Much closer to us and away from military and R & D applications, some retailers have already taken the plunge and use virtual reality as a real tool to drive their business performance. We have selected 3 use cases and have voluntarily set aside 360 ​​° film virtual reality experiences to really showcase the true potential of human-machine interactions in virtual reality.

Point-of-sale animation: the virtual reality kitchen configurator from Media-Saturn-Holding GmbH ( Agency : Innovative – Munich, Germany)

Who has already broken his head on Ikea 3D kitchen planning tool? First introduced in stores in 2008, a downloadable online version of the software was launched in 2011. The idea that any consumer can become his own architect and interior designer via the online catalog of Ikea products is certainly a rich idea, but they stopped there: graphics rendered very poor quality, user interface extremely heavy grip, difficulty to project fully by looking at the 3D plan … and if the user could be directly immersed in this 3D plan?

Ikea thus took the plunge last April by unveiling its first beta version of virtual reality kitchen configurator on HTC Vive , but it was not the first to have taken the initiative: owned by Metro Group, the major player of large-scale household and multimedia distribution in Europe Media-Saturn-Holding GmbH (which owns the Saturn and Media Markt subsidiaries) took the initiative of the ‘VR kitchen planner’ last February in two pilot stores in Berlin and headquarters in Ingolstadt.

No more cumbersome and expensive showrooms, now place at VR Showroom! The customer configures the Kiveda kitchen of his dreams in total immersion using the HTC Vive headset and its controllers: it can change the layout of the furniture, its textures and materials, or the size of the elements. Thanks to the room scale of HTC Vive (the perimeter in which the user can physically move, jump, crouch …), it is very easy for the consumer to project himself into his future kitchen in terms of proportions. And as an engaging purchase is rarely done alone but often accompanied by family or friends, a terminal broadcasts in 4K quality the experience that the user lives in real time so that his relatives can also participate in the experience.

Media planning in virtual reality: Advertising configurator for Imediacenter ( Agencies : V-Cult & Hikari Corporate)

BtoB use case, but still linked to retail, Imediacenter’s virtual reality advertising configurator, Auchan Holding’s new 360 ° advertising agency providing advertisers with all the advertising space of the Immochan shopping malls and hypermarkets Auchan. As part of the launch event in Paris last June, V-Cult has created a tool in virtual reality to promote this new service offer but also to stimulate the imagination of the media planners of tomorrow.

This experience consists of an Auchan-type customer journey in virtual reality. The user uses the HTC Vive and visits a fictional Auchan shopping mall modeled in 3D from iconic stores of the group. He can preview several advertising media both in the hypermarket shopping arcade and central aisle (classic and video display, pop up stores, hanging screens …), and interact with them with the headset controllers. It uses teleportation to move around in space but can also physically move in a small area thanks to the room scale defined by HTC Vive.

A light version of the experience designed to turn on mobile and small virtual reality headsets like the Google Cardboard has also been put online. The experiment consists of 360 ° images of the 3D scene. The user can navigate from one point of view to another by fixing for a second the different interaction points located in the scene. Ditto for the information points: a popup appears with some information on the advertising medium concerned. The virtual reality experience has been developed in WebGL and uses the WebVR API, and is thus accessible natively on any mobile web browser via the URL experience360.imediacenter.com or via the QR code printed on the cardboard branded Media Center and distributed to the various journalists and marketing directors present at the launch event in Paris on June 9, 2016.

With the potential offered by the new virtual reality technologies, it would be quite possible to deepen the experience by including an analysis of the user data in order to be able for example to appreciate the “hot zones” or “Cold” of the scene (typically: what are the advertising media that have caught the most attention of consumers?). Here we would have a real decision-making tool available to advertisers and media-planners.

Sales Support Tool for Real Estate Developers: The Matterport Case

Virtual tours are particularly useful for remote property visits and thus reduce the costs associated with the on-site visit. They are therefore a particularly effective pre-sales tool for real estate developers.

Matterport is a Silicon Valley company founded in 2011 that produces a 3D mapping camera (3-dimensional cartography) particularly adapted to the real estate sector. Selling price: $ 4,500, no jarring for professionals in the sector. Bill Brown, CEO & Founder of Matterport, already claims more than 250,000 scanned properties around the world thanks to its solution.

The idea is simple: a photographer uses the Matterport camera to scan the different pieces of real estate in order to obtain floor plans as well as 3D photorealistic models instantly saved in their cloud , viewable in WebGL (natively from an HTML5 web page without downloading plugins or additional software on any desktop device, smartphone or tablet) but also in virtual reality via their applications for Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift.

Attention: Matterport is a great 3D mapping technology, but its experiences of virtual reality visits proposed for the moment consist of a navigation between different points of view, a little like a Google Street View. The user does not have the freedom of movement and interaction with the virtual environment offered by the experiences on HTC Vive through the roomscale. However, it would be quite possible to import captured 3D models with Matterport for later use in a typical HTC Vive environment via dedicated software development.

Written by

Seth Woods