The advent of televisions in American homes changed the tides of a presidential election, and the proliferation of mobile devices and social media have radically shifted the media landscape to a bite-sized, 24/7 businesses. It all begs the question, is there a world where emerging technologies, such as virtual reality or augmented reality, could further transform the news to this extent? Certainly.
Emerging technologies are coming for the newsroom. As the public is exposed to increasing amounts of immersive and mixed reality experiences in all parts of their lives – gaming, retail, streaming and more – it will also find its path into the newsroom. It’s no longer a matter of when AR, VR, drones, or 360 video will be ready for the news, it’s now a race to see which newsrooms can create the most compelling user experiences and use these new technologies with the greatest impact.
AR, VR are the new mobile
Mobile adoption radically changed the way the public consumed news. Close to six in 10 adults gets their news on a mobile device, nearly triple the 21% of those who did so just a few years ago in 2013. Access to information is a click, tap or tweet away.
Long-form journalism is often eschewed in favor of short, easily consumable pieces and being late to the scoop has never been more detrimental. In some ways, the industry is still reeling from these changes to figure out what sticks in a mobile-first world.
Adding emerging technologies to the mix is the next step in moving the industry forward and in some way fulfill the promise of mobile.
Separate from media, the virtual reality market for retail and marketing is estimated to hit $1.8B in 2022, per Retail Dive. Even healthcare, an industry notoriously burdened by red tape and regulations impacting innovation, is looking toward augmented reality for everything from educational training, sales and patient education.
All these industries are a driving force in the worldwide augmented and virtual reality market expected to jump from $27B to $209B. In 2020, there will be an anticipated 1B people using these technologies. Journalism must embrace these new technologies.
The Newsroom Impact
As consumers become more sensitive to where they get their news and what constitutes "fake news" versus a trusted source, emerging technologies are a way to restore confidence — and further a publisher’s bottom line.
While not every story is a fit for AR or VR, it is a medium that requires consideration. (No one is firing off an AR experience the way they can fire off a tweet.) It emphasizes storytelling above everything else. But to hit that right combination of story, technology and timeliness, publishers are experimenting with which stories are best told through immersive formats and learning from each other.
Even nonprofits use it for news purposes. The International Committee of the Red Cross recently created an app, Enter the Room, that takes you through the effects of conflict and war utilizing emerging tech such as augmented reality, 3D audio, and more. It’s a powerful piece of AR storytelling that leaves an impression.
USA Today’s The Wall, took a similar approach using a combination of emerging technologies to shed light on a major political issue.
It’s time to stop thinking of AR, VR and similar emerging technology as nebulous concepts that might one day impact the world. Over the past few years, these technologies have matured incredibly and it’s now time for action.
As the groundwork continues to be subtly laid for their adoption, the news industry must responsibly incorporate the technology into the newsroom and continue its mission to provide critical information to the public.