Virtually reality

This isn’t the first time that I’ve tried to write a blog on virtual reality (VR). In January, when Oculus announced pre-sale of their Rift headset; in February after Mark Zuckerberg stole the show at the Mobile World Congress during the Samsung keynote; in March after SXSW; in April after the F8 conference when Zuckerberg returned to outline Facebook’s vision with 360 video being a key component; and now after Google I/O where their answer to VR – Daydream – was announced. That’s a major announcement, sometimes multiple announcements, every month since the turn of the year.

So, why the excitement, why now, and what does it mean in healthcare?

Communications platform of the present

As the beginning of 2016 shows, VR isn’t new. It is no longer science-fiction – it is science-reality and has been for some time. When Mark Zuckerberg announced the acquisition of Oculus in 2014, he said:

“This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

The immediate reason why VR has become so mainstream is your mobile. Before we can entertain a screen-less future, we must embrace multiscreen where your mobile is at the heart of it all. Last year, for the first time, mobile search overtook desktop search indicating a shift in how we access information. Developers and creatives understand that we can achieve an awful lot with this device and it’s penetrated the market with over 80% of people expected to own a smartphone by 2020.

It’s the perfect storm for VR innovation and this swell has already crept into healthcare – as well it should.

In April, at the Royal London Hospital, the world’s first operation was broadcast live in 360 video. People could watch it with their mobile and a Google Cardboard, or live online. It made national press in the UK and across the world. VR is news in itself, for now. While this has stolen the show, there are hundreds of examples of how VR/360 video is making a real difference in healthcare. In pain; in dementia; in anxiety, the list goes on and will continue to build.

People are working out how to use it to effectively communicate and that’s the real power of VR (or indeed augmented reality or mixed reality – that’s another blog!), especially in healthcare as you can uniquely communicate what it means to live with a condition, all while giving power to the user who can control what they see enabling them to build personal empathy. What’s most exciting is that increasingly healthcare is embracing this technological revolution.

It’s gone beyond hype and gimmick as the developers are identifying healthcare as one of their main revenue drivers. Why? Because there’s real purpose in healthcare.

What if you could show people the impact of a condition, how it takes over people’s lives, and the genuine support they need to get through the day? This helps demonstrate true value to those that are responsible for treating those living with it and puts the person at the core of the narrative.

At Aurora, we have done just that and we did it in record time. The challenge that the audience can now control what they see makes the narrative more complicated, but we’re storytellers at heart and we believe in bringing experiences to life to ensure access to innovative medicines.

If you would like to find out how Aurora can help support access to your innovation – or simply hear a little more about what’s the next big thing in digital / medical technology – please get in touch.

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