At our recently held convention vdonxt asia, Chaitanya Chunduri, country lead, India, AR (augmented reality)/VR (virtual reality), Google, spoke about the world of immersive media that awaits brands.
Google's Chunduri, says, "When sound is directional, when there's imagery that surrounds you, and when there's head motion tracking that's done really well, you achieve 'immersion'. It's a very powerful piece of experience. So powerful, it can even lead to a subconscious shift in your point of view. And when your brain starts believing in this new point of view, you achieve 'presence'."
"We believe the closer we get to interacting with computers, like we would intuitively interact among ourselves, the more powerful the experience would become," he says going on to explain the arc of the human-computer interface. Say, humanity was at one end of the equation and computers, at the other. Each time we saw a layer of abstraction being removed between the two, we'd step that much closer to interacting with computers. And that's what has happened over the years, Chunduri explains.
The real breakthrough, Chunduri reminds, took place in the '90s, with the advent of graphical user interface. As more layers of abstraction were peeled away, computers made their way into our homes. A decade later, computers found a new home - our palms, as the smartphone revolution took over. "Today, more than 300 million Indians, who use this computing for practically every single purpose in life, take this computing for granted," he says, before posing few thought-provoking questions.
What if, instead of having to stare at our screens constantly, we were to hold our heads up in the real and virtual worlds around us? What if we could interact with things just by looking at them? What if computing was woven seamlessly into the environment all around us? "We believe this is the next inevitable step along the arc of computing interfaces. At Google, we call it 'immersive computing'," he says, painting a picture for the audience: with reality as we know it at one end of the spectrum, computer-generated reality (virtual reality) on the other end, and digital artifacts/digital information (augmented reality) in-between. Google Expeditions, a virtual reality teaching tool is an example of this.
Applying this to the world of media, Chunduri explains that immersive media ads drive deeper engagement with the audience. Talking about moving from 'storytelling' to 'storyliving', he says, "Growth in media options is inversely proportionate to consumers' attention span. For media to be effective, it has to be immersive. That's where formats like AR and VR (say, 360 degree ads or immersive media display ads) can help," he says, "Better immersion leads to better engagement, which leads to better brand output... and eventually higher sales. It could bring a brand alive across newer touchpoints, channels," He brought up Google's recently launched AR Stickers in this context.
He pointed out that the reach of formats like AR and VR are, by definition, same as the reach of smartphones, YouTube and mobile internet. For example, a piece of content on YouTube could be viewed in 360 without the need for a head device/hardware gear. Google calls this 'Magic Window Experience'. Here he spoke about Google's WebVR that allows creators to upload their content and share it using a single URL that can be experienced across devices. When it comes to Google's VR tool Cardboard, India is the second largest market in the world (parameter: app installs). Another device he spoke about is the Daydream Viewer (for premium mobile VR that affords long duration immersion in content).
In conclusion, Chunduri summed up, "There's going to be some great content coming up in this space. If you have compelling creative vision, access to talent, IP and distribution, we (Google) can help in terms of hardware and software."