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REWIND’s Salesdrive service lets potential car buyers browse from the comfort of their home | Photo source REWIND

5 Ways Brands Can Connect Using Virtual Tech

Advertising & Marketing

How can virtual and augmented reality best be used by brands to connect with consumers? What we learned at Createch 2019

It’s no shock that virtual reality has gone way beyond video game consoles, but to market a kitchen faucet?

We spotted the kitchen and bathroom manufacturer Dornbracht earlier this year showing off its VR experience during Milan design week. The installation transformed the simple act of using a kitchen faucet into an immersive interaction with eccentric water droplets and other shapes.

Interactive VR like this puts those participating at the heart of the story, and not just as a viewer. In this way, customers can get to know brands in an entirely new way.

We continue to see virtual reality being embraced in innovative ways by businesses, several of which were highlighted at last week’s Createch 2019. The London event explored the global ecosystem of businesses merging creativity and technology, highlighted by the Createch Ones to Watch report. It featured 50 UK-based projects and innovators, which we were proud to curate for the Creative Industries Council.

A key focus of the conference was on how brands can use VR and AR to create new experiences that engage consumers. With this technology developing at a rapid rate and falling in cost (a quality VR kit can be had for as little as £170), brand strategies need to evolve.

“Technology will continue to transform our experiences and is the fourth industrial revolution. Look at the speed these things took to reach 100 million users. The telephone took 75 years. Instagram took two years. Pokemon Go took one month,” Rory Byrne of the global creative agency Imagination told the audience at the event.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are five UK innovations we found that show how this technology can be used by brands to make more engaging connections with customers.

High-level AR stores

Photo Source: HoloMe

Storytelling platform HoloMe uses high definition human holograms in AR to change the way brands communicate with their customers.

The HoloMe software is automated and works directly with an organisation’s in-house systems to capture visual content and convert it into an experience. The conversion process is extremely fast, which allows businesses to mass-produce content and AR campaigns quickly.

Products displayed in the AR stores are shown true to scale. This provides potential online buyers with a much more thorough way of examining items and considering different options, whether it be a kitchen or a pair of trousers. Users will be able to access the content through a smartphone or tablet with minimal data usage and processing power.

Virtual car dealer comes to you

Immersive content production studio REWIND’s Salesdrive service lets potential car buyers browse from the comfort of their home. During the interactive VR appointment with a dealer, customers see the vehicle from multiple angles and can try out features for a real-time inspection.

After a meeting, analytics including heat maps that show where customers were looking can help dealers further tailor their presentations. And with multiple users able to attend an appointment, the entire car-buying process becomes more collaborative and easier to arrange.

A toolkit for immersive experiences

Focused on using creativity to transform businesses, Imagination’s XPKit Connected Experience Toolkit helps brands build and assess experiences, from permanent installations to immersive showcases and more.

“We need to shift from relying on ‘tech-literate’ people to developing ‘people-literate’ tech,” Byrne said at Createch 2019.

XPKit comprises four modules. XPKit Content assists in the creation and delivery of digital material. XPKit Social optimises sharing and data capture of UGC at brand events. XPKit Immersive supports companies in connecting and broadcasting virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences. And XPKit Analytics allows teams to see in real time how an event is being received by the audiences interacting with it.

App turns shoppers into super models

Photo Source: SUPERPERSONAL

Using only basic measurements and a recording of a few of the user’s head movements, the SUPERPERSONAL app turns ordinary shoppers into models.

Customers can try out both style and sizing before buying, as well as get a much more realistic idea of how an item looks in motion on a person (themselves) rather than a mannequin.

The app combines AI with state-of-the-art visual imagery processing. For retailers, that translates into cost savings and efficiency increases when they use the model swap option in the app. This option allows the clothes to be photographed once, and a range of models and accessories added and styled as needed. A virtual fitting room with personalised recommendations is also part of the commercial version.

A virtual furniture showroom

Opendesk is a global online furniture marketplace that connects customers with local makers. The company recently introduced its AR virtual showroom for iOS.

Potential customers choose a design to preview and then click either object mode or AR mode. Object mode shows the item in detail, from all angles, as per regular online shopping. AR mode places the piece of furniture into the virtual version of a shopper’s home or office space for a realistic demonstration of look and feel.

The above were selected for the Createch 2019 Ones to Watch, produced by the Creative Industries Council with the support of Digital CatapultLondon & Partners and Springwise.