The North Face Takes Virtual Reality To SXSW And Stores

The North Face will take consumers through an immersive experience using virtual reality moviemaking techniques at its Chicago, New York and Los Angeles stores, after debuting it at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin this week.

SXSW Interactive 2015 visitors will get a sneak peek of the 3-minute content on Google Cardboard by visiting the Google Fiber Space at SXSW. Launched last year, Google Cardboard brings immersive VR content to people from their mobile device running Android. The movie was created with assistance from Jaunt, the technology company that builds the hardware and the software creating the cinematic VR experience.

The North Face will measure success by the number of people providing positive feedback to store associates. "We don't have concrete commercial metrics, but when people pilot it and say 'wow, that's amazing,' or need to sit down, that's the reaction we're looking for," said Eric Oliver, director of digital marketing for The North Face. "When they talk about the brand, we want them to augment the story about the headset with other positive stuff about the brand."



Oliver said it's about getting people outdoors and helping them live a life of exploration. It's about trying to improve the in-store experience to give consumers a glimpse of rock climbing in Yosemite or Moab.

"We don't want to replace the actual experience, but give consumers a taste of them in an immersive way," he said.

The North Face used Facebook Oculus to build a prototype of a cinematic VR movie meant to transport viewers to Yosemite National Park, Calif., and Moab, Utah, alongside The North Face Athletes Cedar Wright and Sam Elias. The experience in the flagship stores will rely on hardware from Samsung Gear VR in the stores.

The consumer puts on the glasses to view the image, transporting them into a virtual reality, as opposed to augmented reality where the viewer sees an overlay of information on top of the real physical world. The technology in the headset uses sensors to detect head movement, re-rendering the image on the screen to mimic what's seen in the real world.

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