Can virtual reality change how you book a holiday?
Virtual reality made serious headlines at CES and Mobile World Congress, but now the dust has settled, we’re asking – can it really have an impact outside of gaming?
Credit: Press association
Virtual reality is the biggest tech story of 2016, with headsets launched by HTC and Oculus and the emergence of proper VR video content.
The technology dominated smartphone show Mobile World Congress, and was big news at CES in Las Vegas – although much of the focus has so far been on gaming.
So how will the cutting-edge technology change other areas of life like booking holidays, enjoying music and house-hunting?
Content is key - particularly 360° video that puts you in the thick the action when watched on a VR headset.
With that in mind we caught up with a bona-fide virtual reality content guru on how 360° video will transform holiday research, and saw how one estate agent is using VR to show off super-swanky homes.
Booking holidays - feel like you’re on the beach from the sofa
‘If you think virtual reality is all about gaming, think again…’
So says Sol Rogers, founder of VR and creative digital agency REWIND - an approved content provider for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Holiday companies have been trying for decades to help us visualise being on one of their holidays. From writing first-person descriptions of places to tempting with videos of exotic locations.
Until now this is all we’ve had to go on when booking our fortnight in the sun – and there’s always the worry over whether what we end up with matches our expectations.
Now virtual reality takes things a giant step further by placing us slap bang in the middle of a virtual holiday without us leaving the sofa.
‘By putting on a head mounted display we’ll be able to feel like we’ve visited a destination without stepping on a plane; the ultimate research tool for any holiday planning process,’ says Sol.
When trying to weigh up one hotel over another, for example, you’ll be able to take 360° tours. Something that is, he says, ‘far superior to photos’.
This idea of a virtual tour was recently shown off by LG in a Virtual Tourism video.
Wonders of the world in virtual reality
The Great Wall of China, Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower –among the world’s most recognisable sights. And they all star in a new 360° video shot by LG on its 360 Cam.
The video was created to ‘depict famous landmarks in a new light’ as part of World Environment Day.
The 360 Cam has two cameras which can capture footage from different directions and perspectives to create a 360° effect.
This is how you could be researching holidays in the coming years.
From the beach to the gig – VR and music
Love going to gigs? You’ll soon be able to enjoy a similar experience from the comfort of your sofa. Donning a virtual reality headset to get ‘inside the action’.
Sol says people can ‘come face to face with their favourite artist, and connect on an emotional level with performances as if they were actually there at a gig or concert.’
And he should know, his agency created this amazing VR video for Bjork
Commenting further, Sol says virtual music videos provide a ‘brand new form of entertainment which has real value beyond traditional media’
Rooms with a view – VR and house-hunting
There’s a lot of schlepping involved in finding a new home – trekking round your chosen city or area viewing umpteen properties.
But what about if you could have a proper nosey around a prospective new home without leaving the estate agent’s office?
One property agency is doing just that – with the help of virtual reality technology.
Sotheby’s International Realty is the company. If you’re interested in one of its luxury properties, you can don a VR headset in their offices and enjoy a 360° tour – whether it’s in London, Paris or New York.
The unstoppable rise of 360° video
We’re on the cusp of a revolution in virtual reality video content.
Earlier this year Facebook committed to becoming ‘the best platform for 360° video’. Since then some 20,000 360° videos have been uploaded to the social network.
The movies too are embracing virtual reality. Samsung has opened a VR movie studio in New York, and cinema giant IMAX is working on a special virtual reality camera for shooting movies.