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In January, new reports on Apple’s long-awaited augmented reality/virtual reality headset were released. And if what’s in these reports is even true, Apple is poised to give the world one of the most jaw-dropping, powerful pieces of technology in history (again) — which is why it was a bit surprising that this news didn’t make more of a splash.
The same company also holds lotteries to give away tickets for corporate keynote speeches! Yet, outside of the usual tech blogs and a few newspaper columns, the future of Apple’s AR/VR device went largely unnoticed.
Apple isn’t the only company to have disappointed in the virtual world. Facebook’s stock price has fallen since the company announced it was changing its name to Meta in October of 2021 and committed to the metaverse. Sony announced today that its PlayStation VR2 headset launch is expected to be 50% lower than originally anticipated.
The European Union spent more than $400 000 to host a metaverse event that attracted only a small number of disappointed attendees.
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The virtual bubble has burst, but what about the real one?
Nonsense. Not only is virtual here to stay, it’s our future. Here are four of the biggest reasons that, whether we like it or dislike it, one day humans will live in a world dominated by virtual technology.
The most common complaint about virtual reality is that it’s not the same as real life, which is true. How long will it take before virtual reality feels like real life?
Many people forget that the original cell phones were 5 pounds in weight, had a signal loss every few blocks, and were so large they had to be carried around in briefcases. We all have phones that only weigh a few grams in our pockets. They can also connect with anyone via video and boast a processing capacity 100,000 times that of the 1969 computer which landed two astronauts on the moon.
Even with all the incredible achievements in AR/VR, we are still in the “cell phone in a briefcase” phase. The uncanny Valley. But technology will be there sooner than you think.
How do I find out? Businesses that are successful in embracing virtual reality will be rewarded handsomely.
Consider the success of 19 crimes wine. The company transformed the paper label into an experience that is unique. AR can help. When consumers see the 19 Crimes bottle, they immediately grab their phones to use the app and bring the figure from the bottle to live.
There are wine brands which receive more awards or higher rankings than 19 crimes. Certainly. But that’s not the point. Virtual allowed the brand, which was previously known for its paper wine labels, to transform them into an experience. In just 18 months, they went from selling 4 million bottles to 18 millions.
It’s the same principle used by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. The once “discount cousin” to Disney World, Universal Studios took everyday items such as cream soda and pieces of molded plastic and turned them into experiences. Now, that cream soda sells as a “Butterbeer” for $7.99, and that piece of plastic is a $55 wizard wand.
They started selling because You can also learn more about the experience of others by clicking here.Not just a ticket to ride some rides. Attendance at Universal Studios increased by 20%, and revenues grew by more than 40%.
Younger generations are driving a consumer culture that’s much more focused on experiences than things, and they’re willing to pay a premium for them. These experiences will improve as AR/VR technology advances. Brands are no longer limited by the limitations of time, money or the natural world.
They’ll only be limited by their imagination.
Did you realize that 65% American adults enjoy playing video games. The video game industry is 5 times bigger than the film industry. How about the fact that nearly seven years after first going viral, the AR sensation “Pokémon Go” reported more than $1 billion in annual revenue in both 2020 and 2021, a 45% increase over what the game earned the year it made headlines across the globe?
Video games are the clearest application of AR/VR. But in the future, these games won’t just be embraced at home. Virtual gaming will be a part of the workplace once businesses discover how much creativity and innovation they can unleash by immersing their employees in virtual worlds.
While C-suite executives might look down their noses at gamers, they’d be shortsighted to do so. Video games can encourage a lot of behaviors that employers want their employees to exhibit. These include teamwork, communication skills, problem solving, resilience to failures, innovation and creativity. The skills that gamers are required to practice regularly in their virtual worlds include teamwork, communication, problem-solving and resilience to failure.
As soon as businesses see this, they’ll be quick to embrace virtual as the future of work.
3. Global warming
Between 2003 and 2019, the number of passengers on planes, and thus, the volume, has doubled. Our impact on our planet has increased with this increase. Scientists have estimated that a single passenger’s share of emissions on a flight from New York to Los Angeles is enough to melt 32 square feet of arctic summer ice, according to The New York Times.
Travel habits have a serious impact on our planet. Virtual worlds are also a big part of this solution.
My sister attended ABBA Voyage in London recently, where virtual avatars performed a 90-minute show, singing, dance and traversing the stage with a manner that was breathtaking. Incredible real. My sister even admitted to me that there was a long period of the show where she didn’t even realize it wasn’t The real ABBA. Virtual experience was excellent.
It’s easy to forget, with mega-reunion concerts being so popular, that touring arena shows require dozens and dozens of flights internationally, resulting in a carbon dioxide nightmare. Imagine a world where fans can enjoy an incredible show right in their home (or on the couch!) and the bands didn’t need to travel at all?
It may seem absurd, but the ABBA Voyage Virtual Concert has sold over one billion tickets since its opening in May 2022. Virtual concerts and events have a bright future, especially when you consider how quickly technology has advanced.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a great example of the future of virtual. Everything became virtual as the world braced against the virus. Peloton classes replaced gyms. Zoom now has conference rooms. Instacart’s grocery stores.
And these changes weren’t just short-lived. Recent reports have shown that remote work has cost major cities, like New York, more than 12 billion dollars in revenue each year. Spending on retail, restaurants, bars, salons, gyms, and retail stores is down. Instead, people are spending more on services and goods that fit remote work lifestyles.
In my own business, I have seen this change first-hand. Prior to the pandemic 85% my speaking engagements took place at live, face-to-face events. In 2021 I conducted 100% virtual events. In 2022, the split was back to 30% virtual and 70% live. In 2023, I’m predicting a 50/50 split.
I don’t believe I’ll ever go back to 100% in-person events. Event organizers have realized that virtual events offer a great deal of convenience and cost savings. A steady mix of virtual and live events will also help protect the industry against future pandemics.
Don’t think we’ll see another pandemic like COVID-19? You might want to think again. In the past 40 years alone, we’ve had outbreaks of SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola and, of course, coronavirus, all just a few years apart. These outbreaks may have been regional, but the human race has fought against widespread disease from the beginning. And this battle won’t be going away anytime soon. Virtual events and gatherings will continue to be needed.
We’re all going virtual
In spite of the poor press and stock prices, why would a company with a track record as strong as Facebook choose to change its name from Facebook to Meta? And then make a public, risky commitment to the Metaverse? Apple has invested countless dollars and years into developing an AR/VR product for a category that does not have a demonstrated use case. Disney is filing patents related to metaverse and has hired a large number of employees in support of its metaverse strategy.
It’s because they believe. If some of the most innovative and successful businesses on Earth think the metaverse is the way forward, then we should too.
It may take a few more generations for humans to live in a world dominated by virtual reality. It is inevitable. It is coming, and we need to prepare ourselves (and businesses) now.
Duncan Wardle, former VP at The Walt Disney Company, runs iD8 & innov8.
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