Commentary

Google Cardboard On The App Store -- Time To Get Virtual On Customer Experience

VR is being democratised, and brands will have to consider how either augmented or virtual reality will impact them. The technology to enjoy virtual reality has never been more affordable, and customers are going to expect it to be a part of the experience they get from brands.


Today's news that the Google Cardboard app is now available in the App Store isn't arresting in itself, but as a part of a trend of augmented and virtual reality, it's worth noting. What the trend means for brands will differ according to how they interact with customers now and how they see that developing. It could be a case of adding an extra element to their stills and videos -- even perhaps by having emblems dance around on their bottle of fizzy drink, or a band could performa a live song when you're in a record store staring at their album cover.

Martell has already launched a cognac label that takes owners on a "flight" from France to China, and one can imagine there will be other brands lining up to help their product stand out through a more immersive experience.

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Customer service offers a lot of potential here. It might be a store assistant online helping a shopper at home pick outfits out from latest ranges on the racks by "touching" them so they leap out and strut on a virtual cat walk or perhaps just a support guy showing someone at home how they change their email password without taking over their screen. Letting a remote customer enjoy a unique experience surely has to be a strategy that many brands are going to take.

There will always be headline uses of VR, such as the Galactica ride at Alton Towers, but for every day uses the impact may be a little public although still innovative for their brand. We are, of course, not at a stage where the every day customer knows what VR is but you can expect that to change as gamers get used to a new experience of playing Fifa et al. and the technology begins to go mainstream, that will change.

A sign that this is already happening is Google Cardboard being available for less than ten pounds, and the app to drive it now being offered at the app stores for both Android and, archrival, Apple. There is serious momentum behind the movement, and it's likely that customers will start to expect a more immersive experience from parts of a brand over the next year or so.

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