The myriad of virtual reality applications being tested by brands is as varied as the brands themselves, ranging from sports to banks to entertainment and medicine. Below, 11 examples of how VR is changing industries, and the brands leading those changes:
1) FOX Sports used VR in partnership with NextVR to live stream its US Open coverage with the PGA to FOX Sports locations in New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver, marking the first-ever multi-camera live broadcast in VR. NextVR tested its live VR system with the NBA, NHL and MLB and previously teamed with Fox Sports on the Nascar Sprint Cup Series.
As Intel noted on its blog, “The typical words we hear are, ‘Holy…!’ Whatever you want to say,” said Brad Allen of NextVR, an on-demand virtual reality broadcasting company from Laguna Beach, California. As a sports fan and the executive chairman of the six-year-old company, Allen is genuinely excited about the future of virtual reality and sports.
NextVR’s business model is focused on a technology called “lens-to-lens,” which specializes in beaming athletic competitions of all varieties in 6K resolution to virtual reality viewing devices around the world.
2) The Dallas Cowboys are now the first NFL team to use VR as a training tool thanks to STRIVR Labs. The technology allows players to pull on an Oculus Rift or other headset, “then watch scrimmages recorded by 360-degree cameras attached to players’ helmets.” STRIVR is providing the Dallas Cowboys and several other NFL and NCAA Football programs VR and helping with #11 below, too.
3) China’s first VR/AR theme park is being developed by Landmark Entertainment using its proprietary concept L.I.V.E. (Landmark Interactive Virtual Experience), a combination of VR and AR. Tony Christopher, Landmark CEO and founder, tells Fortune, “We’ll combine education and entertainment into one destination that’s always evolving.” As Fortune notes, “Fusing art, culture, and retail with virtual reality, augmented reality, and themed architecture and design, each complex will include an interactive museum, a virtual zoo and aquarium, a digital art gallery, a live entertainment stage, an immersive movie theater, and themed experience retail.”
4) Cirque du Soleil, now co-owned by Chinese backers, has partnered with Felix & Paul Studios to release “Inside the Box of Kurios,” a VR experience combining film and a video game that puts viewers inside a steampunk world of clowns, gymnasts and aerial performers from the company’s “Kurios — Cabinet of Curiosities” show last year.
5) Samsung helped produce the VR documentary, David Attenborough’s First Life, is running at London’s Natural History Museum through September, taking viewers on an exploration of the sea floor and its inhabitants 540 million years ago. The immersive experience uses Samsung Gear VR headsets with Galaxy S6 smartphones to view the 15-minute CG experience from Atlantic Productions and its VR studio Alchemy VR, “the first time VR has been used as a significant part of a museum project,” said museum director Michael Dixon. “This is a compelling example of how technology can revolutionize how we experience museums.”
6) Red Bull Air Race is a VR simulator experience with Oculus Rift that debuted at Ascot 2014 “to create a thrillingly immersive, true-to-life simulation of the Air Race experience. Using cutting-edge scanning technology and with the help of satellite imagery of the course itself, RewindFX has built a stunningly accurate recreation of the Ascot air track, rendered in glorious high definition detail.” Red Bull Media, meanwhile, is gearing up to produce more original programming in VR with “the idea is to put the camera in the sweet spot of a concert, for example. We’ll give you the option to put on a virtual reality device and then you’ll be transported to the middle of a concert, the top of a mountain or the middle of a huge event.”
7) In Hong Kong, VR meets spin class for the Immersive Fitness classes in an indoor gym studio with a 270-degree virtual-reality screen designed by Hong Kong-based Pure Fitness and New Zealand fitness giant Les Mills. “The Trip” is a 35-minute journey through remote reaches of the galaxy.
8) The medical world is taking note of VR to treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder using the Oculus Rift headset to create settings such as a Middle Eastern-themed city or desert road to be avoided to help recovery. “Oculus has done a great job of keeping themselves front and center and making themselves the product that everyone has to be compared against,” said Brian Blau, Gartner research director, to Reuters.
9) Always looking for new customer enticements, the hospitality industry is testing VR. Marriott led the way by “teleporting travelers” last fall to the beaches of Hawaii and downtown London in a 4D virtual travel experience.
10) Fintech is a big focus for financial services brands, and VR is on the leading edge of R&D. Wells Fargo, exploring tech partnerships to reach millennials, has been testing VR at its digital innovation lab as it seeks to reinvent the banking experience along with its fintech app for financial literacy called Stagecoach Island, a free, multi-player, online role-playing game it first introduced in 2007 as a Second Life outpost. Capital One has also been experimenting with VR, as Fast Company notes, while Fidelity is testing Oculus Rift to view stocks and shares.
11) Academic brands are naturally experimenting with the sociological implications and applications of VR. Stanford University is a leader in VR research, including conducting experiments in overcoming phobias and prejudice using Oculus Rift headgear at its Virtual Human Interaction Lab. The school’s football team is also benefiting from VR research: Derek Belch, a former Stanford kicker, is helping his alma mater pioneer new ways for quarterbacks to get experience without ever stepping on the field thanks to virtual reality, again thanks to STRIVR Labs, which is not only helping NFL teams (above) but also working with several brands to create sports experiential concepts in stadium and out.