Why we need immersive tech more than ever in a post-pandemic world
2020 was a game-changing year for the entire world. We humans are social beings by nature, so naturally, we all took being able to meet up with our friends, family and work colleagues for granted.
But then COVID-19 struck…
While the lockdowns and social distancing that followed suit were necessary to keeping people as safe as possible from the disease, it also brought about an epidemic of loneliness. In a climate where we couldn't go out to work or even meet up with anyone outside our homes physically, technology was the glue that kept us together. From business meetings on Zoom to birthday parties in Animal Crossing, we relied on our electronics to keep in touch as our everyday life was flipped on its head.
But even now, as things slowly start to go back to normal (or rather, we’re transitioning to a “new normal”), the past year has made something clearer than ever: we need to continue finding new ways to keep the world spinning that are safe, accessible and affordable.
Alternative Ways To Move
The tourist industry was among the most badly-hurt by the coronavirus. Travel restrictions and international outbreaks meant millions were forced to cancel their holidays, and hotels and tourist destinations struggled to keep afloat in their losses. In recent times, people have turned to the power of VR to satisfy their quench for globetrotting without leaving the house.
The National Geographic Explore VR app offers adventurers a whole package of exciting expeditions, so you can traverse around Machu Picchu temples, kayak through the Antarctic, and climb El Capitan, all from the comfort of your sofa! And if your trip was postponed for work, then you have even more options, with multiple ways to connect locations, Portals or viewpoints together, and visit them, without a boarding pass. While most of us still long to do it all properly, virtual travel may become a resident of the post-pandemic world rather than just a visitor.
A lot of travellers and consumers want a seamless experience, to go from looking to booking with minimal clicks, instant gratification and saving as much time as possible.Ralph Hollister
Even when the lockdown lifts and we can all go abroad again, our headsets may still come in handy for booking plane tickets, viewing interactive hotel tours, and getting up close to wild animals (something you wouldn't be able to do safely otherwise!)
The pandemic has also squashed sports fans’ hopes of flying over to watch their favourite matches and tournaments. However, the show must go on. Most of those widely anticipated matches still happen, albeit behind closed arena doors. What makes the whole experience of watching a sports match in person is a strong sense of ‘togetherness’, not just out of loyalty for your favourite teams or players, but with fellow supporters. And the VR headset just can’t offer that. With a large-scale spatial reality portal, however, fans can still get together and cheer at their favourite sporting events with a 360-degree panoramic view, all while socially distanced.
Social distancing measures don’t just end at having to keep away from everyone else: they also entail other restrictions on what you can do in public places. Changing rooms are sealed off and free sample booths are packed away, so shoppers are left with no choice but to try out products after purchasing them. But to be fair, this has been the case with loads of products even before COVID crept in - you wouldn’t curl your eyelashes with a mascara you had just grabbed from a store shelf at the best of times!
Beauty brand L’Oreal is particularly passionate about this idea. Their tech division ModiFace is dedicated to developing AR mobile apps, where potential customers can see how different hair dyes and makeup products would look on them, just by using their camera. The apps also use artificial intelligence to ensure the resulting edited image faithfully represents how the actual product would look on the user.
Meetings and gatherings
If you’ve ever attended a concert, festival or convention, you’re familiar with the chaos that ensues: scrambling to meet up with friends or colleagues, trying to beat the crowds (and food lines), and madly searching for merch or booths. Chances are, you probably felt a little under the weather within the next few days with good old con crud (i.e. a cold or flu following a convention). Simply put, large events and airborne diseases don’t mix…and COVID has made us even more mindful of that.
Does this mean such massive meetups are a thing of the past, however? Not necessarily.
Mesmerise, a Manchester-based tech startup, has developed a revolutionising solution for keeping the conference alive in a safe and modern form. The Gatherings VR platform lets guests navigate booths and exhibitions within a virtual main hall, and stream live and on-demand speaker sessions with a front seat view. Because the only limits are software and technology, hosts can put on events that would not otherwise be feasible via physical means.
There is no better way to get together than by creating a common stage. Virtual media and social hubs are the new hotspots for entertainment, marketing, and tourism - they're only going to become more plentiful and wonderful in the coming years, and we're excited to see how they evolve in our constantly evolving society in the next few years