Companies Are VR Ready But…Are We?
And by We I mean we, the people. The consumers.
Which are the main concerns people have when it comes to VR technology? Without doubt, the most common is the price. Regular folks are not sure they can afford such sophisticated piece of technology, and that without even knowing how much it actually costs.
The most reluctant towards technology may think that it is a dangerous thing: the isolation risks, its potential addictive quality, that ‘it messes up with your brain’.
Then there are those that, although enthusiastic about VR, are reluctant to buy a device. What if VR bombs, just the way it bombed in the past? Nobody wants to get stuck with an 800 buck device that will soon be dropped by its developers.
And of course, my fellow colleagues (the psychological community) are always the first to come out with mental disorders derived from technology. The new pathology in question is called Teleneurosis and, even though it still has not been backed by any official authority, the name is around. We will talk about this more in detail later on.
What is to be VR Ready?
The first answer that comes to mind is being willing to be thrilled. Also, a disposition to believe that this technology ‘is not Sci-Fi’. As long as people do not believe it is real, VR does not stand a chance.
However, to call this science fiction is to deny reality. The Morning Ticker reports that, during May 2016, more than 1 million users enjoyed Oculus Rift. And that leaves out all the other brands, so you go figure.
Most conservative people will not concur, but the vast majority of the globe is willing to be thrilled. More even so, certain demographic groups (such as tweens, Z Generations and even Millennials) have such a natural disposition towards technology that it only seems logic to take this next step.
The ‘it’s affordable’ strategy.
Cardboard is the quintaessential representation of cheap. Generations and generations of children building forts out of cardboard cannot be wrong, right? Because cardboard is not only cheap, it also brings back the concept of playful. With a single move, Google combined two of the most valued assets among the consumer: good price + the promise of entertainment.
A couple months ago none other than McDonald’s Sweden jumped on the VR marketing wagon and released the Happy Goggles.
Looks like McDonald’s has no concerns about little children wearing VR headsets (Sony, Oculus Rift and other companies have set age limits, warning that devices should only be used by 12+ kids).
Be as it may, this McDonald’s marketing move is brilliant for two reasons. One: it -for the lack of a better word- uses kids to introduce parents to the VR world. Most 6 year-olds already have a Master’s Degree in technology, one parents can profit from. Two: it sells Happy Meals like crazy!
I will add a third reason why this move is brilliant: VR goggles look kinda scary to be honest. Those empty eyes, shining that blinding light that seems to drill your soul – OK! I might be overreacting a little, but those eyes are creepy alright. However, the creatives at Mc Donald’s found the perfect solution: when you turn the box around, you will find that signature smile of the Happy Meal. As a result, VR devices will not give kids nightmares any more.
The explosion of the mind.
The kids are ready, so their parents had better be! It is known that children and teenagers are usually the ones to introduce parents to technology.
When using a VR device, especially for the first time, the senses explode. Virtual reality creates the most intense experience technology can provide, at least so far. The brain is absolutely wide awake – more awake than ever before. It may have a teensy bit to do with the isolation factor, but the technology itself is responsible for most of the experience.
Why is VR so apt for advertising? For the same reason it is the perfect platform for education: because the brain has never been more prone to receive any message. Even though attention and intensity may not seem to mix, this 2.0 generation of devices provide a user experience such that every message gets through.
Advertising relies heavily on subliminal though processes (by which your brain receives information without your conscious mind realizing it). Imagine the intensity with which the user can get a message, either subliminal or not, with this technology. A brain under a VR simulation is like a sprinter’s lungs just before the finish line: everything gets in, everything is absorbed, everything is noticed with unprecedented clarity.
Remember this Teleneurosis I mentioned before? It has to do exactly with these two characteristics, isolation and intensity. The advocates of this so called disorder believe that there are potential risks in the (heavy) use of VR. Teleneurosis is a disorder in which the individual uses the technology to pathologically escape reality. Which eventually leads to the subject losing the ability to distinguish reality from simulation. A techno psychosis of sorts.
Without proper research and case studies, the existence of such mental disorder is mere speculation.
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