Could Virtual Travel Be The Next Big Thing?
Photos courtesy of Oculus VR.
Virtual reality is all the rage right now with the Kickstarted Oculus VR recently being bought out by Facebook to the tune of $2 billion in cash plus stock options. Samsung has already jumped onboard by using the technology in their new Samsung Gear VR, and the Oculus Rift Headset is expected out sometime this year.
With the applications currently being explored in the gaming and film industry, there are also some companies that are developing content in other areas. Blogger, author and journalist La Carmina has her sights set on the VR revolution and its effect on the travel industry.
La Carmina in partnership with Radius VR shoot virtual reality travel videos with their specialized camera, which captures footage from all directions. This allows viewers to walk on the beach, explore the downtown of a city or sail on a boat in a fully immersed 360 degree environment. They can see, hear and experience a destination all from the comfort of their own home.
But what if you don’t have the money for the Oculus or Gear VR? Not to worry, as most of the 3D enabled videos can be viewed with Google Cardboard, a device that can be bought for as cheap as five dollars on eBay or even handcrafted yourself. Check out videos that are posted to YouTube and you are well on your way to seeing your soon-to-be destination.
The potential of these devices and videos are not just at the consumer level. Travel professionals could use these to give their clients a sense of a destination right in their office before they book. Even right now, large companies like Destination BC, Thomas Cook and Marriott are all embracing VR and have plans in the works to do more with the technology. Imagine being able to walk around a hotel room to really get a feel for it before you book it.
The cruise ship industry has bought into the technology hook, line and sinker with Azamara debuting its new “Destination Immersive” 3-D Technology to trade media at the cruise3sixty travel agent conference this past week. Also this week, MSC Cruises debuted their new virtual ship tour with the same 3-D technology.
Imagine people never having to worry about cabin size being the caveat holding them back from booking. What a great way to quell the fears and misinformation about a destination by allowing the client to see it for themselves. Maybe you are wondering if the beach at the resort where you are booking your wedding has the perfect sunset views. Now, you can check it out.
If you are thinking about boarding the family pet while on your vacation but are unsure of the facility, now you can check it out. (They could really have some fun with this and do it at the dog’s-eye level!)
The possibilities are unlimited and it looks like we may finally have a consumer-based VR solution that is not only affordable, but also supported by big business. And with content developers like La Carmina, there will be no shortage of content available either. Where would you like to virtually go? Have you used one of these new products? Let me know in the comments below.
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