10 Best Uses Of Virtual Reality In Marketing (Updated)

virtual reality marketing

As of April 2016, people that succeed with Virtual Reality (VR) Marketing do two things very well:

First, they identify VR Marketing narratives that get them results.

Second, they put 100% of their resources into creating the stories that resonate with their audience.

But you’re probably wondering:

“How do I find VR Marketing strategies that actually work?”

Well, today we’re going to make it easy for you.

All you need to do is carve out a few minutes of your day and look over the 10 Best Uses Of Virtual Reality In Marketing.

Here’s why VR Marketing campaigns are so successful:

VR solves a huge problems marketers have around engagement and awareness for the following reasons:

  • Immersive – users wearing a headset are completely immersed in the content meaning fewer distractions and more attention on the message.
  • Impactful – the intensity of a VR experience is greater than traditional media generating strong emotions in its users which are linked to real behaviour change.
  • Memorable – our brains are built to remember events linked to locations, this means that VR experiences have a longer trace in the audience’s memory.
  • Novel – with high media and public interest in VR early adopters can benefit from favourable media exposure.

You’ll learn today the how the best marketing campaigns use VR to create successful campaigns. Here’s our video that shows you exclusive footage from each campaign and it showcases what you can learn from each campaign. Keep scrolling to see our write up of each one.

The 10 Best Uses of Virtual Reality in Marketing Video:

Because we also have extensive write-ups below detailing why each campaign was a success. Be sure to bookmark this page and come back to it for your research.

10. Coca Cola’s Santa’s Virtual Reality Sleigh Ride

Last Christmas, Coca Cola created a virtual reality sleigh ride. Using Oculus Rift, thousand of people all over Poland were immersed in this virtual world and were Santa Claus for a day! It is like a roller coaster ride but you are Santa Claus flying over the country and into different villages.

Why we picked it:

Coca-Cola is a major brand and they’ve been experimenting with Virtual Reality for quite a while now. Coca-Cola is always striving to be new and fresh and this was a perfect opportunity for them. This sleigh ride was a great way to show their modern brand through the use of VR. It introduced people in Poland to virtual reality and help them better experience the joy of Christmas.

9. McDonald’s Happy Meal VR Headset and Ski App

Through their Happy Meal Box, McDonald has released their own Google Cardboard. They’re doing a trial run in Sweden where the happy meal toy is a McDonald’s Cardboard VR Headset. In this case, it’s helping people turn happy boxed into happy people. Slope Stars is the game that comes with the goggles. It’s tied to a Swedish recreational holiday that centres on skiing.

Why we picked it:

McDonald has an enormous reach all over the world. They are legends of marketing. This new promotional strategy helps utilise their happy meal box and repurpose it as a “Happy Goggle.” The reusability is very cool. And they’re providing extra entertainment with their app to their customers making this a great campaign.

8. Michelle Obama’s VR Video

The Whitehouse invited The Verge to do a video on Michelle Obama’s success with social media. She talks about her efforts to popularise healthy eating and exercise. The 10-minute video is a 360 video that has After Effects like animation on it to help illustrate Michelle’s point. The video is the best VR infographic explainer video I’ve ever seen. For marketers reading this right now, if you need to explain a company’s mission or a new service, you’ll definitely want to look into this video and use it as an example.

Why we picked it:

It solves the big problem marketers have with VR. Mainly, how to properly make use of the 360 space and it creates a narrative flow that anyone can follow along with. This is a huge a challenge because it is difficult to capture someone’s attention when they can look anywhere. The Verge creates these infographic pop-ups that guide your attention. And even when you’re not looking at the speaker, they’ll reproduce Michelle’s face on the other side so you can continue to follow the story while exploring the space. This video masterfully engages you on Michelle Obama’s social media story.

7. New York Times – Displaced

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.54.50

War has driven 30 million children from their homes. The New York Times detailed their tragic stories in an immersive documentary that was available to download for mobile app and Google Cardboard. This wasn’t a marketing campaign but the publicity of generated by distributing a million free Google Cardboards to their readers grabbed headlines. The VR studio vrse.works developed Displaced for the NYTVR app.

  • Distributed to over 1 million New York Time subscribers
  • The Highlight piece of New York Times VR app

Why we picked it

The film did an excellent job at showing the devastating effects of war and put you in the heart of the story. A worthy story and a great marketing move by the NY Times.

6. Boursin – Sensorium

Soft cheese supplier Boursin created a virtual reality experience that takes you on a journey through a fridge full of delightful treats. They hired the marketing agency BecauseXM and Hammerheadvr to deliver the project. Boursin exhibited this in various malls and events around the United Kingdom. Click here to Oculus link to try it for yourself.

  • 67,545 YouTube Views
  • Winner of Masters of Marketing Award 2015
  • 6 City Tour

Why we picked it

It’s quite extravagant for a cheese company and we like it because it sets the bar high. Their exhibit also includes wind jets so you can truly experience this adventure.

5. TopShop – Catwalk Experience

A bit older this one, but still worthy. TopShop offered members of the public a unique front-row view of their exclusive fashion runway show during London Fashion Week using a 360 panoramic video stream.  Lucky competition winners got to experience this in a special pop-up space in TopShop’s flagship London store, providing great visibility. As a bonus, the user could find additional behind the scene footage from within the experience. This experience was created by the London VR studio Inition.

Why we picked it

This is a great use of the technology, well executed and one of the very first of these types of experiences for the Oculus. Congrats to the guys at Inition.

4. Volvo – XC90 Test Drive

Test driving a car through virtual reality makes a lot of sense if you don’t have a car dealer close by. It is great to see Volvo make an app to support the launch of their XC90 SUV.  It puts you in the cockpit and takes you on an idyllic ride through the country. The vergewrote that though the experience was a little fuzzy and inaccurate they thought it was clever. This was also done by Framestore VR Studio and you can read their case study for more info here.

  • 175k views on YouTube
  • 155 Reviews on Google Play with an averaged of 3.6 stars

Why we picked it

We think this is a great move by Volvo – a company that has struggled perhaps to appear modern and relevant compared to their competitors. By adopting VR in this way they’ve made the public look at their brand in a new light. It also might become the standard by which future test driving apps are compared to giving Volvo a first mover advantage in the virtual reality industry.

3. Patron – The Art of Patron

A Tequila company might not be an obvious beneficiary of a VR marketing strategy, but Patron used the power of VR to tell a compelling story around the companies product. Using a mix of live action and computer graphics they created a 360 journey following the product lifecycle from agave field to being served at a glamorous party. The entire production took six months and was developed by creative agency Firstborn, post-production agency Legend and sound design agency Antfood. When Patron does events, they’ll bring a virtual reality set up to show audiences their process.

  • 20k Accumulated YouTube Views
  • Used Binaural (3D) Audio
  • Used a custom built Drone with a 7 GoPro

Why we picked it

This was good because it gives the user an inside look at the process of creating Patron’s Tequila. It’s both entertaining and educational.

2. Merrell – Trailscape

To support the launch of a new hiking boot, the Capra. Merrell created a VR experience called Trailscape that takes you on a dangerous mountain hike. Participants walk along a stage set that is mapped to the virtual experience to create a new level of immersion. The motion capture allowed adventurers to explore the mountainside, with tactile elements such as rope walkways and shaking wooden planks, making this one of the most immersive VR experience to date. Showcased at 2015 Sundance Film Festival, it was the brainchild of Merrell, agency Hill Holliday and Framestore VR Studio. You can read more here.

  • First commercial use of “walk around” virtual reality
  • 3,750 YouTube Views

Why we picked it

Trailscape does a good job of integrating the brand in a powerful user experience. We really like the fact you can walk around in this demo, which is relevant from the product and also is not something we see often in VR experiences currently. From the reaction of the users they had a memorable time too!

1. Marriott – The Teleporter

Imagine being able to transport yourself to a beach paradise whenever you wanted?

Framestore VR Studio and Relevant partnered with Marriott to create a unique teleportation experience for the public. Framestore VR Studio writes that it’s, “A Revolutionary 4D Tourism experience for Marriott Hotels, that teleports you first to a Marriott Hotel and then to the beach in Hawaii.” Inside a telephone booth-like structure, they used Oculus Rifts, heaters, and wind jets to take users on a trip to Hawaii and London. Whilst it’s not quite the same as actually being there, it might help you decide on your future trips. It also helped Marriott position themselves as a forward looking and relevant brand in the market. For more information, you can view the case study here.

  • Toured in 8 cities in the USA
  • 100-second sessions

Why we picked it

We liked this because it combines visuals with the other senses, going beyond what it possible by just showing a 360 video. Whilst, not a cheap campaign to produce it was successful enough for Marriott to commission a second experience. Showing VR is more than a one-off gimmick but something that can be core to a marketing strategy when used properly.


That’s our list! However, not every campaign made it and below we highlight other campaigns that you can learn from. 


Here comes the next new medium: virtual reality

On April 30, 1939, an RCA station began the first regular television programming, broadcasting President Franklin Roosevelt’s opening of the New York World’s Fair to 4,000 sets.

The New York Times was unimpressed with the new medium, opening in an editorial: “The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.”

Those words are worth keeping in mind as another new medium prepares to launch: virtual reality.

Critics insist there will never be a large audience willing to sit with their eyes encased in goggles, immersed in a world no one else can see. Supporters say, if you haven’t tried it, you don’t understand.

Many people did experience a precursor to virtual reality several years ago thanks to IPIX, a company founded in Oak Ridge in 1986. It became an early internet darling, creating still images that allowed house hunters to take virtual home tours. The company’s technology also could produce much more intense 360-degree video, and visitors to its offices could strap on headgear and go for a virtual wild ride that left Mr. Toad in the dust.

But IPIX was ahead of its time. The data required for immersive video overwhelmed any connection available a decade ago. The company survived the dot-com bust, but it later lost its contract with eBay and went bankrupt in 2006.

Now, though, the time is ripe for VR.

Virtual and “augmented” reality are poised to be “the next computing platform,” writes industry analyst Ben Schachter. “The first half of 2016 will see the most significant progress on VR/AR ever.”

In just 10 years, Goldman Sachs predicts, the market for VR hardware will be $110 billion, compared to just $99 billion for television. Oculus, the Facebook-owned producer of VR headsets, expects to capture a billion customers as its devices shrink to the size of sunglasses in a decade or so.

The potential for the news business is beyond imagination. Happily, the company that just bought the News Sentinel is pioneering those possibilities.

In 2014, Gannett and its Des Moines Register created “Harvest of Change,” an experimental project that let VR visitors learn about agriculture by wandering a farm landscape and accessing videos and other information.

Last month, the company announced that its USA TODAY NETWORK soon would launch the first regularly scheduled VR news show. “VRtually There” will explore a range of topics and be targeted to people using Google Cardboard, the low-cost devices that turn smartphones into VR goggles.

“VR provides a unique opportunity to tell the stories of news in new and different ways,” Niko Chauls, USA TODAY NETWORK’s director of applied technologies told The Wall Street Journal. “The technology provides for a level of immersion and experiential storytelling like nothing else.”

Imagine being able to peer into a headset and be transported to the floor of this summer’s Republican National Convention, to a refugee camp on a Greek island, or to the sidelines at Neyland Stadium.

I don’t know what role the News Sentinel will have producing VR content. But I can’t wait to find out.

Jack McElroy thumbnail

About Jack McElroy

Jack McElroy has been editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel since 2001.

How Virtual Reality Is Really Going To Change Our Lives

By now, you’ve probably heard of virtual reality, a term coined in 1987 after countless attempts to bring computer-generated, sensory experiences to the public. In 1935, this came in the form of a goggle-based system with reflective holograms – and if that all sounds like something out of The Matrix, it’s because it pretty much is. But, four years ago, a California State University dropout called Palmer Luckey founded the most user-friendly head-mounted display technology ever, now known as the Oculus Rift. It was crowdfunded on Kickstarter as well as invested in by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg (who wants to take social networking to a whole new level) and officially put on the market this year for a hefty £499. From next month, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR headsets will rival his device but this immersive tech isn’t just for computer geeks and film enthusiasts, or a gimmick to be used by brands for advertising. The idea of introducing interactive virtual worlds to everyday life is going way beyond 360-degree videos on YouTube of the backstage Dior catwalk show or an access-all-areas Bjork music video. Here is how VR could actually, tangibly affect you…


Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program are already bringing field trips, and awareness of global issues, direct to classrooms via their cardboard VR viewer. Remember learning about dinosaurs and letting your imagination run wild with what prehistoric worlds must have been like? Now, developers can create settings for things that no longer exist or places and people that are hard to access, allowing students to completely immerse themselves and visualise what they’re reading about. GCSE history suddenly seems a lot more appealing, right? Virtual reality environments can also help pinpoint and reduce fears and phobias in people and are being used to help autistic children as well as those suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Fashion and culture

In an industry where “you’re not on the guestlist” is one of the most overused phrases, it’s no surprise that companies like YouVisit are creating platforms to view and explore hard-to-access places. Five years ago, live catwalk streaming changed the face of Fashion Week, allowing the public to watch the entire thing without being invited but that was only from one point of view rather than a 360-degree virtual tour. This usage of VR will undoubtedly be beneficial to the property business, as well as for galleries and museums.

Gaming and sports

With the ability to replicate any scenario, VR headsets and controllers are able to put anyone in any situation, from a cricket pitch to an archery range, to hone their skills IRL. According to global creative production agency and studio, Happy Finish, who specialise in cross-platform 360° content, this is going to be a gamechanger across professional sports and leisure: “We created a virtual reality cricket experience to give anyone the experience of stepping up to bat. It was a very simple example of what VR can do for sports and gaming. VR is already being used by organisations like The NFL to train quarterbacks in tactics relevant to their team so this element of VR practice in sports is undoubtedly going to become more widespread.” Basically, sports stars could have the option of training in their homes at any time of day. During my trial, I was transported to a baseball field and felt like a pro pitcher by the end of it. I was also transported into a terrifying desert scape filled with zombies – the game may have been virtual but my gasps were very much real.


Pornhub have recently teamed up with BaDoinkVR to launch 360, immersive porn. If you’ve ever found yourself too distracted to get into porn, try completely immersing yourself into a scene by taking on the role of one of the actors. I’ve never watched porn in 3D but maybe I ought to have done to prepare myself for this. With the headset on, you find yourself staring at your naked avatar, looking down at breasts that are in place of your own – which wasn’t quite as terrifying as when I glanced at my crotch to find I’d suddenly grown a penis. Was the experience sexy? Not particularly but it was educational. Then again, men in Japan are now paying £300 to wear a sex suit (complete with squishy boobs to feel up and a groin-stimulator) to don a virtual reality headset that plays 4-dimensional porn for total next-gen masturbation.


Not only can scenarios be replicated for medical professionals to have virtual-hand experience (think specific surgeries complete with virtual tools) but VR can help the general public understand what it’s like to have mental health issues like dementia, as well as illnesses like migraines, by letting them experience episodes themselves. VR can also be used during painful medical procedures as a form of pain therapy serving as a literal in-your-face distraction that’s hard to ignore. And earlier this month, the first ever virtual reality operation was streamed live from Royal London Hospital to allow medical students and trainee surgeons to immerse themselves in the two-hour long procedure removing cancerous tissues from a man’s bowel.


Forget using Instagram geotags to decide on your next destination, tourist boards and holiday companies are now bringing location experiences to consumers, meaning you can see, hear and explore what cultural attractions and natural environments could be waiting for you on the other side of a flight. Expedia even worked on 360-degree films to allow terminally ill children to get to see the world from the comfort of a makeshift hospital cinema. And, theme park company Six Flags are planning to get visitors to wear VR devices on their rollercoasters to take them to another world. Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? I suppose it’s going to get a lot harder to say.

How virtual reality could revolutionise family life

A woman uses a VR headset
Late last year, I saw a crowd gathering under the atrium of a shopping centre. They were watching people wearing what looked like large ski goggles, only opaque. The people in these contraptions were twitching and laughing and gasping, and I wondered what the hell was going on.

They were demonstrating Oculus Rift, a virtual reality system – free trials for anyone who wanted to queue. My two younger daughters and I signed up immediately.

It was one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever had. Once you had the headset on, you were transported into a fantastical 3D world, in which – your brain told you – you were an active participant. You were not merely watching the computer-generated world, you were within it. By moving sensors attached to your hands, you could move around this world, in three dimensions.

Incredible though it was, I put it down as an intriguing gimmick, mainly an extension of the video games market. I hadn’t thought it through, but I got a nudge recently when Mark Zuckerberg, co-creator of Facebook, whose company has purchased OR, starting talking about a new “social VR” team for Oculus Rift, quite separate from the gaming concern. “Imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends anytime you want,” said Zuckerberg.

Astonishing though this is (you could eventually design tactile body suits, that, for instance, could reproduce the feeling of heat from the fire), Zuckerberg for once was under-hyping the idea, for it seems to contain possibilities that are barely imaginable and might make the current state of social networks – including those wrought by Facebook itself, Twitter, smartphones and the PC revolution in general – seem positively antediluvian.

This might sound far fetched if you haven’t tried Oculus Rift, but the headset produces something that is really not that far at all from a real-life experience. So what kind of impact could such a development have on families?

Well, good and bad, like all such technological advances. One can very quickly imagine the “real world” – and the distinction between real and virtual is becoming increasingly blurred – having too many boundaries to satisfy the post-millennials. Why hang out with your family or your friends when you can travel to Mars and chill with some aliens? For teenagers, why bother to try to find the boy or girl of your dreams when you can generate one in 3D within your head, so to speak. And with the right kind of body suit, even sex might be limitlessly available. Even sex with age-appropriate Martians.


Bizarre though this is, this reality is liable to arrive in my lifetime. However, although it can seem frightening – the social isolation of the millennials to the power of 10 – one can also imagine some encouraging aspects.

Imagine one of your family is on the other side of the world, and falls seriously ill. From your hospital bed, you could meet with them, talk to them, and even possibly “touch” them. Or if you were simply lonely, you could meet any number of virtual people with a level of reality that the internet as it stands can only hint at.

Now that we are gradually realising that reality itself is, as much as anything else, a construction inside our heads – and if you doubt that, ask yourself why you can never touch a rainbow – then the possibilities are limitless. Families will have the chance to exist across several dimensions. The fact that you haven’t “seen” your son or daughter for 10 years, might take on a different meaning entirely, if you have “experienced” them instead.

I can’t help but be excited. I’ll be in the first for the queue for OR when it starts shipping this month. And then you might not hear from me for a while. If ever.

After all, why do I need to keep earning a living when living in the real world turns out to be optional?


My virtual-reality headset: ‘VR has the potential to educate and connect people’

Virtual Reality people don’t care about Actual Reality people, because they can’t see us.
Virtual Reality people don’t care about Actual Reality people because they can’t see us. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

What does my virtual-reality headset say about me?

Stef owns a variety of virtual reality headsets and is currently developing a VR game called Pixel Ripped. “It says I’m a big gamer, but my eyes have been opened to the potential of VR for education and to connect people. Unfortunately, the headsets are still pretty dorky-looking.”

And what it really says

Stef is looking about as cool as you can with a Virtual Reality headset on, which is not very cool at all. VR headsets look like someone has stuck a sandwich toaster on a pair of welding goggles: there aren’t too many ways of styling these out. Still, I can’t imagine Stef is bothered. Virtual Reality people don’t care about Actual Reality people because they can’t see us. They’re in another world, and it’s a lot more absorbing than us sneerers, pulling faces at them on the bus.

To me, VR is like a very fast hallucinogen. Bang the headset on and zoom goes your head, straight into something far more interesting than everyday existence. You’re a superhero jumping off a burning bridge, a daredevil agent doing parkour, a small woodland creature ferreting for nuts (or is that last one just magic mushrooms?). Plus, VR is expensive and often makes me feel sick. It’s legal, though, which is nice.

Unlike most of us, queuing up to try VR on a digital fun day with the kids, Stef has a proper reason for wearing her mad goggles: she designs games for a living, and many games will soon be VR. Then parents will find their teenagers really can’t see or hear them, rather than just pretending they can’t.

Perhaps Stef could take a break from designing games and design a headset that isn’t so clonky. One that has fake eyes on the front, maybe? Or a slogan: “My Other World’s a Porsche (and I’m Driving at 150mph Straight into a Brick Wall).” I’m not sure she’s going to want to, though. For gamers, gaming is often better than real life. Fair enough. We all need an escape.

If you would like Miranda to cast an eye over your favourite possession, email a photograph to magazine@observer.co.uk

Virtual tours new tool in home-selling business

The days of model homes aren’t numbered, but prospective new home buyers don’t have to rely solely on the finished product anymore for a walk-through.


Builders and real estate companies now offer virtual home tours either via computer, interactive office displays or headsets with three-dimensional images.

Kiawah Island Real Estate is using new virtual reality headsets to show prospective buyers the insides of homes that have not been built yet.
Enlarge Kiawah Island Real Estate is using new virtual reality headsets to show prospective buyers the insides of homes that have not been built yet. Chris Hanclosky/Staff
Kiawah Island Real Estate and K. Hovnanian Homes, a New Jersey-based home builder in Cane Bay Plantation in Berkeley County, are just two of the companies offering tours without physically touring a house.
That’s not to say they are minimizing the importance of experiencing a stick-and-bricks walk-through, but home buyers now have other options to help them decide on, for many, the biggest purchase of their lives.

On upscale Kiawah Island, prospective purchasers can scroll through an interactive screen at the office or on smartphones or iPads to see any number of existing homes on the market, different neighborhoods, island restaurants, recreation offerings and points of interest. They can even see doll house views in three-dimensional images of certain existing homes via computer.

Even drones have been incorporated in filming future homes sites. Now, home seekers at Kiawah have a new option where they don’t use their fingers on a screen but their eyes to see custom homes that haven’t been built yet.

Kiawah Island Real Estate has adopted new technology that allows prospective home buyers to look at conceptual products through viewfinders.

Enlarge Houghton
With the help of a virtual imaging company in Bluffton, architectural drawings of interiors, complete with furnishings, are transformed into a virtual room-by-room walk-through.

Using special headsets or goggles, interested parties can tour a variety of yet-to-be-built luxury home concepts in the waterfront island’s Cassique Clubhouse Village and Marsh Walk neighborhoods. Actual foliage and views outside the unbuilt houses captured at future home sites by the imaging contractor, allow the interested party to see the natural surroundings of the lot.

“It’s one more step to make it more real,” said Bill Houghton, senior vice president of marketing at Kiawah. Over Easter, Kiawah agents took home seekers to a house with just the frames up and allowed them to stand in any room and see what the finished product might look like using the headset.

“Everybody does the ‘wow’ thing,” he said of their reaction. “There is still nothing better than the real thing, but everybody wants to try to make it as real as possible.”

In Cane Bay, K. Hovnanian Homes offers interested buyers an interactive display, not only in the sales office but online along with cardboard headsets as well. Other companies, including Carolina One Real Estate, incorporate the cardboard headsets, too, and Kiawah is considering adopting them. Customers log onto a company website, put their phone in the headset and view images of homes.

Sam Abruzzo with K. Hovnanian Homes shows some of the features on the interactive display in the home builder’s sales office at Cane Bay Plantation in Berkeley County.
Enlarge Sam Abruzzo with K. Hovnanian Homes shows some of the features on the interactive display in the home builder’s sales office at Cane Bay Plantation in Berkeley County. Leroy Burnell/Staff
Glenn LePine and wife P.J. of Goose Creek discovered the interactive display at K. Hovnanian Homes and fell in love with it.

“It’s OK to look at a piece of paper, but you don’t get a feel for what the room or the inside looks like until you bring it up on the screen and see how everything lines up and comes together,” he said.

The Lepines, both in their 60s, are buying a home that hasn’t been built yet in the new 55-plus community called Four Seasons at Lakes of Cane Bay. He said they couldn’t be happier with the technology that walked them through their new home.

The same program on the interactive display can also be downloaded on a smartphone or iPad.

“It’s nice to be able to compare plans,” Lepine said. “We can do our comparisons without anyone breathing down our neck, not that they do that there. It’s so much easier to call it up on our iPad or iPhone instead of going back to the builder because you forget what something looks like.”

This picture shows an image of a rendering of a home on Kiawah Island in the new virtual reality technology that Kiawah Island Real Estate is using to market homes.
Enlarge This picture shows an image of a rendering of a home on Kiawah Island in the new virtual reality technology that Kiawah Island Real Estate is using to market homes. Kiawah Island Real Estate
The large-screen, interactive display at the home builder’s office allows interested buyers to see exactly what a room looks like from 360 degrees no matter where they are standing in any home.

By drawing a line on the screen with a finger, a client can measure the kitchen’s central island down to the inch. If you want to see how a bed fits against one wall or another, just move it around on the interactive display.

By looking at his future house on his smartphone while looking for a new refrigerator for the new house, Lepine used it to see if the size of the appliance would fit snugly with the cabinets or stick out into the kitchen.

“It gives you a better idea in that instance of what we would be looking for in a refrigerator,” Lepine said.

“It is certainly a great tool that helps people visualize the house a little bit better than a two-dimensional floor plan,” said Sam Abruzzo, senior community manager of K. Hovnanian Homes. “We don’t ever want to minimize the importance of purchasing a home with a sales manager because you can see it, touch it and feel it. It’s just another great tool.”

Not going away
Abruzzo doesn’t see model homes ever going away, but he said improvements in the digital world could dictate the future of home buying even more.

“It will sway a little more to technology and a little less to stick and bricks,” he said.

And while the technology is cool, it doesn’t include every aspect of buying a home — yet.

Buyers can’t change paint colors on the walls on the interactive display, they can’t position a house on a particular lot on the interactive screen, and they can’t see the home’s exterior.

“The technology hasn’t advanced that far yet,” Abruzzo said.

Carolina One, the largest real estate agency in the Charleston area, isn’t using interactive displays. But its buyers are able to take personal viewers, much like those used by K. Hovnanian, and see room-by-room, three-dimensional images of the insides of existing homes for sale, not unbuilt homes, said Michael Scarafile, president.

“Today, the technology allows a 3-D tour,” he said. “At the end of the day, it allows buyers to narrow down their choices. You can look at different rooms and rule this one out. It can save people some time. While technology is important, you are still talking about the largest purchase people make in their lives. They are still going to see their house.”

He said Kiawah’s offering for homes that haven’t been built yet “changes the picture dramatically” for custom-built homes.

“Obviously, you are not going to build a model of a $2 million spec home,” Scarafile said. “In traditional new home neighborhoods, where you have several home plans that are the same, you will have the model there. It’s not going away.”

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.

4 Industries About To Be Transformed By Virtual Reality

Bob Violino, CenturyLink

After years of hype and speculation, virtual reality (VR) finally showed signs of going mainstream in 2015, with high-profile releases of VR tech for consumers, including Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard. Facebook’s long-anticipated Oculus Rift is now available for pre-order, and this will likely add to VR’s momentum.

“Virtual reality holds incredible promise for enterprise applications,” said J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “While gaming and entertainment tend to capture a lot of media attention, today’s virtual reality tools merit serious consideration from enterprise technology and business leaders.”

Woman Using Virtual Reality Headset

The potential for disruption is most immediate in healthcare, construction, travel and retail, fields in which specific applications are already being developed. Here’s a look at what the virtual future holds for these industries:

1. Construction

Construction firms can use VR in the design and pre-marketing of new projects, allowing builders and clients to view prototypes before the physical work begins. This application can help firms save money by avoiding costly changes.

McCarthy Building Companies uses the technology when building hospitals and other large buildings, specifically projection systems and 3-D glasses that enable multiple users to see how an office or hospital room will look once it’s completed.

“The opportunities in construction are pretty limitless,” said Tom Mainelli, who tracks trends in virtual reality as a vice president at International Data Corp.

Engineers can create public works without having to imagine them first in two dimensions, he said.

“At some point, there will be firms designing, pitching and building with the aid of virtual and augmented reality, and there will be firms that don’t have the technology,” Mainelli said. “And the latter will be playing from behind every time.”

2. Healthcare

In the healthcare sector, the primary way VR will be used, at least early on, will be in education, according to Mainelli.

“Students studying to be doctors will be able to explore the human body in ways not possible today,” Mainelli said. “While there’s no substituting the use of a cadaver at some point in their education, for many courses a virtual body will do. And moving beyond simulating a life-sized body, students will be able to explore systems within [the] body in new and exciting ways.”

As the cost of VR falls, the technology will become disruptive in the industry because it will enable students to study medicine more cheaply—because fewer cadavers would be needed, Mainelli said.

3. Retail

When we shop online, we use abstractions—menus and hierarchies—that are unique to e-commerce and don’t mirror the in-store experience. But VR can reproduce brick-and-mortar shopping realistically, and enhance it by overlaying information about pricing and product details, Gownder said.

There are clear early use cases for VR in retail. The technology will enable customers to view themselves “wearing” new clothes to see how the outfits look and fit, without actually having to try on the clothes in a dressing room.

Eventually, as VR comes into the home, consumers will be able to try on clothes, pick out furniture, and buy wall art without leaving the house, Mainelli said.

4. Travel

Marketers in the travel industry can use VR to promote distant locales, giving travelers an immersive introduction to far-flung tourist destinations, Gownder said. Marriott has already begun using Oculus Rift to showcase distant hotels.

In the long term, it’s realistic to expect that people will purchase VR vacations, visiting far-off locations without leaving home, Mainelli said. Even more interesting is the potential for visiting places that are difficult or impossible to reach.

Mainelli conducted a session at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in which he stood on the virtual deck of a sunken ship while a humpback whale swam up to take a look at him.

“It was amazing, and as the technology improves, people will pay for these experiences,” he said. “Clearly this has the potential to be disruptive if people shift from planning trips to far-off locations to trips to their local VR facility.”

Indeed, the success of VR across all industries will hinge on whether the technology can deliver experiences that rival the real thing—without costing more.