Virtual reality is coming and transforming the way we see and learn about things. Now, you can walk through a faraway city or see a hotel room in faraway say Sydney. Without being there. All this can be done at the comfort of your home. Using your smartphone. While photos are a reflection of reality locked in space and time, virtual reality adds space and time to that locked reality. Amazing. Highly likely that a wedding, event or travel photographer’s clients soon want a virtual reality rendition of a job commissioned. Just imagine the value this adds to “simple” photography and video. Not to mention how the advertisement industry is frolicking.
Virtual reality is said to transform travel, event and hospitality industries in a big way. What started as nascent technology is poised to become a tool for promotions and advertising. For consumers, it’s a new way to plan, schedule and experience. Imagine walking through a hotel room before you book, or exploring a location’s sights and sounds as you narrow down a shortlist of vacation destinations, all from inside your home and using your phone.
Even if you have no time or plans to physically go anywhere, virtual reality (VR) is a fantastic new video-based medium for armchair wanderlust. It takes the Google Street View approach of dragging your mouse around 360° photos, and transforming it into an immersive experience where you’re transported into those environments. Or how about joining a Swiss fighter jet patrol?
You can travel to places you may never be able to go (or want to), such as destinations that are off-limits to tourists or just plain dangerous. And when you add narration from a tour guide to those videos, the experience becomes that much greater. Or VR can capture a life-like replay of a wedding, of any event. Imagine how a simple video pales in comparison.
The VR technology isn’t far-off. As Digital Trends reports, there are several virtual travel apps already available, and companies like Qantas, British Airways and Marriott have already started experimenting with it as a marketing tool. On the consumption end, YouTube and Facebook are just a handful of the major sites supporting 360° content.
And yes, you can experience virtual reality in a simple, fun and affordable way. While the technology is still nascent and video resolution quality isn’t quite there yet, it’s a safe to expect rapid development. Says Digital Trends:
As we recently experienced with Marriott’s VRoom Service, using a Samsung Gear VR headset, the audio-visual “sensory experience” did make us feel as if we’re there (pardon the cliché). Expect to see more content uploaded in the near future — a mix of professional, high quality videos to those shot by consumers on their phones or cameras.
Without us realizing, Street View in Google Maps has been preparing us for virtual travel for years. The ability to zoom into many parts of the world (as well as inside buildings) at street level, is one its coolest features. Now, with the Google Street View app for iOS and Android and a compatible viewer (Google Cardboard, Mattel View-Master, Zeiss VR One GX), virtual travelers can finally put themselves inside those locations.
What this means for photogs? Check out the personal New York City tour with photographer and Instagrammer, Neil Britto, utilizing GoPro’s Odyssey — a 16-camera spherical array. The Odyssey basically is a clumsy version of what Nokia’s $60k OZO virtual reality camera does for professional cinematographers. And they’re not the only big companies getting into VR: Samsung, Nikon and Ricoh recently announced their 360 cameras, so we can expect to see content from them and more to follow.
A major drawback certainly remains the distortion when viewed on a plane screen. This is not how we see the world, due to the compressed perspective by squeezing 360° into, say, 60°. Well that’s what those VR viewers are for. My son got one, am using his, great stuff, so real! Highly recommended to get that Google Cardboard for a starter, and off you are into VR…
For more, visit Digital Trends.