Life has changed beyond recognition in the space of just a few weeks as the world rises to the challenge of coronavirus.
While the pace of change has been unsettling for some, the changed environment also creates an array of opportunities to introduce new ways of working.
Virtual reality is now coming into its own as a way for cultural venues to create new income streams, and for customers to experience those venues from the safety of their own homes.
Since the coronavirus pandemic erupted into the world at the start of 2020 a vast percentage of the human population has been put into lockdown – including 1.3 billion in India.
Whole populations are being told by governments to stay indoors; fined for mixing in groups of more than two people; and encouraged to only make essential trips into work, for food, and to limit their recreation.
Informed by the science of how viruses spread, governments have moved with lightning speed to take unprecedented action to slow down the spread of the virus and to save lives.
Using data, scientists and politicians have slammed the brakes on the economy in a bid to control the number of human interactions.
Shaking hands has been banned and people are obliged to stay two metres from their loved ones. The mental consequences of this enforced isolation could be profound.
It is a paradigm shift of a scale not seen before in business.
Whole industries have been brought to a standstill.
Restaurants, pubs, cafes, much of the retail industry closed.
Schools and colleges, and much of the operation of government. Museums, airports, shopping centres, travel hubs are all affected.
In the same way that a meteorite led to the extinction of the dinosaurs and to the rise of the mammals, coronavirus will see some businesses fall, and others rise.
Virtual reality can help certain businesses survive, and we think especially large indoor cultural venues, as they look for new ways to attract visitors.
The impact of these immense changes in the way we work, how we travel and the way we feel about interacting with each other is yet to be fully appreciated.
Will people feel more nervous about travelling, and meeting up with one another other, once the pandemic has been brought under control?
It is likely that, combined with what be a devastating impact on the airline industry, a percentage of people will not want to travel.
Finding ways to connect with a market that wants to experience culture, but does not want to travel, is an ideal setting for virtual reality.
A VR platform or headset can be on the other side of the world from a museum, an art gallery or a sports venue.
Green shoots are emerging even now.
Just as tiny mammals lived among the dinosaurs, new ways of working are being developed to take the place of the paradigm that has been undermined by the response to the pandemic.
Musicians and other entertainers have turned to online platforms such as StageIT, business networking and other means of networking have switched to online, with Zoom seeing its use increase hugely in the space of a few weeks.
Education classes have been set up online to help parents home school their kids. It could be argued that the coronavirus pandemic has served to speed up a quiet evolution that was already taking place. In news journalism, print products have been suspended during the crisis.
Venue managers and operators will have to be wary of not assuming that the same ground rules will apply after the threat of this pandemic has passed.
In Briteyellow’s world, we see virtual reality and augmented reality as being of massive potential.
That will, we imagine, be true whether or not our former social norms return.
Large cultural venues, such as museums, art galleries, sports stadia can be digitally mapped to create their cyber twins.
Once mapped, digitized twins can utilise mixed virtual and augmented reality to create an as-if-you-are-there experience, wherever you are in the world.
Venue users and operators can then, for example, use the technology to walk around museum exhibits, to see inside the soccer trophy cabinet, and to stand in awe at a masterpiece work of art, or an exceptional piece of architecture.
Even if the world returns to something like we know it now, the technology can be used as a marketing tool to attract people to see the real thing.
But as technology improves, and experiences can be enhanced further, perhaps people will become happier to visit in a virtual world than they are to travel around the world to pay a visit.
Some of the world’s top museums and galleries already use virtual reality to a limited extent, more to help familiarise people with layouts.
The pandemic could mean that they are in the vanguard of change. We can also see virtual reality wayfinding and navigation becoming essential for the survival of such places.
Platforms in virtual reality can also help venue operators to understand what is inside their places, how they operate and how effectively their assets are deployed.
The data provided by groups of people navigating around in virtual reality can help managers to decide on the optimal placing of those key exhibits.
That will help both the online and offline experience of customers.
We believe the world is on the cusp of a huge shift in the use of virtual and augmented reality.
What do you think?
To find out more about Briteyellow's high resolution virtual tours and how they can give your visitors an immersive experience of your venues before they've even left home. https://www.briteyellow.com/virtual-tour
Now contact Briteyellow here: https://www.briteyellow.com/contact