One of the big show stoppers at E3 was Microsoftâ€™s roll out of Kinect, featuring a natural user interface and motion sensing capabilities. With Playstationâ€™s Move, Sonyâ€™s motion sensing addition to the PlayStation and the preexisting Nintendoâ€™s Wii, thereâ€™s now greater emphasis on simulated environments. And along with these simulated environments, or virtual realities, comes virtual objects.
How will brands introduce their real world products into these rich virtual worlds? Computer-aided design (CAD) suddenly becomes much more important. CAD is typically known for the design of tools and machinery and for drafting and design in architecture. But now CAD and other 3D software solutions play an important role as brands begin to populate these virtual worlds with virtual objects based on real life products.
Zyngaâ€™s Farmville allows players to develop a virtual farm. Players work to grow their farm by working with their neighbors and posting their achievements to their Facebook profiles. With more friends comes more land, more gifts being exchanged, more products being created to help players farm. Based on these types of virtual goods, and many other within the social game ecosystem, the sale of virtual goods in social games is expected to more than quadruple to $2.1 billion in 2012 from an estimated $336 million in 2009. A few brand engagements have already made noise, including the Israeli candy company, Elite, with their sale of peanuts to highlight their Elite Taami Nutz bar. Or Green Giant, whose real life products unlock in-game points. While Farmville is a 2D experience, it points toward a brand-rich future available in multiple dimensions, as showcased at E3. And as 3D becomes more widely used and brands increase their presence in virtual worlds, it becomes more important for them to accurately represent their products. Efficient 3D modeling might have been a footnote, but it will become a very important part of the future brand marketing toolkit.
Augmented reality is another area where brands will need to create virtual versions of their products. AR can add elements such as graphics, sounds and haptic feedback to your field of view, layering on additional information to whatever you are looking at. Brands are beginning to leverage AR for marketing opportunities (e.g., Doritosâ€™ Sweet Chili campaign in Brazilâ€“ the packaging unlocks a 3D game you can interact with through your Web camera) Â – Â but also for deeper immersion into product information and detail. Brands will be creating virtual versions of their products to play in this spaceâ€¦especially in retail environments where trying on clothes, accessories etc. can be done through a â€œmagic mirror.â€ (see Fittingboxâ€™s RayBan Virtual Mirror)
As we all begin to evaluate what collateral and assets we need to navigate the ever changing digital landscape, keeping in mind the need to have a virtual presence during other phases of product and production design will allow for low fuss entry into these many virtual opportunities.