It’s Saturday morning and you’re front row at New York Fashion Week. Not only are you front row, but you’ve settled into the best seat in the house right between Anna Wintour and Alexa Chung. The clamoring crowd quiets as the lights dim and a mellow beat fills the cavernous hall. The opening model glides out and there is an audible murmur of intrigue. Critics begin scribbling furiously and bloggers snap pics of the highlight outfits.
Then your phone rings. LOUDLY. No one moves.
Anna hasn’t budged; her eyes are glued on the sleek black ensemble striding down the catwalk. The rest of the audience hasn’t moved either. Your phone continues to ring. You sigh and wish the person would just leave a voicemail. You take off your virtual reality headset to see who’s calling.
Once thought of as a fantasy of the distant future, virtual reality soon might be as common as a smartphone.
In 2014, TopShop hosted an event where visitors to its flagship store in London got to experience the front row through virtual reality headsets. Many other brands such as Coca-Cola, Merrell, Marriott and others have used this technology to create immersive experiences for their consumers. But virtual reality had been limited to the big companies who could afford it, until now.
With consumer products like Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR gaining traction, virtual reality is heading in a promising direction for widespread accessibility and usage. The current models look like heavy-duty space goggles that wrap around your head; they range from $99-$3000. But if you don’t want to splurge, you can still get in on the action. Google released a low-tech version called Cardboard, which is literally a cardboard contraption that turns your smartphone into a virtual reality viewer; it sells for $30.
Virtual reality has suggested applications in many fields such as medicine, travel, education and more, but for brands, this is the next level of consumer interaction. It’s an opportunity for them to create tailored experiences that are reflective of the way they want the consumer to use their product or understand their brand. This tech could be the key to creating a more engaging and interactive brand, not to mention an easy ticket to a wild concert or tropical destination. With experiences available within reach to anyone, anywhere and at any time, the possibilities limited only by our imagination. What kind of virtual world would you like to see?