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By: Zubeida Goolam

VR and AR (Virtual and Augmented Reality) have long been used in various forms to tell stories.

In the 1990s, 3D movies were only in their infancy. We played virtual reality games at arcades and longed for a future where we could be Marty McFly from Back to the Future. Skip to 2018 and we’re living in a digital-first society where VR and AR are becoming commonplace.

Clever games like Pokemon GO have you catching monsters in real world environments using your smartphone. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have AR face filters that have changed how we take selfies. Devices like the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR are bringing VR experiences to the general public.

This year many more companies will take the plunge into these technologies to elevate their storytelling. AR and VR are key to telling stories that resonate.

The difference between VR and AR

AR is a live view of a real-world space in which visual, auditory and other sense-based elements are “augmented” into the physical world.

By comparison, VR is a computer-generated simulation that the user is immersed into using a VR headset. The total immersion factor of both AR and VR are their greatest selling points.

The storytelling applications of AR and VR

Today people are looking to engage with brands and companies in meaningful ways, beyond simply scrolling through social media feeds, which is where AR and VR often come into play.

Companies need to think of ways to share their news in using these modern tools of the trade. For example, strong applications of emotive VR storytelling are exhibited at the Future of Storytelling Festival in New York each year. A strong example is RIOT, a live action film that responds to a participant’s emotional state through AI and machine learning. The technology uses facial recognition to allow someone to navigate a riot, where your emotional responses to situations and characters determines whether you live or die.

Within AR, a business that is at the forefront is Snapchat, a multimedia messaging app. Snapchat are well-known for their layered ‘lenses’ which alter the world and faces of people around you with layers of graphics and designs. In one instance, they partnered with popular American artist Jeff Koons to share his larger than life sculptures through digital lense installations across the globe.

The only limitation for these technologies is your imagination. Narratives can be delivered on epic cinematic scales, or as detailed engaging experiences from the comfort of a smartphone. Companies and brands can turn their messaging into innovative experiences that set them apart. AR and VR can help brands connect to their audiences on a more human level. This is where the future of storytelling lies.