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April 20, 2017updated 22 Jul 2022 11:15am

Why a 3D David Attenborough points to a Planet Earth driven by virtual customer experience

The customer experience is going virtual, with many companies rushing to embrace this new immersive era.

By Ellie Burns

If you are like me, who can only trust nature programmes narrated by Sir David Attenborough, you will be delighted to hear that the veteran broadcaster and naturalist is going 3D as part of a new virtual reality experience.

Sir Attenborough will join the likes of Elvis and Tupac Shakur in being turned into a hologram, with London’s Natural History Museum working in collaboration with Sky and Factory 42 to bring history to life.

Users of the Sky VR app will be able to access one-to-one insights into rare collections, with Sir Attenborough acting as a 3D guide to fossils and objects. Dubbed ‘Hold the World’, users will be able to ‘virtually handle’ the objects and fully immerse themselves in some of the Natural History Museums most amazing collections.

“I have enjoyed helping people to discover more about the natural world, and Hold the World offers people a unique opportunity: to examine rare objects, some millions of years old, up close,” Sir Attenborough said in a statement.

“It represents an extraordinary new step in how people can explore and experience nature, all from the comfort of their own homes and I am delighted to be able to help users uncover some of the treasures the Natural History Museum has to offer in a thrilling new way.”

However, Attenborough in 3D signifies more than just bringing history to life. When brought alongside other VR moves, one can see the future of customer experience evolving with each and every innovation.

Ford only recently rolled out virtual test-drives, while Openreach celebrated its new found freedom with proposals about virtual recruitment. Businesses are seizing upon virtual experiences to better serve, communicate and interact with customers, with businesses reacting to this new technology by creating entire new business models and throwing money into R&D.

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“The advent of virtual and augmented reality has ushered in a new era of entertainment, opening new businesses models, and giving audiences the chance to experience the world differently,” said Justin Vaughan-Brown from AppDynamics.

“Sky’s VR initiative with the Natural History Museum is a fantastic example of how organisations can innovate through cutting-edge technology to deliver novel and engaging experiences to consumers.”

The proliferation of the internet and devices is forcing innovation among many companies, with VR technology offering boosts to brand awareness and competitive edge. As the VR uptake among consumers continues to gather pace, the VR experience will become more in-demand in the B2B and B2C markets, as CCS Insight’s Ben Wood recently observed:

“The technology continues to improve dramatically and 2017 will see the emergence of untethered solutions that will be more immersive than ever. Audiences will have access to a more diverse range of ever-richer content and experiences that we believe will further boost the market. The proliferation of VR experiences in theme parks, at cinemas and in other locations such as car showrooms and travel agents offering ‘look before you book’ experiences will only serve to educate users on the potential of the technology”.

Read more: 10 future technologies that will change the world

However, the rush to innovation may prove to be the fly in the ointment for many. While consumers will demand this new customer experience driven by technology like VR, businesses must be wary not to cut corners when going all in on the immersive offering. Performance, argues Mr Vaughn-Brown, will be key to winning the VR race.

“Despite the massive opportunities virtual technologies present, their potential can only be realised if applications and services perform flawlessly.

“The technology must be natural for consumers to interact with. Failure in VR performance takes the user out of the immerse experience and shatters that illusion instantly. Brands will need to invest as much time in ensuring the experience lives up to the hype, as they do in building the experience itself. Exchanges of views on apps are now commonplace on social media, so there is huge potential for increased uptake if positive feedback is shared by users.”

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