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Virtual reality at the Shard : Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Jon and I visited The Shard in London, took the lift to the top and tried out a VR experience – The Slide.

Sit down on a slide which carries you outside the Shard, up and down and back to the start with a surprise on the way. It’s not the first VR or extreme slide, there’s been one for Top Shop in London and there’s even the worlds tallest real glass slide in LA. but it’s the first motion controlled I’ve seen. Like any extreme VR experience peoples reactions varied from sitting quietly to screaming in fear. But what about the brand experience?

VR brand experiences can be difficult to get right, and I’ve seen a which seem to miss the mark, as well as some which nail it.

So for example the Jaguar Wimbledon VR experience was technically clever (using the amazing Epic Unreal 3D engine) and creative but I feel it failed to deliver a strong brand presence. VR has some unique abilities to help get people closer to a brand experience. It could be that Wimbledon imposed massive restrictions but some creative thinking can usually find a way.

Moving platform

To experience the slide, you sat on a moving seat rig that’s timed with the animation. There were a couple of times where this was hugely successful, giving the feeling of motion.

VR Slide around The ShardDepth of 3D models

The models of the building surrounding the Shard where 3D. Rather than just a photos they had depth and parallax as you passed them. Very nice.

Varied pace

You didn’t just travel at one speed. The slide slowed down and sped up giving a sense of adventure.

Brand moments

Most of the time, the Shard wasn’t insight. Adding more ‘Shard moments would help the brand experience.
For example flying back through the Shard being surrounded by tourists taking photos of you. The tube could have passed through the middle of the shard as you passed through an office.. After all, that’s what most of the Shard it taken up with.

Not so enclosed

The tube felt very enclosed. We would open it up so it was mostly glass and use markers and joints to give a sense of distance and travel, or hash lines that get closer and further apart, similar to road surfaces. As you moved along you had to crane your neck to look outside at times and often couldn’t see any ground. Opening up the tube would also give a greater sense of adventure.

Sound

Although there was music playing throughout,  I would be keen to add additional sounds. So a sound of rushing air and even gaps in the music to add a sense of anticipation.

Timing

The moving platform didn’t feel perfectly synced and made me feel a bit motion sick. I’ve experienced a lot of VR and it’s the first time in a while since I felt like this.

Brand work is at the heart of our work at The Team, Jon and I both had similar comments. Where was the brand? The slide took you around The Shard but was not integral to the experience. I could have been outside any building.

By giving the experience stronger brand presence it could live online past the event. So not being at the top of the Shard when you sat on the ride wouldn’t matter.

I am glad we went to this pop up event. Would I pay £10 for the experience? If you’ve not tried VR before and want to do something extreme for the first time (not for everyone), then yes.

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