How virtual reality is changing the world of content design

By: Rachelle Dragani

The immersive experience is inspiring a new way of seeing things

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Virtual reality isn’t just for gamers anymore. Forward-thinking designers, teachers and video producers realize the immersive experience drives higher user engagement than traditional video. As a result, innovators are adding new depth to TV broadcasts, corporate training and other businesses, including ones that aren’t filled with deadly zombies or killer squads.

Old school TV is looking to virtual reality for a new level of creative  inspiration. Using green screen technology, a TV director can place a reporter inside of a digital storm swell to demonstrate the havoc created by a hurricane.

During this year’s Tour de France, Danish broadcaster TV2 took sports coverage to a new level by having commentators move 3D bicyclists around a virtual track, showing how the race could shift over time. In another impressive use of VR-style graphics, Televisa Deportes placed life-size World Cup soccer players around their studio.

VR-equipped wearables open up many possibilities, including new opportunities for advertisers. For example, three people walking down the same street wearing VR glasses can be served personalized ads instead of strolling past a billboard that’s barely noticed.

"As VR technology regularly uses object recognition and HD graphics, mobile devices are hitting processor limits," said T.J. Vitolo, Head of Envrmnt, an AR/VR technology organization within Verizon. “In the near future, 5G will rapidly close this gap and greatly expand mobile VR capabilities. 5G coupled with mobile edge computing will supercharge object recognition capabilities and greatly boost mobile graphics, enabling the creation of new and exciting consumer use cases."

The impact of VR is also being felt in the design process. Many architects, for example, replaced their wood and cardboard building models with headset walk-throughs of new projects. These 3D prototypes enable the creators to check proportions and get a better sense of what it’s like to live or work in a planned home or office. Architects also use computer generated walk-throughs to give clients a clear understanding of the spaces being constructed.

The immersive experience and inability to look away also makes VR an incredible study tool. When people learn via VR, their retention rates are 75 percent as opposed to five percent for reading and 10 percent for video, according to the National Training Laboratory.

The power to shape better employees is already changing the enterprise training space, said Danny Belch, head of partnerships for STRIVR. The company uses VR for training at corporations like Verizon, BMW and Google as well as several pro sports teams.

“STRIVR is already seeing its customers cut down on training time, improve recall and retention rates, improve confidence, reduce injuries and accidents, and improve overall employee engagement,” said Belch.

VR is addressing problems in ways that couldn’t have been done even just a few years before, when clunky hardware and slower networks made augmented reality solutions less practical, explains Vitolo.

As the technology continues to evolve, the way content is designed will change with it and open creative opportunities for entertainment and learning.

All of this may only be a sliver of how far VR can go.

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About the author:

Rachelle Dragani is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn who regularly covers science, technology and innovation. Her work has appeared in TIME Magazine, Gizmodo, and Popular Mechanics.

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