Over the years I have been asked to join a number of client advisory boards for a multitude of companies. Today I was with Microsoft, I was expecting to be discussing data and tech and some of the hot topics of programmatic. However there was an agenda item I was certainly looking forward to. Hololens.
The whole Virtual reality, hologram excitement had passed me by to date. Oculus was gaming with a motorcycle goggles on and although not correctly in the same camp, Google Glass was just a let down. That said I am a techy at heart and so was keen to see what it could do.
I was left absolutely gob smacked, I think the room was and even more so when we found out that everything I was seeing was actually real, not mocked, real. I know I was not the only one who left that room thinking that we had just seen the future, a future that changes everything and I am talking about how we see, think, learn, and do. I will come back to marketing later but first let me try and explain it.
You slip on the goggles with visor that gives you a big visual canvas but still allows you the opportunity to look down and out the sides, giving you a sense of stability and less motion sickness. Once you put on goggles they take in your surroundings and you can start to create a VR world layered upon yours. There were so many highlights – check the video here, but let me list a few of the simpler ones!
- Watching – open the Netflix App and turn it into a 40″ viewing experience or a cinema experience on your wall – or at least that’s the impression you get.
- Communicating – take Skype app and have it float in mid air, following you as you walk and chat simultaneously or just there as you sit.
- Educational – Need to change that fuse but don’t know how? Get your dad to dial in via his tablet on Skype. He sees what you see and can annotate and point right in front of your eyes so it looks like he is actually circling the wire, he can show you exactly what to do.
- Schooling – your son needs to understand the body? Well have him see a life size body being stripped to bones / organs and more in a non gruesome way and see how the body functions.
- Gaming – let’s face it Warcraft gets dull in the same old environments, turn your house into the playground, right up to knocking huge holes in your walls to reveal another universe the other side.
What I love about this tech is that you can pin Apps to locations – so when you put the glasses on, if you want to have the Netflix app always on the same wall – it will be there just like your big TV screen. If you want the weather and your to do list on the fridge door, so be it. Alternatively if you want them to follow you around, it can do that too. You create another parallel world that appears every time you put on the glasses.
Don’t you have to wear those crazy glasses all the time? Well yes you do but first expect to see the tech get smaller and smaller and secondly imagine at least to start with that they will be used in a task led way. Watch something, talk to someone, demonstrate something, I could see it working. As the apps that are created grow I can see this being something that truly changes our world and from an educational, human support perspective very much for the better. Some have made comparisons with Google Glass but they wanted you to walk the streets with Glass, these are more for home and office which makes the act more manageable.
Of course in our business we have to answer the big question of what it means for marketeers. The first thing I thought was that this was another topic to add to my blog ‘the death of advertising.’ When asked by Microsoft about advertising I think we were all suddenly shocked to find that we did not want to think about it, it was too blunt in this environment. As we chatted though we started to realise that the role of marketing is to provide experiences not Ads. We have talked about this theme for some time but this was the opportunity. Live chat customer service turns into holographic walk through of what to do, car configuration is life size in your room, hotel reviews include walking into the room to see it and so on. What it is not is Blade Runner esq Ads talking at you from every angle when you put the goggles on.
The overall sentiment was that we as an industry have an obligation to protect this new world and enhance our marketing opportunities rather than ruin the Hololens experience. We also get that the data generated by such a system will mean an even deeper lense into how we behave and consider purchases and again we need to have the utmost respect for that data and privacy. As this whole system will be on the Windows 10 platform it will also connect with all your other Microsoft activities and be just another ‘screen’ meaning further data connectivity.
Be clear though, in this session we saw the future in our hands today, scary, amazing but bringing a world of opportunity and I think for the first time Microsoft just made the others look ordinary.