Friday 18 November 2016

Guest Blog: Immersion Doesn’t Have to Mean Isolation

At seeper we use creative technology for live events and installations and VR is an odd one for us. On the one hand clients are interested in the novelty and immersive experiences we can create with VR. On the other hand, once wearing a VR device the physical venue matters less if at all - and arguably undermines our client's business, which is to offer destinations that are worth travelling to - whether that be a visitor attraction like a theme park or museum, or an experiential event for a brand. At my Develop:VR talk I'll explore this in detail, and look at technical and creative solutions. For this post I wanted to flag up five of the challenges we face:

1.         Disconnecting your senses from the real world.. in public.

We’ve evolved to use our senses for matters of life and death. We may not be in danger of being mauled by a sabre tooth tiger while enjoying a VR experience in a natural history museum but we might just be in danger of having our handbag swiped! There is something disconcerting about surrendering our awareness of what is happening around us in a public space. We need to mitigate this…

2.         Bumping into things!

VR systems that allow you to move around present problems at home too, but in public spaces the additional fear of walking into walls or into total strangers is heightened. I recently had this experience at Bjork Digital, when pairs of guests wandered around in an enclosed space and we were all distracted wondering whether we were about to clatter into one another.

3.         Interacting with hosts

Pretty much any live VR experience requires some guidance from support staff, whether that be practical advice on adjusting focus or helping users navigate an interactive experience. This presents problems for both the user and the host in communicating and for the host in understanding what is going on.

4.         Interacting with products

We’ve looked a number of times at how a brand’s product, typically drink brands it seems, can be incorporated into a VR experience. The challenge is how to enable a VR user to pick something up, or even to place something in the hand without mishap.

5.         Interacting with other visitors

The destination experiences we create are for groups, and often families. Immersion in the virtual can mean disconnection from the shared experience. On a thrill ride, part of the fun is exchanging excited thoughts as the ride starts to move, or watching the reaction on a friend’s face.

Come by the talk at Develop VR where I’ll be sharing the solutions we’re developing at seeper.

Ed Daly is managing director seeper and is a speaker at Develop:VR. His session 'Immersion doesn't have to mean isolation' will take place at 16.45 in room 2.

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