GE, Nokia and Oculus Push Virtual Reality as Facebook Doubles Down

Virtual reality is the latest movie/game/video experience and destination all in one, and the early players are eagerly imagining the possibilities. That’s why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is touting VR as the next frontier for the brand, investing in its Oculus business to pioneer new experiences for consumers and marketers alike. As Zuckerberg said on Wednesday’s quarterly earnings call,

We’re going through a period where now it’s mostly visual and photos. We are entering into a period where that’s going to increasingly be primarily videos, and we’re seeing huge growth there. But that’s not the end of the line, right? I mean, there’s always a richer way that people want to share and consume thoughts and ideas, and I think that immersive 3D content is the obvious next thing after video.

That’s welcome news and a call to action for brands already investing in immersive 3D content to keep stepping up. Joining the party, GE has been busy creating VR experiences for all the major platforms including Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard and YouTube 360.

That’s YouTube’s 360-degree showcase for VR including ads and short films by brands—such as Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever ad above, its first, or Subaru’s tour of Mt. Washington below—in addition to videos making Google Cardboard the star.

The GE Neuro VR experience, for example, behaves like a virtual portal into the human brain, leveraging photographer and DJ Reuben Wu’s experiences of how music affects the human brain, as Fast Company notes.

Another experience, GE 360, gives viewers a behind-the-­scenes look with creator-in-residence Sally Le Page into the making of GE’s Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive and its 9HA Gas Turbine, massive machines at work in some of the company’s most remote locations across the US.

Beyond projects, GE has created a VR channel (in partnership with Reel FX) for Samsung’s Milk platform called Science by GE, which offers new weekly experiences and showcases GE’s R&D labs. The co-branded relationship helps GE expand and engage its audience—and its cool factor, too, as the visuals are stunning—while Samsung is still pushing consumer adoption of its Gear VR.

An impetus for GE’s VR investment was bolstered last year with GE’s subsea oil technology VR Project to collect and discover gas and oil deposits in the ocean. “After we saw it worked in subsea, we wanted to commit to telling more of our stories in this way,” said Katrina Craigwell, GE’s head of content and programming, to Fast Company.

“From the work on Instagram, to our YouTube videos, and now VR, we as a brand lean in to visual content because these stories are complex and technical and we’re talking about work, research and manufacturing that’s happening in many areas and industries that are difficult to access,” added Craigwell. “We see VR as something with the potential to go a step further and really bring people to the bottom of the ocean, or into a test facility, or into the brain.”

For those without VR hardware such as Samsung’s Gear VR (a partnership with Oculus), all of GE’s VR experiences will be available on the YouTube 360 channel by August 8th.

Eager to contribute to state-of-the-art VR, Nokia’s latest virtual reality product was released this week with its OZO camera. Designed for professional filmmakers, the spherical device boasts eight shutters to capture 360-degrees of video with eight integrated microphones.

Users can see what they’re filming in process through a VR headset, and can produce a low-resolution version of the footage within a few minutes. It’s slated to be shipped out by Q4 2015.

Not to be left out, Facebook-owned Oculus this week released Henry, “a warm and fuzzy intro to virtual reality films.” The branded entertainment is set in Henry the hedgehog’s tiny home—he knows someone is there and reacts to their presence in a charming demonstration of the power of VR to enhance storytelling.

Posted on August 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

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