September 25, 2017

Virtual Reality for Business E-commerce

Virtual Reality for business ecommerce- Game Studies Professor Derric Clark

When you think of VR what comes to mind? Video games, most likely. Did you know that Virtual Reality studies can open up new careers that students may have never known existed?

Businesses can use virtual reality technology to engage customers in areas like shopping for a dream home, deciding on a vacation experience or a tour of a new restaurant pre-construction.

UAT Game Studios Program Champion Derric Clark has seen the development of VR unfold since the early 90s in his time at UAT. Below Professor Clark shares his thoughts on VR’s place in business e-commerce.

The core to the Virtual Reality experience is interactive engagement in the subject matter. The first thing to consider is how well does the content lend itself to interactivity. A mistake that can be made is trying to use VR because it’s cool and new even when it does not enhance or complement the content being presented. If the content would benefit from this higher engagement and interactivity, then there can be a good fit.

The first phase or level of a VR experience is the novelty of the experience. The Head Mounted Display (HMD,) controllers, and tech will give an application a cool, novel vibe that can be enticing to users. This will wear off but for unique experience without a lot of replay-ability, this can be a good boost to the content. You have to balance the users uncomfortableness with the new platform against the thrill of the experience. Especially for first time users. A good example would be showing off the blueprints for a new football stadium to potential investors. Having seen the end result in a cool VR format, it gives the venture capitalist a better visual of what to expect and a if their investment will be worth the payoff.

VR in Architecture

Virtual Reality tour

The next phase is getting past the novelty of the experience and engaging VR as a platform. Using the tracking, the motion, the interactivity of using your hands in 3D space, these elements lend themselves to a deeper experience than what can be had with a controller, monitor, keyboard or mouse. Linking the platform and content together to give the user a quality, satisfying experience is better than the cool novelty of the first level. A good example may be a car dealership having a VR game of their fast new sports car that they want people to virtually test drive and want to know more in person. The game could track customers high scores and ask for an email or phone number to enter you to win the car.

Finally, there is the embracing the strengths of the platform phase. You saw this with console games, mobile phones, etc. When technology changes the new platform has to find a way to showcase it’s strengths. For instance, early mobile phone apps were very much standard software ported to a smaller device. It was when developers embraced the platform, the tilt controls, the cameras, the touch screen, swiping, tilting, incorporating Augmented Reality, and more that the platform really took off. We could now do things we couldn’t do on a PC or other platform, we redefined what using software was, how it fit into our lives, and what the expectations were from an app on a phone. This is where VR is now, we are discovering what it can do and rewriting the rules of interaction and development, embracing what it is good at that can not be done on other platforms. This is when VR becomes indispensable and not novel.

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