow @ScobleizerFollow @CathyHackl
Follow @lisabuyerFollow @ryan_a_bell
Follow @TheMaliaFollow @TheVRARA
AR & VR Guide for Beginners
So you’re ready to make the commitment and get some equipment. Where do you start?
First, you have to ask yourself if you’re looking for something for play and experience, or if you’re looking for something to create content as a developer.
If you’re working for a brand to create content, Hackl suggests learning Unity 3D, the program most everyone uses to create AR or VR environments. Another program is Unreal Engine, but Unity is more widely adopted Hackl said.
AR/VR Industry Darlings: Real Estate Travel
The early adapters win the race? Travel and real estate say AR & VR is nothing new. Real estate and travel use 360° videos to showcase properties or vacation destinations. Meanwhile, augmented reality is being used to plan exterior and interior decorating.
The Future of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, recently spent $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR. And Hackl believes that’s the direction Facebook is going. He recently demoed VR technology during a keynote at Oculus Connect 3. You can watch the video here on VRvibe’s YouTube channel:
3 PR Tips for Brands Wanting to Jump on this Tech Train
1. “It’s as simple as getting branded cardboard,” Hackl said. Wait, what?
You heard me right. Google Cardboard is “a VR experience starting with a simple viewer anyone can build or buy.” Prices for these range from $7 to $70. You can also get branded Cardboard with your logo on it. These are effective AND cost effective to us or even a great give away at events. It’s an easy way to show that your brand is innovative even if you don’t have any AR or VR content yet!
2. Create 360° videos.
3. Incorporate VR into your exhibit or conference.
It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be complex, but to have some sort of VR incorporated into your event will prove just how forward-thinking your company is!
Want to get more tips and tricks on VR and AR? Make sure to follow Cathy Hackl.
Edited By: Lisa Buyer Image Source: @AtlSpaceVR Image Source: Kimberly Harmann