Heard a really sweet story today by Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. at AWE (Augmented World Expo): she told the audience about an elderly woman with Parkinson’s, who regularly “meets” her tuxedo clad physically distant son (avatar) in VR to go dancing with him. *That’s* the power of VR for me. Not the whiz bang isn’t it cool game stuff, it’s the human element – and how much better it can make people’s lives. On the We Get Real AF Podcast (airing in June) I was asked what I thought the ultimate benefit of VR would be: my answer, without missing a beat, was “The end of loneliness.” And I really believe that.
It stuck a very personal chord. Doing my MBA at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, I was one of a small handful of women in a class of about 100 people. The professors’ speech defaulted to “he” and “him” for everything – I started raising my hand at every opportunity to point out the inherent “otherness” this created, for the female students; and also how is feeds the unspoken attitude that the default is male, and women are just add-ons and afterthoughts.
My suggestion to have one day – just one – where the language defaulted to “she” and “her” (but we mean you too, men!) was met with truthfully, eye rolling and some mockery.
That was 30 years ago, and the memory of it still stings.
I wish VR had been around then, to expose the men to what women so often go through. That is the power of virtual reality: for the first time in history, you can ACTUALLY walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. A powerful training experience not just for sexism, but racism, homophobia, all of it.
VR is such a powerful tool for education, and training: I hope to see many more companies create content and experiences, and companies adopt it as a tool to help employees learn in an experiential way that really can’t be replicated, building empathy and understanding in a truly unique manner.
My chapter explores the impact immersive technologies—augmented reality and virtual reality—will have on consumer branding and business in the near and longer term future. Weaving multiple use cases and examples throughout, I discuss the next phase of experiential marketing: how immersive branding will develop as spatial computing becomes more mainstream, and how brands can start thinking about how they can leverage the technology.
I also examine the rise of virtual influencers, how they will affect social media marketing—and how artificial intelligence will ultimately enable true one-to-one interaction with customers through virtual avatars. Finally, I outline and discuss the risks, rules and recommendations for how to successfully proceed as a brand curious about how to best harness the technologies.
This was a great experience, and I want to thank Jacquelyn (Jacki) Morie for the opportunity to be included, and for being an editor par excellence.