Last year was big for VR Hardware. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Google Daydream finally shipped. Big time players like Lenovo announced they'd be entering the market. And Samsung sold an eye popping 5 million Gear VR units.
But 2017 will unquestionably be the year of Content. Because as we learned from the video game console wars, content drives hardware adoption. The question is: what content will companies and individuals be making this year?
Obviously games and entertainment will be huge. But other industries are starting to recognize the value of virtual reality too. With over 10,000 users, we at InstaVR have unique insight into what types of apps clients are making.
So without further adieu, here are the three industries we see as being most disrupted by VR in 2017:
Education has come a long way since my childhood. I used to go to the library to read The World Book Encyclopedia to learn about the world. Then came the Internet, with images & text from across the globe at the touch of a keyboard. Now all we have to do is strap on a Google Cardboard or Gear VR to be transported to an immersive experience in a different part of the world.
The key to education is creating a learning environment that is both sought after by students and memorable. VR provides both of these facets.
Immersive 360 experiences are like field trips -- without having to leave the classroom. There's always a great feeling of joy when I show my nephew a cool new VR app. It truly makes learning fun.
But it also makes learning sticky. Because VR is so unique, the things you can learn within a VR experience are more easily retained. There's also a level of interactivity via Hotspots that makes the learning experience more vivid. Books are great -- I try to read at least 2 new ones every month -- but images and video in VR provide a whole new way of learning.
Examples of InstaVR Clients in the Education Space: A major DC museum uses InstaVR to allow students to visit it virtually from anywhere in the world, a Journalism school at a large public university in the midwest uses InstaVR to augment its coverage with embedded 360 VR images, and a graduate student in Cairo uses InstaVR to present Historical Cairo in VR.
E-Learning has been big for the past decade. Is Virtual Learning next? All signs point to yes.
Training is all about simulating an environment and allowing the trainee to become more comfortable and knowledgeable. 360 Videos and Images take training to the next level. No longer do you physically have to occupy the same space as a trainer.
Training -- particularly educating employees -- has often been costly. You have to send a trainer out to a far-flung office location, paying for their time and travel. VR allows one trainer to simultaneously train multiple employee groups worldwide. And from the recipient's standpoint, the experience is so much more vivid than through a 2D monoscopic video or series of images.
Examples of InstaVR Clients in the Training Space: A Canadian hockey coach uses InstaVR to show how to do on-ice drills, a California-based non-profit uses InstaVR to train therapy students how to interact with potential patients, and a California-based learning solutions company uses InstaVR to train customers nationally on how to do advanced auto repair.
I've written a bit about this before. Marketing is challenging in this world of 500 tv channels and endless web pages. Virtual Reality gives marketers an ability to create a unique and memorable experience.
One of the better applications of VR I saw in the marketing space last year was the 360 experience created for The Blair Witch movie sequel. Movie advertising is both competitive and expensive. Creating a viral, immersive, scary VR application was inevitable. Going forward, I think we'll see a lot more of this.
Brands are starting to recognize that being "tech forward" has a lot of value. Even the venerable New York Times shipped 300,000 Google Cardboard units a few years back. But not many marketing agencies have people well-versed enough in Unity to program VR apps themselves. InstaVR gives these companies a way to get into VR and meet company's needs at a cost-effective price point.
Examples of InstaVR Clients in the Marketing Space: A major Japanese marketing consultancy uses InstaVR to give clients a quick & easy way to distribute VR applications, a European agency uses InstaVR to give fans of an automaker the opportunity to virtually kick tires, and a Texas-based marketing firm helps home builders give virtual tours of model homes.
As you can see, VR is transforming a lot of industries. Content for the various VR platforms will explode in 2017. The question is how will you use VR to create engaging and memorable experiences for your audiences?