We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.Roy Amara
We can interpret this quote quite literally. To emphasize the meaning here, we have to take a look at the famous hype cycle. Virtual Reality started as a technology trigger, people were looking forward to it and it all looked very promising. As a result, VR had a peak of inflated expectations. Many companies wanted to use Virtual Reality from an innovative perspective, however the content itself was not important. The technology was the added value, the content wasn’t. Right from the beginning of Soulmade, our goal was to free ourselves from this disillusion. Soulmade focuses purely on matters where Virtual Reality will create added value and avoids situations where it will be of no use.
Virtual Reality is a technology that works effectively if it is used in the right way within a company. Don’t create 360° videos for something that does not require it. In your everyday life you do not have the need to look over your shoulders every minute. That is why Virtual Reality must contain an element that triggers the viewer to experience a full 360° experience. In other words, the experience that the viewer has to have, has to contain good content but the viewer has to have the urge to look around.
But … The real question is WHY you should use Virtual Reality in your company. Below you can find an enumeration of nine reasons, each application is being outlined and substantiated with an existing case to link the theory to practice. After two years of experience with Virtual Reality business development and the the development of many VR concepts, Soulmade has a clear vision of what works and does not work.
First and foremost: do you want to create an experience? Are you looking for an immersive situation? Do you want to leave someone in someone else’s shoes? If your answer is yes to all of the above, then Virtual Reality will work for your company. It is the ultimate tool to immerse people in a situation and give them a certain feeling.
Take for example our first case of Doctors Without Borders. In this case you can fully imagine yourself as a victim in a mass disaster. Another example are the cases from POM Limburg. The first is one where you can experience what it feels like when you are a wheelchair user and you end up in an unadapted company. In the second case you are a foreign company manager and you notice what it feels like to be discriminated.
How to turn something non tangible in something tangible. Virtual Reality is suitable for making products and services more tangible, which otherwise scores low in terms of tangibility. Does the concept of tangibility sound strange to you? Let me sketch it for you. Take for example a service consulting. When you purchase a service, you only know what the result of your purchase will be after it has ended. Sometimes with services like education the results are only known years later. This is in contrast to most products, then you usually know or see immediately what you are buying. So the key to good service marketing is making your offering more tangible.
An example of this is our case for Dupont, who had developed a new, more fluorescent safetysuit. They appealed to the expertise of Soulmade to make the purpose of this suit more tangible and known at fairs, through Virtual Reality. In the VR film, two different scenes of a life-threatening situation can be seen. These take place in a mine where there is a lot of smoke.
In the first scene, the new safetysuit is not used. Result? You stay behind alone, you are lost and nobody comes to help you. The other scene shows how the new safetysuit saves your life because you can still see your colleagues through the smoke and they also stand out with their more fluorescents suits. That way they can also see you and you will be saved from the situation. In this way, the fair visitors experience a life-like situation where the suit proves its utility.
The purpose of this safetysuit is made much more tangible by using Virtual Reality. With great satisfaction Dupont had the production dubbed in seven different languages for fairs all over the world.
The ability to distract people from unpleasant things is an art. With Virtual Reality you can really respond to this. It is used to make people who have a serious illness such as cancer, during chemotherapy not to focus on their pain but on other experiences.
The university hospitals Saint-Luc in Brussels use a Virtual reality application, OnComfort, which ensures that patients with cancer are distracted. They experience less pain, less anxiety and they feel more comfortable during a treatment. The first results were extremely positive: a 56% decrease in anxiety after only 18 minutes in a VR experience. The other results were also favorable: a decrease in pain by 45% and a decrease in taking painkillers by 80%.
Is there a focus required from your product or service? Virtual Reality can offer a good solution. This VR technology can offer an interpretation here, in terms of marketing and in terms of training. People are very focused when they are in a VR simulation. There is no distraction as the viewer is completely isolated in terms of image and sound. This is a unique opportunity for as in our daily lives we are continuously stimulated by everything that happens around us.
We illustrate this with a second case from Doctors Without Borders. This production shows you how to build a field hospital in an emergency situation, as quickly as possible. Focusing is very important here because volunteers use this simulation to learn how to build the field hospital optimally and quickly. This speed is essential for saving as many lives as possible. This Virtual Reality training helps to save people and their lives worldwide, that turns out in the worldwide use of it. Since then Doctors Without Borders logistics department had two other similar productions produced by Soulmade.
With simulations you make people aware of the realism in Virtual Reality. This is an important aspect in the list of functionalities. The ability to recreate a real life experience with VR is impressive. Think of situations that can be difficult or impossible to imitate in real life.
A house that is on fire can be perfectly simulated with Virtual Reality but in reality it is impossible to put someone in a burning house. In this VR simulation you experience how fast and serious a situation like this is and this gives unique opportunities for training. Because of the huge immersive experience it can feel very real.
An example of this is our first collaboration with BASF. A Virtual reality training to train new employees was realized for this exact purpose. It is too dangerous to train with new employees in a chemical plant, but at the same time it costs too much money to shut down the chemical plant. The solution here is a simulation, which saves you from the many risks and unnecessary costs. In this way the chemical plant does not need to shut down and the employees are trained in a safe way.
Another functionality of Virtual Reality are User Analytics. Within Soulmade we have designed a system that scans which things the viewer sees at what time in the film. This way a ‘heat map’ is created. This is a representation of the aspects that are most looked at and focused on. With this technique we can determine what elements the viewer has paid the most attention to and how long this was looked at exactly.
By collecting this data, you can build up good market research and take your product or service to a new level. This collection of data is very objective. People often do not realize that they are followed and mapped in their action and what they see. They are so carried away in the experience that they are unaware of the tracking of their data. Nonetheless, it is important to know that it is only permitted in certain research situations.
A Virtual experience in a store is a good example here. You let someone walk through a store and you get data of what people are paying attention to and what they are not paying attention to. Certain items will receive much more attention, others are hardly noticed or even completely ignored. This is golden information for visual merchandisers.
Proprioception is an important factor within Virtual Reality. This probably unknown word means that you can control your body parts with your brain. It is the ability to perceive the position of your body and body parts.
An application of proprioception within Virtual Reality is rehabilitation. This allows people to help recover from, for example, a stroke or serious burns. It can give them the feeling that they have control over their body. In addition, people with paralysis can be given the subconscious idea that they are standing or walking for example.
A first case for this is our own Diet Virtual Reality case. This Virtual Reality experience shows you how your body looks with different BMI’s. With this we want to make people aware of what impact another BMI can have on your body.
Another example case comes from the Antwerp neurorehabilitation center TRAINM. Here one makes use of Virtual Reality to get people to rehabilitate. The purpose of the therapy is to aid in the recovery of parts of the brain that have failed for various reasons.
This scientific article proves that Virtual Reality rehabilitation works more effectively than other techniques. The general use of VR programs, especially designed for stroke rehabilitation, is increasing enormously.
Cost saving experiences. Recording a Virtual Reality video is often quite expensive but it can help you to avoid extra or larger costs within your company. There is only one larger initial cost, which is easily refunded because you can use the VR production countless times. In this way, unnecessary costs can be saved.
With Soulmade we have several cases where this cost saving aspect was an important factor, whether or not the main reason for the production. The foregoing will be made clear by our own Hilti’s case. Within this case, the manager will give you a personal tour of the building. This is something he would otherwise never have time for. Because he has made a Virtual Reality film of the tour, he saves a lot of time so he can focus on his other work.
Another application is fitness Virtual Reality. They want to use it to guide people around, in order that they do not lose time giving the tours. Here you also have a win-win situation as you only have to take this tour once and there is only one single cost. In addition, Virtual Reality allows them to give the tour and continue their own work, without giving the tour themselves every time.
Virtual Reality is highly customizable. Firstly through the User Analytics. Thanks to the collected information you can perfectly determine what people are looking at and what they focus on. This allows you to customize a Virtual Reality experience according to what a person is looking for and you can also send them in specific directions. Tracking data in VR has become much easier, which is why personalization is also much easier.
Our first Virtual Reality film ‘Paradise’ from 2016 is a good example of this. This is known because it is so progressive in terms of VR technology. Depending on the viewing behavior in the film, the audio and the use of color will adjust. Soulmade has designed our own intelligent system, which ensures that the experience of each viewer is unique. The same system is used to let the viewer make a choice to determine their own path, by letting them make a choice to where they want to go. For example, the viewer can choose to go through the left or right door. For that reason the viewer experiences a personalized journey.
To conclude: Virtual Reality is a technology that with its many functionalities can offer added value to companies and organizations. If you only want to use it because it is ‘cool’ and ‘currently hyped’, then you better not opt for it. It is a top product and extremely suitable if you are looking for one of the many functionalities that have been explained in detail above.
First you create a huge realistic experience with Virtual Reality. This will enable people to focus optimally on the virtual reality film. In addition, non-tangible elements can still be converted into something tangible. Subsequently, Virtual Reality provides good distraction for people with a disease such as cancer, for example when they receive chemotherapy.
Another functionality of Virtual Reality is rehabilitation. People recover better, faster and feel as if they have regained control of their bodies. Furthermore, we can state that the simulations of Virtual Reality contain a certain expertise and experience that are considered to be ‘real life’. Moreover, VR experts can make the Virtual Reality experience highly customizable for the viewer through the use of User Analytics. And lastly, you can save a lot money by using VR as it only requires an initial cost but can be reused numerous times afterwards.
So, now you know what to do with Virtual Reality. But how about Augmented Reality? More to come soon!
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