This past June marked the second annual Virtual and Augmented Reality World Conference and Expo here in Toronto. Their showcase of new and exciting applications for the rapidly evolving technology begs the question, what does the future of VR and AR look like?
From everything seen and heard at VRTO, consumers can expect to see a big impact in the very near future. As VRTO founder Keram Maliki-Sanchez notes, “VR isn’t simply something for ‘Toys”R”Us’ shelves at Christmas; VR & AR will be a part of everything with profound implications for many industries. Health, education, entertainment, commerce, tourism, research — these technologies will transform the world.”
Nowhere is this innovation more welcomed than in the world of travel. Travel enthusiasts specifically are voracious consumers of social media content – Instagram photos go farther than a standard print ad in terms of converting to bookings.
Imagine being able to immerse yourself in a destination before deciding if it’s really somewhere you want to visit? Thinking of visiting exotic Tahiti? Book an appointment with a travel agent offering the VR experience and surrender to the islands for a few minutes. And what if destinations could reach their target audiences by participating in online travel marketplaces, saving companies thousands of dollars in the process? Enter the world of Tourism VR.
VR has been available to travel agents for a few years, but with the recent launch of TravelWeek’s XLPR VR in Canada, the technology is becoming more affordable and available to consumers. On the B2B side, virtual trade shows are gaining popularity, allowing destinations to connect online with the travel trade industry in much the same way you would at standard trade shows, all without the added expenses of travel, collateral printing and time.
So what’s next? Will workplaces create “time out VR” areas for employees to de-stress and escape for a few minutes to an exotic locale on their lunch break? (this would get our vote). Will schools incorporate VR into their history lessons, allowing students to be on the ground at The Battle of Vimy Ridge? Whatever the future holds for VR, it’s clear that we’ve only scratched the surface.