Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have become increasingly mainstream and a worthwhile venture in many industries. VR and AR development can be applied towards gaming, entertainment, marketing, education, fashion, art, and so much more. Early iterations of VR existed as early as the 1950s with what was known as the “Experience Theatre”, later named the “Sensorama”, built by Morton Heilig. It could encompass and trigger all of the senses in an effective manner, thus drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity. As for AR, the first versions were introduced in the 1990s by Louis Rosenberg, who developed Virtual Fixtures at the United States Air Force Research Laboratory. It’s safe to say that in some way, AR was born from VR. While AR adds digital elements to a live view, often by using the camera on a smartphone, VR is an immersion experience that shuts out the physical world and transports the user into a realistic or imagined environment. Brands looking to capitalize on the unprecedented opportunities being made available through these new technologies are ramping up their AR/VR strategies.
Let’s look at Conversive, Co-founded by Kevin Cornish who calls it, “a conversation engine for building face-to-face conversations”. He says,”Imagine putting a face on (Amazon’s) Alexa, and in the entertainment space, imagine having conversations with characters from your favorite shows.” He did just that back in May last year with Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why series. The day before the much anticipated second season was released, fans could participate in “Talk to the Reasons,” an interactive mobile experience that puts you in the center of the 13 Reasons Why story. Fans would begin to receive texts and notifications from the show’s characters, and if the user’s microphone and camera were on, they would actually receive FaceTime calls from some of those characters who would warn you to stay out of harm’s way, ask you for advice on what to do, or vent their feelings. This intense bit of AI and augmented reality at work is meant to make users feel like they can really impact the story when they watch the next day. Super impressive!