On Tuesday our team attended Now / Next / Why, a one-day event covering the trends and shifts impacting the way brands market themselves. We’ve asked each of our team to tell us about their best insight from the day.
When Experiences Get Real
Dino Burbidge, Director of Technology & Innovation
Everyone always likes to be reassured what “this year’s thing” is. Last year it was a smorgasbord of drones, wearables, the internet of things, quirky messaging apps and virtual reality. Many of them have a very real part to play in our every-day experiences. What some of us still call “actual reality”. Experience isn’t just a digital thing, something owned by a ‘UX specialist’. It’s everything we do, touch and feel. For our industry, it’s everything we judge a brand by when it enters our world. We have to think beyond interfaces. The lines are blurring.
Virtual reality is in a very blurry space right now. Mention virtual reality to most people and they’ll say “Oh yeah, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, right?”. Well, yes, kind of. But strictly sparking, these are “visual reality”. You just use your eyes and maybe your ears. All of the other part of reality is missing. Touch, smell, movement, temperature and all those other subtle pseudo-senses in-between that create the… experience. Enter the buzz-word of the year so far, haptics.
Haptics is physical feedback. Anything from gloves that mimic touch, screens that give a sense of texture, rigs that allow you to fly like a bird by flapping your arms and even duplicating the physical space to match visuals in the headset. The most exciting advance is ultrasonic haptics. Using ultrasonic sound waves to provide force feedback in thin air. You can actually “feel” objects that aren’t there because the sound waves have been focused to create a tangible “force field” in front of you. Yep. That’s happening.
Nobody seems to have joined up all the dots just yet but the future is exciting and not really that far off. As the experience becomes more real and less virtual, will it we have to come up with a new name for it?