Long gone are the days where people were only able to look at things as outsiders, when the only option was to watch a story or observe catalogue pictures designed by someone else. Modern technology has enabled the creation of much more immersive experiences, and things like virtual reality and live streaming are changing the way we watch films, play games, and shop. Now that the furniture giant IKEA has jumped on the VR bandwagon, more businesses could soon be following suit.
IKEA is famous for its catalogues in which every room of the house is shown in a range of different designs, and its huge warehouses that allow customers to explore and see how things look for themselves before buying. This form of display helps home owners visualize how items will look in their own homes, and the method has helped IKEA become one of the biggest furniture outlets in the world. It is, in fact, number 41 in the Forbes list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands with a value of $13.5 billion as of May 2017. But now that there is virtual reality available, why should customers have to tire themselves out by walking around the sprawling Swedish store? The top dogs at IKEA have realised that this is an area that needs to be addressed, and have created a pilot VR app which allows customers to explore a virtual kitchen. The virtual shopper can then change the colour of certain surfaces and furniture, add products and remove them, and explore what their ideal kitchen looks like in practice.
However, IKEA is somewhat behind the times when it comes to offering a more immersive online experience, as other industries such as the online casino sector have been providing this for their customers for a while now. While online casino software providers are still scrambling to create games for VR, some sites are offering an experience which is just like Las Vegas thanks to the live links available to real tables and games. Instead of having to visit the famous strip or even enter a local casino, players can now interact with real croupiers via webcam, making use of tech such as OCR and 4G as they stake on classic games such as roulette and blackjack.
Something else which is getting the immersive and interactive treatment is storytelling. Some children’s books over the years have given readers the chance to choose the way the story develops, but according to the Guardian this is now an option for TV series and films geared towards adults. One example of this is Her Story, which is described as a cross between Luthor and Jonathan Creek. Viewers watch the film in a non-linear fashion, as they choose to follow up leads and solve a crime. Games such as Until Dawn have also experimented with this, and it could be an exciting new way to consume media if more writers follow suit.
The rise of these immersive online experiences and the way they are changing important sectors like entertainment for the better, is one of the main reasons why VR is predicted to be a major platform in the years to come. In a few years when the headsets become more affordable, nearly everything could incorporate some aspects of the new technology.