The future of the industry became real at the August AM AdBuzz event. An audience of ad professionals gathered at the Newseum to gain knowledge about virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR, the least-known of the three) by listening, watching and diving into new experiences.
The panelists were Mosaic Learning’s President and Partner Mike Desimon and Multimedia and Virtual Reality Developer Sean Mauney and Viva Creative’s President of Content and Creative Joe Talbott and Director of Technology Innovation Ray McCarthy Bergeron. The moderator was Centro’s Regional Sales Manager Brian Wohlert, who’s co-chair of the AAF DC program committee.
The main takeaway: These media are relatable and accessible and can be ideal for down-to-earth, practical reasons rather than glitzy ones. For example, a client can start small with something that uses Google cardboard, test it smartly and see if it can tell a story better or engage the audience in a new way to meet the needed KPIs. Demonstrations are the key to helping a client see the potential of the media.
Viva’s team laid out the differences between the three types:
- Virtual reality is an immersive experience where you go into a completely different world.
- Augmented reality overlays virtual items onto the real world. Pokemon Go is the best-known example.
- Mixed reality integrates the above elements so that you can engage with digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you. It involves physical movements such as pinching a virtual item (as you see in the photos).
VIVA Creative has eagerly explored new realities because it’s an experiential marketing agency that designs and produces state-of-the-art events.
One project that gained a lot of client response was VIVA’s Snow Globe Holiday Card. This AR project asked the viewer to scan a page and suddenly a snow globe with Viva staffers inside it would “virtually” appear on top of the page.
Ray told us that the flexibility of these realities allows for a “string of pearls story structure” where you can choose hit the milestones of a tale exactly the way they’re laid out (in a linear path) or take a circuitous route and still hit certain milestones. This way, while my buddy and I may have different experiences, the desired story or messaging can be the same.
A New Paradigm for Learning
The way people learn can fundamentally transform an organization, so Mosaic Learning develops smarter learning and training through immersion, not memorization. VR and AR fit perfectly into this approach, turning exams into games that boost long-term retention while inviting imagination.
Mike showed how Mosaic created a virtual job site so that a client’s students could find safety hazards and fix them. These game situations are ideal training: The student doing the test loves it and his classmates get a kick out of sharing his point of view. When he makes a mistake, the other students see it right away and let him know! The training reinforces each point in the curriculum. The result: More students are passing the formal certification exams and can get onto a real job site faster.
Aspiring pipefitters are a good example: They read about how pipes get shorter when you bend them, but only when they try it in VR do they see and understand the concept. This “aha moment” is sticky because the students are physically doing the tasks with their virtual hands.
Of course, this is only one path to success. The game’s analytic engine is powerful enough to quiz the students, gauge that they’re not understanding certain ideas and make intelligent digital decisions (“adaptive learning”) to try different approaches that might be more effective. As it turned out, many apprentices (ages 18-25) and journeymen (ages 50 and up) found VR to be very useful. For more details, download Mosaic’s white paper on Learning Through Experience: Your Guide to Doubt-Based Learning™ Principles.
Mosaic took a different slant to make a print curriculum come alive. Since it’s hard for students to grasp how isometric drawings translate into actual plans in the field, they can scan a drawing and a 3D version of it will open in an app. This interaction bridges the gap in their understanding.
It turns out that this value argument applies beyond the classroom. A tool company wanted to to ensure that customers in Home Depot and Lowes understood how to use its products, so the firm asked Mosaic to develop VR that was shown on in-store screens.
During the Q&A, Sean pointed to the need for clients to see the value of the experience. For example, one client, after doing a 2D 360-degree video, asked for other pieces that were much more interactive. They were eager to pivot to a 3D game that’s more customizable and engaging.
After the Q&A, the audience went upstairs for the demos of VR (using the HTC VIVE head-mounted display to show Mosaic’s virtual job site) and MR (using the Microsoft HoloLens to show Viva’s trip across Israel).
The questions spilled over from the theater. A lively discussion emerged from a question posed to Ray by Eugene Fertelmeyster, Director of Strategic Partnerships at BTC Revolutions: What if people come to rely on VR instead of having actual experiences? For instance, a child can learn that touching a flame is bad via VR, but that doesn’t compare to the lesson other children learn by actually touching a flame and feeling the consequences. They talked about how VR/AR/MR have many uses but certain ones would be counterproductive or harmful to society.
Zohar Rom is a writer and project manager at Garfinkel + Associates and co-edits this blog. He drives brand success for clients and adores new challenges. Zohar is also a filmmaker; he earned the Cable Advertising Bureau’s first-ever Best In Show.