Virtual reality has been one of the most talked about trends this year. But does the technology live up to the hype? And how can marketers use it ...

VR – towards a more humane experience?

Virtual reality has been one of the most talked about trends this year. But does the technology live up to the hype? And how can marketers use it in their jobs?

The Frenchman Antonin Artaud coined the term virtual reality (VR) in his 1938 novel collection. But the word didn’t get its breakthrough until much later.

Today VR is used among other things to educate soldiers, ease patients’ pain, and create new interactive experiences. Marketers are currently experimenting with the technology, which still has a long way left before it can reach its full potential.

The founder of Wired, Kevin Kelly, has an optimistic view about the new medium and boldy predicts that:

“We are moving with VR into an internet of experiences where there are things that are felt, emotional, shared. Experiences are going to be the new currency. You’re going to buy experiences, download them and share them. VR will become the most social of all the social media.”

Experiences are thus the currency of the future, according to Kevin Kelly. VR’s biggest asset is its ability to contribute to more interactive experiences. Here are a few examples of VR experiences that have affected audiences.    

5 minutes in homelessness
Virtual reality has for instance been used to increase the understanding for the homeless. In the film ”5 minutes in homelessness”, we follow people from Gothenburg who via virtual reality get to experience what those who are homeless experience every day – the violence, the despair, the vulnerability and loneliness.

The Migraine Experience
Migraine is a lot more than ”just a bad headache”. Excedrin created a VR campaign with the aim to help migraine patients make themselves more understood by their peers. How does it really feel to get a migraine attack? In this video, you’ll see how family members, friends and colleagues react to the ”migraine experience”.

Three stories about refugee children
Close to 60 million people were refugees during 2015. Half of them were children. The New York Times chose to do a multimedia report of the event. The result was ”The Displaced” – a combination of texts, images and VR movies that told the stories of three refugee children.

The multimedia format was so successful that the media house decided to invest more in VR. NYT VR project is more proof that the written word can work well with the digital, virtual format. Such a development creates countless more opportunities for organisations to tell an engaging story.

Summary
Homelessness, migraine and the refugee situation are a few examples of how virtual reality has been used to increase the understanding between people. Experiences are valuable tools for learning and development – whether they take place in a virtual space or in the real world.

Which experiences will you create for your audience? Start with an insight or an event and then make sure you execute on it creatively. Then you will tell stories that truly stand out and engage your audience.