With yesterday’s launch of the Oculus Rift, we’ve officially stepped into the virtual reality era, which is an industry that has already gained over $1 billion in investment this year. But while high-end headsets offer incredibly realistic experiences, it would be a mistake to overlook the tremendous impact of mobile VR viewers like the Samsung Gear VR (developed in partnership with Oculus VR), which sells for a much lower price of $99 and operates using smartphones. Although accessibility remains a tremendous draw for viewers like the Gear VR or Google Cardboard, the experiences are often said to be of a lower quality than ones on premium headsets.
That perception could change with the help of companies like SilVR Thread, which uses proprietary technology to create stunningly realistic experiences on mobile VR. Its first experience, Adrenaline Rush: Learn to Freestyle, lets users take to the slopes from the view of a professional skier, and was included with the launch of the Hulu virtual reality app (Hulu VR) for Gear VR last week. The app lets viewers experience VR videos in addition to Hulu’s regular streaming shows and movies, which are shown a giant virtual movie screen. What makes SilVR’s content stand out is the incredible sense of realism and physical presence its technology creates because it replicates human vision. Although this technology makes for fantastic entertainment, it also has tremendous potential as a VR marketing tool.
Tai Crosby, founder and CEO of SilVR Thread, talked to [a]listdaily about virtual reality, how it could be used for marketing and experiencing what it’s like to ski like a pro.
How does SilVR Thread’s content stand out from other VR experiences and 360-degree videos that are available?
We’re pioneering physical presence in live action VR, meaning actually seeing, hearing, and feeling through the perspective of another. We are different than any other VR in the market. You not only see 360 around the landscape but you’re in the action, because with our technology, the user can look down and see what ‘feels’ like their own body. It’s a game changer to know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.
So, imagine being in the body of a pro athlete or climbing Machu Picchu step-by-step. How do we do it? With SilVR Thread cameras and software, the live action that’s filmed is turned into an incredible and transformative 3D VR experience, with full situational awareness and positional sound. It’s literally as real as being there.
Can you describe one of SilVR Thread’s experiences?
The content just released on Hulu’s new VR platform is a thrilling and intense skiing experience that was live shot from the perspective of a professional skier. It’s in full stereoscopic 3D VR with spatialized positional sound for true physical immersion and absolutely unlike anything else in VR. We always tell people “prepare yourself your mind will believe that you are flying down the mountain.” As they go over a jump in the terrain park, it’s fun to see them actually jump.
Adrenaline Rush: Learn to Freestyle is available for the Gear VR. Can we expect SilVR Thread content to come to other platforms?
Absolutely. We’re working with a number of partners in marketing from sports to film to tourism. We are also working on exciting learning and training applications. All of whom are bringing or really wanting to bring content to all headsets and mobile VR platforms.
How can marketers best put SilVR Thread content to use?
It’s well known that experiencing something first hand is far more effective than just seeing, hearing or reading it. For companies with products or services, VR is a huge ‘wow’ factor for reaching consumers. Because SilVR Thread technology extends VR further with physical presence and positional audio, marketers can literally put the product or service into the consumers’ hands resulting in greater branding opportunities. The experience is so much more connected, it triggers really great emotional and physical reactions with viewers leaving them talking about the experience for days.
Here’s are a few marketing examples only achievable with SilVR Thread’s unique technology.:
- Imagine checking out the latest Nike basketball shoes while shooting hoops right next to Lebron James, or even more specifically as Lebron James.
- Or being the first fan to tour the new Disneyland Star Wars park ahead of its opening next year, experiencing the new rides, shows, and attractions as a Jedi.
- Or with the simplest example of selling a bicycle, in the days of radio, you could describe the bike, or with a TV you can watch someone ride the bike, or with 360 video you can watch someone ride the bike in circles around you. With SilVR Thread, you actually experience riding the bike yourself–and your brain believes it’s real.
In what ways do you see VR technology continuing to grow in the coming years?
The world hasn’t experienced a visual communication medium leap forward like this since the original invention of film at the beginning of the last century. In fact, our company name pays homage to the silver threads woven into early, high quality cloth movie screens.
In our work in VR so far, we’ve discovered tremendous benefits and opportunities for us all to learn, communicate, and connect. Imagine the shared understanding it can foster, and the unparalleled learning opportunities. We’re excited to be an early pioneer.