Don't Look Down

Thoughts On Tech

5 minute VR summary from Conran Design

Virtual Reality in the brand world

Author: Adam Downes, Digital

I recently attended the VR Creative Summit 2016 and was inspired to share how creative agencies and content producers are raising the bar in this sector.

Virtual reality (VR) is something that probably means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, yet it has been around in one form or another for the last 40 years.

Comfortable in the homes of gamers, yet generally still an alien medium to the masses, I was keen to dip my toe in this world and explore what the technology can facilitate, how it could benefit brands and businesses and whether it really adds value to their customer experience and as such should it be something we all begin to invest time in?

VR is our modern day teleportation device, allowing you to swim with sharks, visit the wonders of the world, experience a tightrope between two towers or experience what it is like to be Damon Hill driving an F1 racing car.

What about the headsets?

People still generally feel quite scared by the technology needed to experience VR. The tide is turning however with technology giants such as Google, Microsoft and Samsung investing heavily to make it more accessible and with products like Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear and Google Daydream more of us are now more likely to have a VR experience in the next year than not.

Without going into masses of details headsets basically come in 3 brackets:

Entry level: Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Matel Viewmaster, Google Daydream, approx £100, and requires you use your own mobile device to experience the content.

Mid level: Sony PSVR and Occulus Rift, approx £500, Wireless headsets used with controllers to navigate content displayed on their own platforms. It has the capacity to be preloaded with content or connect with other screens to share the users experience with others. 
- Bought by Facebook for US$ 2 Billion, its development had skyrocketed, and Facebook even sees the Oculus Rift as the window for the future of social media.

High level: HTC Vive and StarVR and Microsoft Hololense. The Vive is approx £800 but has yet to release a wireless headset. The StarVR is not on sale to the public but has partnered with Imax to sell experiences for $10 a go. The Hololense is approx £2,000 however it is really still in its beta phase. Microsoft have some great use cases (Nasa/Warcraft/Hospitals) but currently they are specifically targeting key sectors and businesses they are hoping to learn from through real world experimentation before creating a more commercially viable product.

Virtual reality technology being the tool to transform the way people interact with the world soon becoming a mainstream consumer technology that will open up limitless possibilities like attending concerts, watching movies, or even shopping — all within virtual reality.” HTC’s chairman Peter Chou.

The creative opportunities with this technology to drive memorable experiences are endless and great ideas and content are key now for our industry to make an impression on brands’ customers.

Companies like The BBC, The Financial Times, Sky and the National Theatre are already embracing this medium to produce unique content that is entertaining, educational, shareable and inspiring. Sky is working tirelessly across all its genres to bring its content to life, be it sport, the arts, drama, entertainment or movies.

Adam&Eve and MPC Creative created an immersive VR experience for John Lewis in their Flagship store that replicated Buster the dog’s Christmas garden and placed the user in the centre of the trampoline where they could meet and interact with all the animals. They used VR and magic leap technology and customers hands (with wooly mitts on) controlled the interactions. Their virtual experience was shown on the screens around them and when they had finished they received a link of their experience to share on social media

Thomas Cook has been trialling VR experiences having captured a series of 360 degree videos over 12 locations. It is now able to take its customers on helicopter rides over New York and then book them on the real experience as part of their package.

Following the success of Google’s Beyond the Map experience looking at the Favelas of Rio. The Financial Times commissioned a story to be told in partnership with Google about Dublin in the Dark: The Story of Emerald Noir. Filmed in 360° with cutting-edge 3D cameras and with specially commissioned music by Enda Bates, this is a fantastic way to explore the city through new technology. It was so popular in fact that the Facebook post alone of the 360° video received over 3million hits.

Jaguar and Rewind connected over 60 car journalists from around the globe in one VR experience where their audience were placed into a virtual showroom with a personalised tour from the lead designer. They were able to walk around the car, sit inside it, peel back the layers and look not only at the engine but inside it.

The possibilities to create unique experiences for brands are growing, the technology is making this an evermore common channel to consider and in fact once people start experiencing this everything else is going to feel a lot less fulfilling.

In my time at Conran Design Group we too have begun to partner with VR companies as we further integrate our digital expertise into some of our other services like packaging and 3D environment design, and now offer some of our key clients the ability to walk around and interact with their environments, shop the scheme and even design it on the fly with one of our environment designers. For us, this is just the start and as we become more practised, our clients become more informed and our customers more demanding of memorable experiences that can be ‘socialised’ and shared we are excited to think about what our new reality might look like.


I just want to share a few commandments when considering a VR experience:

10 Commandments of great VR:

  1. Thou shall create presence
  2. Thou shall know there are many flavours of VR
  3. Thou shall know your VR headsets
  4. Thou shall not make people throw up
  5. Thou shall focus on immersion
  6. Thou shall keep it simple
  7. Thou shall plan, plan and plan again
  8. Thou shall budget properly for post or live, or regret it
  9. Thou shall understand the advantages of CGI over film
  10. Thou shall understand the user is the director