Issue #24

Group Media Experiences

Immersive media, from VR to 360-video, is no longer a solitary experience.

There is an energy that groups bring to an experience. Half the thrill of a roller coaster ride are the communal screams and post-ride chatter with other participants. In the years since VR went mainstream in events, marketers have evolved their strategies from seated activations to walkable VR viewing to interactive VR with motion-sensing tools. But thanks to high-tech media “sets,” attendees no longer have to experience the thrills of immersive content alone. The group viewing experience has arrived in the space.

Take HP, which at Panorama Festival in New York City and Coachella activated domed theaters equipped with a 4K, 360-degree screen, air conditioning and comfy seating. Four hundred festivalgoers at a time kicked back to watch a NASA and HP Zbook-inspired content experience surrounding the international space station. At Coachella, festivalgoers went on a trip through the desert, through the human body and through geometric landscapes. There are several dome and content “portal” providers in the market, including Igloo and VR-MAX.

At the Rio Olympic Games, Samsung turned a goggled VR experience into an exciting group spectacle that involved 4D seats, on which attendees experienced major Olympic sports—seats that moved with the motions of the content. Samsung followed up at CES with VR group rides in seating that moved, spun and rose according to the content, which included a ride down a frozen skeleton racing track, a boat adventure and aircraft stunts.

On top of theaters, rides and domes, sets like vehicles are providing a landscape for multimedia content. Lockheed Martin’s Mars Experience inspired students to think about Mars and the future of space travel while riding on a school bus. For the event, students boarded a special bus for what they were told was a “field trip” and then took a moving “virtual drive” along replica Martian landscapes that appeared outside the windows of the bus.

Consider the solitary VR “chair” out and the frictionless and shared multimedia “escape” in.

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