Lab x Deloitte Digital x Entopic | VR Hackaton
“Customers do not know what they want, until you show it” is a famous quote by Steve Jobs that fits well with hackathons and bootcamp as a tool to get new concepts out of the Power Point mode and into concrete ideas. It is also the best way to test interaction possibilities.
Ambassadors Lab organised in collaboration with Deloitte Digital and Entopic a hackathon to test if you can make a VR prototype in one day. Five small multidisciplinary teams from strategists, creatives and engineers kicked off the day. The concepts will be tested with three questions:
Can we make a concept and working VR prototype in one day?
What can we learn about usability and interaction?
What can we learn about techniques?
WebVR: Virtual Reality in a web browser with carton glasses.
WebVR does not work on all browsers, but the latest version of Chrome and Firefox are no problem. An additional surplus is that the content can be used on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and
Samsung Gear VR. In this hackathon A-Frame WebVR is used.
In two hours a ‘Hello Cardboard’ moment
The teams are assigned to create an interesting e-commerce concept and prototype with WebVR. This can be interesting for the user and organisation. It is important to create a ‘Hello World’ moment early on, which is the moment the concept comes to life in code for the first time.
The teams are advised to spend one hour on the concept and in the next hour focussing on creating that ‘Hello World’ moment, or in this case the ‘Hello Cardboard’ moment. (Cardboard is the name of the carton VR glasses of Google)
By creating this moment early on during the day the work inside the teams will be divided more efficiently. The strategist works on the persona, journey, mini-business case and pitch presentation, the designer looks at interaction, design and presentation while the engineer brings the prototype to life in code.
Use VR as part of an e-commerce client journey
Successful VR implementations in e-commerce can not be offered solely as application, but should be part of a journey. VR applications can have a strong added value to the utilisation and research process of consumers where rich experiences have an added surplus but not necessary have to
lead to a purchase. Think about the inspiration and exploration phases in the client journey. Such applications should form a perfect connection with the other phases of the journey, like selecting and buying. After all, we are asking to put a device on your face and that asks for some patience and some getting used to for the consumer. The experience should have a lot of added value to surpass this obstacle. One of the teams came up with the idea to make VR a part of the responsive design. The content and the way it is consumed is than optimally attuned to the possibilities of the device.
Combine storytelling, a rich experience and a targeted navigation
VR has a lot of potential, also for applications outside the gaming and entertainment industry. Surely, still a lot can be learned from this industry in terms of creating a rich consumer experience. The combination of storytelling, a rich consumer experience and targeted e-commerce navigation, offers VR service providers a new diverse tool in their arsenal.
The created concepts and prototypes:
Concept 1: Find and Experience Toys
The ‘Find and Experience Toys’ VR concept brings the physical experience of the toy store back to the online world. The user will be able to move from the traditional web shop to the virtual shop. Toys will be displayed on round shelves
surrounding the user and can be picked up to take a closer look. The shelves are interactive and can be pushed around. There will be one empty shelve to place your favourites on and when you change your mind just drop the item to remove it from your favourites.
By offering products in VR a big shortcoming of web stores is solved, namely the scales of the products. The risk of disappointment when the size is different than imagined, is lower because the buyer already held the item in the VR shop.
Concept 2: DECOVR – Place the furniture in a virtual room
DECOVR is a VR concept that helps costumers with the buying process of furniture while making it a full experience. To start off you have to make a 360 view of your own room or house and then you can change the furniture with new items to see how a new look would work.
It also offers the possibility to share your old home with professionals who can advise you personally and you can share your new home styling on social media as an inspiration for others. And what about placing the 360 view of your old furniture online so others can immediately buy your furniture?
Concept 3: PEAK – The virtual house viewing
PEAK is a VR API that offers brokers a possibility to organise a house viewing in Virtual Reality. By creating an option in VR the buyer is not compromised by the broker’s availability or their travelling distance and it can show different weather option to create an all around view.
PEAK will be added on existing broker platforms with an extra ‘VR viewing’ option. By wearing the VR glasses the buyer can wander around their possible dream house. You can easily walk around by watching a door for three seconds or sit down by watching the couch for three seconds.
Concept 4: EAT AT – Eating alone together
EAT AT is a VR concept that allows you to dine with friends or family in a chosen place without actually travelling the distance. The service offers the ability to invite other users and the choice of several restaurants, cities or locations by local suppliers. The dinner will start when the menu is delivered and will project you to the chosen location by VR.
The concept is now based on eating together but the possibilities can be much bigger, for example looking at a travel destination together or a trip to the museum.
Concept 5: VR for Hospitality
The VR for Hospitality concept offers tourists and business travellers a realistic view of their possible destination and accommodation. The traveller is projected to the desired destination by the VR glasses and can stroll around in the neighbourhood and accommodation in a 360 view before booking the trip.
Looking back at the three questions we started off with, it is definitely possible to create a VR experience in one day. All teams came with thought out plans and working prototypes.
Usability and interaction are a main focus, but it will take some time before the user is accustomed to the use of this new interaction. But the benefits are so obvious it will not be very long before we see an e-commerce solution in a web environment.
The techniques are still very much in the development phase, the frameworks are not yet stable and the WebVR API is still very experimental, but it is apparent that VR will play a significant roll in the customer journey.