The question is not if but when.
Can you imagine a website like ASOS converted into a virtual reality (VR) environment; being to able to see and touch clothing in 3D? Or how about being able to experience a theme park before you go? With VR headsets already hitting the market, Google Cardboard for instance, I really don’t think it’ll be long until brands start building parts of their websites around VR…
The reality – gaming rules VR
The focus of VR so far has been around gaming and if you haven’t tried it yet, please do – we have some at our offices, drop in for a coffee if you want to try!
At the moment there are a few popular options on the VR market – Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard (we’ve got a few!) and Samsung Gear VR. The real test of VR though comes in October this year when Playstation will launch their first VR headset. Gamers will be able to completely absorb themselves in a 3D world; fighting, driving, jumping and flying right in front of their faces.
But there are a few projects starting to move VR onto your everyday websites. Mozilla and Google already have a dedicated VR teams, already building next gen VR websites. However, the focus is still around gaming and gamification of brands. However, it all still feels rather gimmicky. At the moment it feels like VR will be established as just part of a website, perhaps for a bit of PR or as a hook in for website traffic.
But what I’m talking about is a model for an entire website based on VR. When will we get to that point where one company takes a leap of faith? At the moment big companies have too much on the line to make that sort of commitment. There’s always that fear that VR will flop like 3D cinema. 3D cinema will inevitably return as it develops even further but large companies don’t have time to wait.
But how would VR work on websites?
In my head it’s simple. VR would replace physical bricks and mortar shops. Users would simply put on their headsets and be able to walk down a VR high street. They’ll be able to pop into Boots to buy a toothbrush, go into the Nike store and try on a fresh pair of trainers and buy virtual milk at Tesco, that gets delivered to your door in minutes. We’re already seeing the ability of touch integration with VR, so it won’t be long until you can touch and feel products and even try them on.
Taking baby steps…
You may feel like I’ve taken a massive leap forward. Obviously this won’t happen overnight but will the culmination of tiny steps. We’ll have VR conferencing, better VR gaming and VR chat rooms before we have the first complete VR website. But what’s really stopping us is fear of the widespread social acceptance of VR. We fear that we’ll all become VR monsters with headsets strapped to our faces all day long and the inability to interact face to face. There are also other basic things to consider like, you may laugh, but what will happen to our eyes? Is it good for us to be hooked to VR devices for long periods of time? We’re already seeing the effects, pardon the pun, of staring at screens all day long on a number of different devices. This is what I think is affecting the evolution of VR:
VR gone wrong – Ray Ban’s ‘Virtual Mirror’
Not added to the list above is the the possibility of companies getting VR wrong, or not using it to its full capability. Take the ‘Virtual Mirror’ from Ray Ban. Their website app allows you to try on different pairs of sunglasses using your webcam or smartphone. It’s a good idea but poorly administered. It lack the glamour and sophistication that should come with VR. It also has very limited functionality and is something you get bored of very quickly.
It demonstrates how some companies are trying to grasp VR but not really putting enough resources behind it. However, this is the type of experience that could be taken to the next level. How about the opportunity to try on glasses in Virtual reality and being able to look into a real life mirror?
Back to reality
We’re a curious bunch at AB and love testing new and exciting things to try out when it comes to websites. We want to know how ambitious are you about your site? Do you want a future proof website? If you want to ‘break the mould’ to quote VO5, why not get the curiosity bug by getting in touch here.
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Author: Tom Bridge
Tom is a ball of energy. He runs, he cycles and loves his tech. When he gets a moment to sit down he loves content marketing, writing blogs and building brands online. Tom has experience in multiple sectors including automotive and finance as well as digital.