Unless you are an avid photographer, there is a good chance that you haven’t purchased a standalone digital camera in the last couple of years. Like most of us, you are likely to pull out your smartphone when you need to take photography on the go. Smartphone cameras have evolved to the point that for most of the consumer market, smartphone cameras will suffice. To a certain extent, smartphones are cannibalising the sale of standalone GPS and navigation devices, portable music players, and even tablets. A smartphone has become an all-powerful all-purpose device pushing aside standalone devices with ease.
Valuable insights can be drawn from the plight of standalone devices for the future of virtual reality. While the likes of Facebook are investing hundreds of millions in creating standalone VR devices like Oculus Rift, Google has taken a more practical approach by focusing on VR through smartphones.
Google is working with smartphone makers to ensure that future smartphones support Google Cardboard, a device with a fold-out cardboard mount for a mobile phone. Through the use of Google Cardboard, Google is providing a low-cost entry point for the masses to get accustomed to virtual reality.
If history is any guide, developers will only invest in a technology if it has critical mass appeal. As a company, you may choose to wait and see whose product becomes the next great hit or whether it goes the way of Nintendo Virtual Boy. How do you choose whether you want to develop apps for Oculus, Samsung Gear VR, or PlayStation VR?
With Google Cardboard, you are essentially building a mobile app and extending your capabilities at a minimum cost. The fact that Google has gone wholeheartedly into VR with Google Cardboard support for applications like YouTube, Street View and Google Maps, means that it sees the long term value for the platform.
Our 2016 predictions
We, at See Inside Group, believe that 2016 will be the breakthrough year for virtual reality. Not only will you see a launch of multiple headsets that were under development over the last couple of years, but you will see exciting applications that will revolutionise how we interact with our world.
In 2016, Google Cardboard will continue to make headlines as companies and enthusiast find innovative ways to use this technology. Could the next daring Red Bull sponsored jump from space be broadcasted live in 360 degrees via Google Cardboard? Will our next generation of activists arm themselves with VR tech to enable us to experience what it feels like being at a rally to bypass the linear view that we see now? The possibilities are clearly endless.
This will also be the year in which we will start seeing advertisements within virtual tours. The talented folks at WalkInto introduced pay per click ads within the free enhanced virtual tours they host.
As virtual tours and virtual reality take centre stage, we can see how marketing spend could increase within this sector. Imagine walking through a virtual tour of a supermarket with Google Cardboard and coming across an advert by an FMCG company touting a special offer for shampoo. Although, we imagine that these innovations may be in their infancy, we feel that we will continue to see brands focusing on refining their omnichannel capabilities.
Embrace change but don’t break the bank
If you are a small or medium-sized enterprise, how can you take advantage of the surge of interest in VR? The solution is to start simple; you could commission your next promotional video to be a 360-degree video hosted on YouTube. You can mail inexpensive branded Google Cardboard devices to your prospective clients and they will be vowed by the immersive experience.
Even if you are on a really tight budget, you could commission an interactive Street View Trusted tour of your business, with each site viewable in 360 degrees through the Google Street View application. Not only will you be improving your online presence, but you will be giving people a chance to step inside your business just as they would in real life.
Don’t wait any further, contact us today and we can help you with the most economical means of bringing your business into the virtual world.