In an age where we are overwhelmed with instantly accessible content, coupled with ever-shorter attention spans, could immersive technologies be the key to successfully engaging audiences and users? Speakers from companies including The Telegraph, The Royal Opera House, The Economist and Save the Children will be coming together at VR World 2017 – http://vrworldevent.com – to discuss exactly how we can harness audience interest and empathy using VR, AR and MR.
The Economist’s deputy editor Tom Standage tells us a bit more about the VR projects they’ve been working on: “We’ve put out three VR pieces: a reconstruction of the Mosul Museum and artefacts within it that were destroyed by Islamic State militants; an offbeat tour of Osaka, shot as a 360-degree video, including visits to a fish market and a bath house; and an animated explainer about the perils of overfishing, in which you see things from the perspective of a diner, a fish, a fisherman and a politician.” He adds, however, that understanding how to fully utilise immersive technologies is still very much a work in progress. “For journalism, VR offers huge potential in storytelling, immersion and visualisation. But we are still trying to work out exactly what that means in practice, and how to integrate it with our output on other platforms and in other media. Ultimately, though, rather than having a reporter explaining what’s going on somewhere, VR can actually put you into that situation.”
Being able to make the reader feel that they are actually present in the midst of a story “affords new techniques with new types of storytelling”, explains Matt Simmonds, Creative Director of Video Content at Telegraph Media Group. “Consumer attention is a premium commodity, we're now able to create stories and experiences that were impossible with film or video.” And a glut of available content means generating new ways of telling a story is vitally important today more than ever, as Emilio Vacca, The Telegraph’s Director of Mobile points out. “Customers and, more generally, users are overwhelmed by the amount of content, free or paid, that they can find basically anywhere, via any device. There are only two ways of getting traction for a story: it’s either something that quickly goes viral, or the customer is engaged because of the quality of the content.”
Immersive technologies are primed to be the next big thing not only for the media and publishing industries, but for healthcare, construction, engineering, retail, marketing and hospitality, and the list certainly doesn’t end there. But is it all just hype? “Enhanced reality is a set of technologies that we in the media industry cannot simply dismiss as a gizmo, but we should actually consider those as a new medium, like cinema was many years ago. They are technologies that we don’t know yet how to use at their best, but that we need to experiment with in order to define the rules.”
And journalism certainly isn’t the only form of media that’s hoping immersive technologies will be able to better harness audience engagement and interaction: live events such as concerts and theatre are also looking into what VR and AR can do. The Royal Opera house has been experimenting with VR 360 experiences that let users learn more about the process of making opera and ballet. Tom Nelson, the venue’s Creative Producer, elaborates: “We are plagued by the fact that we only have a finite space for our ‘product’ – our reach is limited by the size of our theatre. In recent years, cinema screenings have allowed millions more to experience live art. We see an opportunity in immersive technologies to reinvigorate our centuries old art forms of opera and ballet, telling old stories in new ways.”
Charities, too, are exploring the possibilities of immersive technologies, and how they can be used to bring people closer to the work they do. Organisations such as UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontiers, and Save the Children are creating VR films and using them to increase awareness and help drive income. Jess Crombie, Global Director of Creative Content at Save the Children, tells us that VR films can help “bring our stories to life creating intimacy and impact with the viewers.”
In general, then, the overriding sentiment is that AR, VR and MR technologies can provide an excellent way to capture and hold audiences’ attention, although businesses must first fully understand their potential before they learn how to best to implement them.
About VR World
Now in its 2nd year, VR World 2017 is a 2 day conference and exhibition focused on Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality and its impact beyond gaming.
With 4 in-depth event tracks and over 150 leading speakers, no other European event covers the market in as much detail.
Amid unparalleled networking opportunities, attendees will have access to visionary speakers and case-study led content. Hear from inspirational keynotes and thought-provoking panel discussions from key players redefining the boundaries for technology.
Register now to reserve your place for THE VR, AR and MR event of 2017.