In this blog takeover, Virtual Umbrella's Samantha Kingston shares her thoughts on VR and her life in the world of VR.
Samantha will be on the Women in VR panel discussion on 13th April at 11:30. To buy your tickets to VRWC17, click here
Using VR for the right reasons
VR is my passion. It is what I have built my company Virtual Umbrella on. Being able to work in the VR industry has allowed me to explore a variety of different industries outside of gaming and technology. When we started out, VR games and experiences was our focus, but this quickly advanced into a variety of sectors. There are not many jobs that let you work across industries such as education, healthcare, engineering and more. VR has allowed my team to do that.
Although I think it is great that all these areas are looking at how VR can be used in their world, I have a slight fear of VR being used for the wrong reasons. When it comes to marketing, VR strategies should be a tool used to find a solution, for good or for a benefit or even a great product launch and not just because ‘everyone else is using it’. There must be a purpose, like any tool such as radio or TV. There is a reason you invest time into it. Be the company or individual that uses the medium for the right reasons – create the content that makes a difference to your audience, allow them to see a product, a story or an idea in a new way.
At Virtual Umbrella, we have been able to see the whole process – at the start of an initial VR concept or even jumping in at the end to help solve a problem – it means that we get to see every stage of the journey. VR is a great tool to really explore storytelling, branded content and launches if it is done in the right way.
In 2016, we worked with Hampshire Libraries to help provide a VR tour to a select number of libraries across Hampshire. The tour was designed to investigate if technology like VR would be suitable to have in-house. We showed a variety of narrative driven content that gave those visiting the libraries a new way of exploring stories. The results were incredible, the communities were really open to the idea of having access to the tech in their local libraries and were keen to learn more about how it works. Hampshire Libraries are now working on bringing innovation labs to their libraries. I can’t wait to see the results, as it’s just the beginning.
I have really admired watching the BBC launch into VR and create some very strong narrative pieces. I have had the pleasure of demoing some around the country and it has been great to see the responses from the public. Easter Rising and Turning Forest have always been the ones that gained a lot of positive reactions, people excited that the BBC are involved in looking at innovative technology and always asking where they can see more or download the content.
It has also been great to see content that could be potentially turned into programmed style content. For example, #NoSmallTalk by the BBC & VR City is something that has really got my attention recently. It’s an experimental 360 conversation between two young women about big ideas and their day to day life. The reason this has stood out is it’s the type of content that I could see working as programmed content. Something you can download every week like your favourite podcast. It’s the type of content that I see appealing to young entrepreneurs. It gets me super excited. Audience is key when it comes to this industry and think this just shows a step in the right direction.
Something that I always like to throw out into conversation is, ‘who are we making content for?’ When creating VR content how do we think about the audience? Do you think about what type of content they are looking for? Have you ever found a piece of content that has made you think ‘this was made for me’ or ‘this is exactly what I have been looking for’. This is something I have been personally exploring and I’m on the hunt to find content that really drives this conversation.
Women in VR
I am really looking forward to heading back to VR World congress this year. I have been to every VRWC conference and it has been great to support the team. This will be my second time round running the Women in VR Panel. Last year we introduced the topic and brought a mixture of women to the stage. This year I am excited to re-visit this panel and bring together more great women who are working in very different areas of the industry. Expect an interesting look into the industry and where 2017 is going for VR content.
We will have some exciting announcements to share so make sure you come along and meet the great panel.