Degrees of immersion

Virtual reality is the perfect medium to make communications campaigns more emotionally relevant. With the increasing spread of devices in the market and the possibility of turning smartphones into virtual reality glasses, VR is opening up bold new possibilities for corporate and marketing communicators.

Practically every day we meet customers from different industries and explain how virtual reality will change business processes, product presentations or corporate communication in the future.

In almost all cases, virtual reality generates a strong emotional reaction and the feedback is positive. Interestingly, there is no significant age difference in how people react to this new medium.

Although younger people in particular learn to use the technology faster, older generations and even schoolchildren very quickly see the advantages of using the technology in their everyday lives. According to evaluations of our ZREALITY Sphere platform, 25-44 year olds are accessing virtual reality content, 63 per cent of them men. So why does virtual reality cause such strong emotional reactions?

In virtual reality, the so-called "degree of immersion" plays an important role. Immersion describes the extent to which virtual reality influences human senses. The higher the degree of immersion, the less a person notices that he is in a virtual reality. With today's technology, one can realistically simulate image, sound and, to a certain degree, "haptics" – interactions involving touch. Nowadays, movement is also freely possible, as more and more mobile data glasses are being used. In the near future, highly realistic avatars will enable us to create a digital version of ourselves that is almost indistinguishable from our own image. With it, you can put a person in an environment that almost resembles a holodeck from Star Trek. At the same time, it becomes possible to communicate with others across physical boundaries - and without disturbing intermediary technology like a smartphone. Virtual reality makes digital communication more human again. In the following, we highlight real examples from corporate communications:

Corporate VR

PEMAT is a leading supplier of industrial concrete mixing plants. PEMAT regularly presents its latest products at trade fairs through the use of virtual reality, thus increasing its sales success by more than 40 per cent. PEMAT's customers are able to experience the entire product range of the company live and this increases the emotional connection to PEMAT as a company and its products. Another company wanted to communicate new values and ways of working to its leadership team and created a virtual reality "experience programme".

The leadership team first took 360-degree photos of the company's production facilities to learn about production processes and working conditions. Then the company's values, such as "courage and risk-taking" or "team play", were simulated using interactive virtual reality apps. As an example, employees in a virtual reality app had to overcome a suspension bridge and their fear of heights, or solve puzzles in a virtual "escape room" together

As a supplier of chemical products, BASF was challenged by the fact that most of its employees were not familiar with the full usages of its many products. As an example, they did not know how certain chemicals worked and where they were used, from the automotive industry to mechanical engineering. However, the fact that the material could be presented live in virtual reality on a 3D model of a vehicle made the product truly tangible for all employees and created a positive link between their own work and the company's products.

Another customer in the transportation industry created a completely new product, whose technology and functionality was completely unknown to employees, customers and investors. Virtual reality made the product available to employees and investors years before the product launch, which strengthened employee loyalty to the company and helped attract investors and customers. As a special communication aspect, virtual reality cardboard glasses were issued at press conferences, so that journalists could experience the new product live as soon as it was announced. Thus, the first virtual press conference was created.

Internal and external However, it is not only companies that can benefit from virtual reality technology. For example, ZREALITY carried out a cultural project, Digitale Kunsthalle (Digital Art Hall), with ZDF, one of the largest television broadcasting groups in Germany. In the Digital Art Hall, exhibitions from various museums that cannot be actively shown are brought to life in a completely virtually constructed museum, and dusty works of art or paintings are finally made accessible to the public once again. The museum now attracts more than 10,000 visitors per month and is available to everyone at The feedback is extraordinarily positive, as it makes art accessible and real for everyone from home.

 Virtual reality also creates emotional experiences for citizens. We recently lent our support to Urban Timetravel, part of Digital Devotion Group, in developing the world's first time travel in virtual reality. There, visitors to the city of Luxembourg can put on virtual reality glasses, climb on a tour bus and drive through the city while seeing it as it was in the past - in the year 1886, to be exact. "The emotional reactions are fantastic," says Johannes Berdin, chief executive officer of Urban Timetravel. Citizens of the city of Luxembourg experience their home city in a completely new way. Furthermore, the city of Luxembourg is positioning itself communicatively as an innovative tech location".

 Whether communicating to current employees, prospective customers or financial investors, virtual reality has the power to create a living, emotional dimension to the most abstract or business-focussed message. So step into a new world of rich possibilities and consider applying VR tech to your next communications campaign.

Virtual emotions: the following core aspects create emotional experiences in virtual reality.

  • Storytelling: tell a story: Donning a virtual reality headset is like being invited to participate in a movie. The world reacts to the user and offers unexpected possibilities for interaction.
  • The power of movement: One of the reasons for choosing virtual or augmented reality content to convey your message is that it gives movement to a narrative. Just as visuals can give text new levels of meaning, movement brings new depth to visualisation.
  • Live your dream: Of course, a video can also easily convey movement, but what makes virtual reality different is immersion.
  • The user can actually feel as if he or she is part of the narrative, wherever they are located. This can lead to greater empathy than with other media.
  • Processing complex information: both virtual and augmented reality can help communicate complex data in a more understandable, engaging, and memorable way.


Michael Neidhöfer

Michael Neidhöfer is a serial entrepreneur in cross reality, artificial intelligence and mobile: he is chief executive officer of ZREALITY, founding partner of DDG – Digital Devotion Group, founder and formerly chief executive officer of mobile application platform Netbiscuits.