Ben hurries into his home office and is surprised to see Clare already sitting in the seat next to him. Clare looks him in the eye, and can sense that Ben's nervous.
Ben points his hand at the visual display and shows Clare that he's only behind on the project because he's making it radically better - creating something amazing.
Clare feels her stress levels drop and nods in approval, and notices Ben's eyes dilate, the tiny furrows on his brow soften, and the glisten of stress induced moisture on his skin start to fade. "I'll tell the folks here in Japan," she says, and then - poof, just like that, she was gone. Vanished.
Ben is not on acid. This scenario is not from a Sci-Fi movie. This technology is more or less available right now. Kevin Kelly, founder editor of Wired Magazine, has tested the latest Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality for his latest book "The Inevitable" - and his findings will stop you in your tracks.
I want to be clear - the time horizon for this is the VERY NEAR FUTURE, maybe 2-5 years. The technology is already working, the firms developing it are backed with significant funds (about 3/4 billion USD from Google has been poured into Magic Leap). The scenario painted above is just one tiny sliver of what happens when you add a digital layer onto your personal experience of reality.
So, what happens when the world's information isn't just there for you to read - but to feel? And what happens to your business?
Here are some starter questions I think marketers need to put into the back of their minds and start cogitating...
- How will your customers experience your brand when they can immerse themselves in it?
- How will your events look when you can create any environment, anywhere in the world, for them to experience it in?
- What happens to your technology and equipment when the need for a physical screen is redundant, a phone irrelevant?
- What happens to advertising mediums when you can present a new layer of what ever you want to, onto everything, everywhere, all the time?
If you think I'm making this up, or you don't need to start thinking about this, let me assure you that many companies, some of them probably your competitors, are already wrestling with this challenge.
Everything we know is about to get turned on its head.
At the moment, the internet is the internet of information. With virtual reality and AI, what we’re going to get is an era of experiences, where we can not just know something, but feel it.