Three Paths to Virtual Reality Adoption

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Technology is advancing faster than humans can adapt. What can companies do to leverage the progress in AR and VR, while also enabling people to keep pace?

Danna Kress is Senior Director, Strategy; Scott Lansing and Jason Rice are Senior Strategists; and Tim McGrew is Senior Analyst at Greenberg Strategy

Thanks to new hardware, new apps, and books/movies like Ready Player One, the lure and promise of virtual reality (VR) is prevalent; however, its adoption has been slow.

Understanding the benefits of VR often requires trial and experience, which is expensive and difficult for technology companies to manage. Plus, given humans’ inherent bias towards the status quo, it’s little surprise that only about 5% of North Americans currently own VR hardware.

Our Technology and Media practice team has worked across the emerging VR category, and has identified three ways to accelerate the uptake of this exciting technology:

1.  Leverage the technology that consumers already own
Augmented reality (AR) gives context for VR without requiring consumers to invest in expensive headsets or bespoke gadgets. The key to expanding the mixed reality (MR) audience will come when newly-developed and easy-to-use applications enhance peoples’ daily lives on devices they already own. With AR support becoming a standard feature in new smartphones, practical applications are right in our hands, making for a more intuitive AR learning curve.

2.  Focus on apps that can benefit anyone
Despite its challenges, VR has inspired curiosity in what’s next, paving the way for AR. Many consumers already experience AR through social media filters, or apps like Ink Hunter, Holo, and Google Translate. Pokémon GO was a tipping point in mainstreaming AR, with easy smartphone accessibility and the familiarity of a global pop-culture franchise. While the benefit of its success touched existing fans, mobile-savvy gamers, and early tech-adopting tinkerers, AR became more tangible when Pokémon GO became a household name. Developers need to create as many relevant, useful AR applications as possible; taking what we know of life’s important realities and using AR to enhance them – our workflow, our errands, and our time management.

3.  Groom consumers for practical VR use
As mentioned, approachable and serviceable AR already exists around us today. Amazon’s smart mirror provides a practical shopping solution by dressing consumers with AR-powered clothing (akin to how Snapchat lenses work) to help inform purchases. IKEA’s use of AR for decorating consumers’ interiors pushes AR’s practicality further, as does the use of AR first-down lines shown on our TVs during NFL games. Or witness the Virtual Cinema exhibition at SXSW that “emphasizes storytelling, ingenuity and showcases how other industries are embracing this new medium.” And consider the Nat Geo Ocean Odyssey in Times Square as yet another functional example.

Once consumers master the practical and social applications of AR, enough time will (hopefully) have passed to fulfill decades of VR expectations, and perfect the development of truly immersive entertainment experiences.

If you’d like to learn more about how people adopt such new technologies as VR and AR, please contact us at listening@greenberginc.com.