Virtual Reality and Virgin Atlantic's Imersive digital adventure

In Richard Branson's book Loosing My Virginity he talks about how he wanted to create the best airline for business travelers and how he originally planned for Virgin Atlantic to be an all-business class airline. This later turned out not to be economical so the idea was scrapped, but this idea is what led to so many of Virgin Atlantic's game-changing features. It inspired the team to create Premium Economy, a class with more affordability that first, but with some premium touches. No other airline had ever created a cabin line this before, but it is now something common on almost every long-haul airline. Virgin Atlantic introduced the upper class suite, the first airline seat to transform into a fully flat bed, with duvet, bed sheet and pillow included. They introduced seat back entertainment for every passenger, an onboard bar, massages and more to create the ultimate inflight experience. 

Virgin Atlantics upper class still offers an incredible service with glamorous clubhouses, a drive-thru check in at Heathrow, private security channels and the worlds most modern fleet of beautifully designed aircrafts. To entice business clients at trade shows and events, the marketing team partnered with Microsoft to create Ida, the Immersive Digital Adventure.

IDA is a VR (virtual reality) experience that combines a VR headset with audio, haptic feedback and aromatherapy to create a fully immersive experience. After you put on the VR goggles you are transported into Virgin Atlantics Upper Class wing and are guided through the experience of an upper class guest. You get to experience the clubhouse, the onboard bar and the upper class seat. During the experience you are wearing a Microsoft Band which vibrates to guide you through. Crew hold bottles of carefully selected scents under your nose, so while you are immersed in the VR goggles, you can magically smell what you are seeing, as if you are really there. Watch a video of IDA below.

IDA lets you explore the onboard experience 

IDA lets you explore the onboard experience 

Microsoft and Virgin Atlantic have fully embraced this emerging technology in a way that generates a truly unique experience for clients. It allows people to get a sense for the traveler experience and a really fun way. Virtual reality, although has been around for a while, is now really starting to make an impact outside of the technology industry. There are a lot of questions about weather virtual reality will be successful or not on a consumer level as it requires specialist equipment and custom apps.

I'm think virtual-reality will definitely have more of an impact on a business level as it will allow for companies to showcase experiences as Virgin Atlantic have done so well with IDA. Over time more and more uses for virtual reality will emerge spanning all industries from health to retail, but it still remains very gimmicky due to the accessibility of the technology, and the fact that most people don't want to isolate themselves from a situation to enjoy a particular experience.

Video from Microsoft: In collaboration with Microsoft, Virgin Atlantic has created 'Ida', an Immersive Digital Adventure built as a Windows 10 universal app, featuring specially created content that takes the viewer through a virtual Upper Class journey.

Augmented Reality (AR) - as opposed to virtual reality is definitely having a larger impact on the consumer level as everyone has access to this technology with a smart phone. AR is definitely more accessible and this has led to developers creating a huge range of uses for it however the challenge is now getting users to engage with in their everyday lives. At the moment it requires people to open a specific app or download a certain game, where as an effortless experience would allow AR to really become mainstream. Snapchat filters have taken full advantage of AR with their magic filters that can change your face or put flowers in your hair. Part of the reason why this has been successful is because Snapchats users are regularly opening the app on a daily basis. 

AR and VR are both interesting areas to watch, as they are becoming more and more used by a wider range of companies to do more and more tasks. Virgin Atlantic have demonstrated that with the right set-up, VR can be an incredibly powerful tool for a experience driven business.

As part of my Graphic design communication course, we got to choose a completely separate topic that we would explore for a few weeks. I choose a topic called The Smart City where we explored the technology and innovations that help create modern day and future cities. This post was written specifically for this project.