My best friend, a middle school teacher for children with special needs, started working out using virtual reality earlier this year. When that happened, I knew this long-talked-about technology has finally gone mainstream. She calls it pandemic-induced stress relief and a way to work out safely. The few hundred dollars – once a splurge for her wallet – is now a necessary expense.
She’s an example of the shift that has taken place among consumers this year as both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have officially moved beyond Gartner’s hype cycle, meaning the two concepts have matured to the point where they are considered “industry-proofed technology.”
Marketers are usually some of the first to experiment with new technologies to get closer to their customers. As a marketer at Lenovo, I’ve watched our technologies mature and deliver enriching educational experiences, particularly to students around the world who have been learning remotely over the past year.
From our agency partner Zeno’s research, we know that consumers define innovation in 2021 by what makes you feel safer or more secure, improves your wellbeing or health, presents a solution to a problem you have, and simplifies something that was too complex. I’d say AR and VR certainly fit that definition.
For me, the ability for technology to instill empathy in others is transformative, and it will make our society and all of us better for it.
For example, we recently brought people in the U.S. a new way to experience Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech using AR. It’s called “MLK on MLK.” All you need is a smartphone and Internet connectivity. By pointing a smart phone at any MLK street sign, users can watch Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his legendary speech and even walk around 3D sculptures which were inspired by those who were present during that historic moment. As I tried it for myself on MLK Jr. Parkway in Durham, N.C. this past month, history became a bit more real for me.
The ability to experience something in as close to reality as possible is powerful and personal. And it’s never been more accessible to marketers before. I suggest we all make 2021 the year to give it a try in our personal and professional lives.