What’s the buzz? Virtual Reality Trends & What Associations Can Learn

Virtual reality (VR) is essentially what it sounds like—”near-reality,” or in this case, a specific type of reality emulation.

VR refers to any technology that completely replaces what your eyes see. This is typically achieved by wearing a headset or lens that creates heightened storytelling and an enhanced imaginary reality for learning or entertainment. VR technology essentially simulates real-life environments for a wide variety of applications.

The viewer becomes a part of this virtual world, immersed in a 3D environment. In this virtual world, they can manipulate objects or perform a series of actions. Because of the immersive experience of this technology, we're seeing new virtual reality trends spreading like wildfire.

What are the latest virtual reality trends and what do they mean for your association?

The Rise of Virtual Reality

VR is trending hard. According to Zion Market Research, the global VR market is set for rapid growth. The market was valued at about 2.02 billion USD in 2016 and is expected to reach around 26.89 billion USD by 2022.

It's one of the most powerful and important inventions in the tech community and is set to experience wide-scale adoption by many big tech leaders in the years to come.

Giants like Google, HTC, and Samsung have released a number of headsets and VR gear. And Facebook’s Oculus Rift is swiftly modernizing the gaming industry by showing virtual landscapes and gaming scenarios in "real-time."

However, there’s more to VR than just fun and games. Let's take a look at the top three virtual reality trends that your association can learn from.

Top Virtual Reality Trends for Associations

Trend #1: Virtual Learning

Schools, nonprofits, and companies have started adopting virtual reality in their classrooms, learning modules, and onboarding programs. Many of those that have used VR tech report immediate increased engagement and interest amongst students and employees.

VR can help students better understand complex subjects, theories, and concepts because it creates an active rather than passive experience. The exploration and hands-on approach also increase information retention.

Trend #2: Virtual Events and Vendor/Booth Showcasing

A VR interface is an escape that can help companies stand out from their competitors at large events and trade shows.

Big brands like the N.B.A and Oculus, United Airlines, ProBrew, and I.B.M have used virtual reality to:

  • Generate buzz around new product launches.
  • Help consumers view intricate pieces of equipment.
  • Virtually transport consumers to new places.

Event planners, associations, and brands alike have also used VR at events to create multi-sensory activations and deeply engaging experiences for their target audiences.

Trend #3: Advertising

Yes, it used to be the stuff of science fiction, but now it’s no surprise that virtual reality trends and applications are rapidly advancing in the advertising industry.

Particularly for Google, who created an animated VR short video eloquently named, Pearl. It’s about a father/daughter road trip that features the two driving along in a car, playing music, and traveling from city to city. Viewers can watch the six-minute movie with a VR headset which lets them feel as if they’re inside of the car with Pearl and her dad.

Volvo also jumped at the opportunity to use Google Cardboard, and put its users in the driver’s seat of their new XC90 SUV for a pleasant, virtual, test-drive.

Where We Go From Here

Virtual reality helps brands connect with their consumers, and allows them to showcase their product in new and interactive ways.

Many industries (think medicine, sports, architecture, entertainment, the arts, etc.) have already adopted a wide variety of virtual reality applications. But the opportunities for VR in the digital age are truly endless.

As it becomes more affordable and widespread, we can expect to see many more innovative uses for this technology moving forward.

How do you as an association leader plan to use virtual reality in the future?

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