Implementing Virtual Reality into Product Design: My Product Pitch

Disclaimer: The following post was created for a school assignment. I have no affiliation with the Nike brand.

Virtual and augmented reality is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. Athletic brands should adopt this technology and begin research on its use for their current products.

The Nike Fuel “GoBand VR” system will take its users to whole new level of fitness…

Nike “Fuel Go-ggles” (included with every Nike Fuel GoBand VR) creates an augmented reality environment when worn by pairing a virtual fitness coach with their real world. Users will take a short health survey that includes basic questions about lifestyle, age, goals, etc. and will be given three virtual trainers to choose from (based on survey results). From there, the Fuel GoBand will track daily movement to further shape the user’s fitness plan.

Through the user’s settings, the virtual trainer’s coaching style can be adjusted from a friendly trainer to a military-style coach. Even when not wearing the Go-ggles, the user’s trainer can “buzz” them via the Fuel GoBand (worn on the wrist) when they detect a particularly sedentary time period in the user’s day. Like the previous FuelBand SE, the band still detects all types of movement and tracks calories burned, steps, challenges with friends and more.

However, the addition of the Go-ggles is what takes it to the next level. In addition to projecting an augmented reality of fitness through the Go-ggles, the lens will be UV-protected to act as a pair of sunglasses if working outdoors.

Using real-world equipment (treadmills, bicycles, jump rope, etc.) the virtual trainer will create a fitness routine that will, if a heart rate monitor is worn and synced with the Fuel GoBand, achieve target heart rates and push the user to burn a pre-set number of calories. Virtual trainers will even give pep talks and reminders to hydrate throughout the workout.

Users can earn a certain number of points per workout, and have the ability to become the “Workout Warrior” of each fitness routine when they reach mastery level and time. At the conclusion of each workout, a summary will appear with the option to share the user’s workout statistics on Facebook or Twitter. Additionally, users can check their status at anytime on their FuelBand app to see points and where they rank among friends, in their local area or world-wide.

The Nike Fuel GoBand VR system will open up opportunities to further change the future of fitness. Users now have the ability to challenge friends across the country to a virtual race or can choose to go for a bike ride in alternate landscapes across the world.

Virtual Reality: Potentially Creepy or Just Plain Cool?

“Potential for Creepiness”…

I found it funny that this statement was used in a Mashable article, but I agree – there is much potential for creepiness if Facebook were to successfully turn moment-sharing into experience-sharing through virtual reality…all while noting our every move. However, we don’t appear to have anything to worry about for a while as long as the cost remains so high.

Small and mid-sized companies can let larger corporations take the costly reins in spearheading the ad industry’s presence in virtual reality until costs are to a point where consumers can experience VR in their own home. “Everyone who does something [in VR] now, for the next five years, is going to be inventing something.” (Aaron Clinger) Larger companies are more likely able to afford the high costs of VR right now, in turn for being coined as one of the first to adapt their marketing to “create high levels of user motivations and info that is instantly actionable.” (Wierzbicki & Margolf)

Mark Zuckerberg’s recent purchase of Oculus could essentially allow Facebook to become the next Google AdWords. The use of social media profile information gathered from VR users will provide marketers with a closer look into the demographics and recent interests of their audience, with the ability to personalize the message to the user.

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Topshop, Coke, and Nissan, to name a few, have all created the ultimate user experience by allowing their customers an opportunity to see something they would not normally have the chance to see. Topshop’s customers were able to “sit” next to A-listers and experience Topshop’s London Fashion Week at Turbine Hall, while Coke allowed customers the chance to experience what it would be like to stand on the playing field at the World Cup. In these instances, the “potential for creepiness” in VR is suddenly replaced with the potential for excitement and positive associations with the brand.

Brand-sponsored opportunities like these solidify the statement that “…experiencing is believing.” But, believing in what? The sponsoring brand, or the experience they provide? In their case, hopefully both.