In 2016, two things happened that caused Singapore’s business and marketing psyche to be completely taken over by digital technology. Firstly, 2.82 billion dollars’ worth of technology tenders were called under the Smart Nation agenda, and second, Pokemon Go arrived at our shores.
The demand for creating virtual experiences in the field of marketing were off the charts. Our team produced multiple projects across the full reality-virtuality continuum and we were fortunate enough to observe thousands of consumers in different environments, interacting with different forms of virtual marketing content.
Here are three things we quickly realised mattered most to the consumer on the street.
1. Virtual experiences are simply better together
A solitary virtual experience is like being told that you are invited to visit the moon but would have to leave your friends and family behind to do so. When virtuality is designed as a shared experience, people tend to be braver and much more engaged. Pragmatic Singaporeans who are usually afraid of appearing silly suddenly open up and start having a lot more fun. That shared experience then becomes a common talking point and a great memory that can be brought up again and again over food and drinks. For brands that are looking for engagement and buzz, this is an invaluable gain.
2. Virtuality is more impactful when it’s seamless with reality
When the virtual and the real are near seamless, the magical nature of augmented content is dialled up. Just like in a magician’s show, people are kept in a state of wonderment. In some cases, deliberately blurring the lines between reality and virtuality can help brands deliver very powerful messages by challenging consumers to think deep about their perceptions of the physical world they live in.
3. Virtuality should be comfortable
This is one of the reasons why 3D movies came and went so swiftly. Most people would rather forego the 3D viewing experience instead of putting up with the physical discomfort of wearing those glasses. Anyone who has used VR headsets for slightly longer periods of time start complaining about VR sickness. Usage environments matter too. While headsets and tactile bodysuits look great on video, it just isn’t very suitable for a mass consumption event. Imagine being the 100th person pulling on that set of gear at an outdoor event in the humidity of Singapore’s blazing sun. It’s not a pleasant thought (or experience!). As virtuality techniques and hardware evolve, we should begin to see much better options in the way of physical comfort.
As we move into 2017, we are focusing more on helping brands get virtuality right, instead of just getting it done. And if social, seamless and comfortable virtual experiences are the order for the day, here are some emerging virtuality techniques that might be worth keeping an eye on.
- Face2Face is an experimental research that enables any actor to take over anyone’s face from any video material. Such a seamless augmentation of reality terrifies as well as excites me.
- Fairy Lights in Femtoseconds appeared in Siggraph 2015 and trials a beautiful technology based on volumetric projection using femtosecond lasers. Basically, an interactive hologram that can be projected into the air around us with the potential of turning virtuality into a naturally collaborative experience.
The writer is Stan Lim, regional creative director, Isobar Singapore.