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Beyond games and roller coasters: Next steps for virtual reality

Keith Shaw | July 12, 2016
While VR has hit the mainstream in terms of consumers trying out the technology, can businesses jump on the VR train to better interact with customers?

YouVisit Trafalgar Square virtual reality

In our recent beginner's guide to virtual reality, we showcased various Google Cardboard VR headsets and apps to try out on a limited budget. A lot of those apps were either gaming-based apps or ones that gave you an experience, like a virtual roller coaster ride or a view of 360-degree photos of a particular location (like New York City).

If you're not interested in those types of experiences, you might say, "Is that it?" and miss out on the next steps with VR, which could expand the use of the technology in your own life or as part of your business.

In looking at ways that VR can be used in business cases, I came across the folks atYouVisit, which helps businesses create VR experiences to connect better with customers. The team offers two opportunities for businesses - a VR software platform that adds interactivity to VR experiences, and a Studios division that can help businesses create VR photos, videos and experiences. 

"VR offers [companies] the ability to let [customers] go behind the scenes like no other way," said Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of YouVisit. He says the company wants to offer experiences that go beyond the 360-degree photo or 360-degree video that many companies are now experimenting with, by offering an additional feature - interactivity.

"VR gives you a sense of what it's truly like," Mandelbaum said. For example, when you go and view a 360-degree photo of a hotel room, you often wonder, "Is that what it's really like?", he added. With VR, there's a depth of experience not seen in the other formats. Interactivity also lets the customer choose where they want to go, what "hot spots" to select (in a tour of Hollywood, for example, is the user choosing 'restaurants/night life' or 'shopping'?). These analytics are valuable to the business, giving them a sense of how to better engage with the VR user, Mandelbaum said.

Mandelbaum warned, however, that this wasn't just about VR. He said that the entire experience is also made available for visitors who are accessing the material via a mobile device or their desktop computer. It's a way to help expand the potential audience for a business that might be wary about spending money on a VR project for a potentially limited audience.
The list of projects that YouVisit has already filmed is extremely impressive:

Harvard Square YouVisit virtual reality

EDUCATION: One of the biggest use cases is for colleges to provide virtual campus tours to prospective students who might not get a chance to physically visit. The YouVisit page of colleges is quite impressive, and several of the experiences let visitors apply or make contacts with the college/university directly. Chances are you'll find your school/college in this section of the YouVisit site.


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