The Only Source of Knowledge

Many years ago, decades ago actually, I had my first VR experience. I was strapped into a VR rig called an Eyephone (really) created by VPL Research for NASA. It transported me to a room filled with primitive shapes and stereoscopic sounds. As limited as the graphics in that Eyephone were, my brain believed I was elsewhere. I was transported, and I was hooked. I emerged from that experience fully convinced that the future belonged to VR. It took a while, but it seems like that future may be arriving at last.

Last week, Barkley hosted Framestore for a Virtual Reality Day. It was a day of presentations and demos designed to complement and amplify the “What is Here?” exhibit that Moonshot launched last month. That exhibit and VR Day have all been organized around a simple, foundational premise–the primacy and necessity of experience.

As one Barkley partner put it, “you read about VR all the time, but I never really got it until today.” Bingo. Or, as Albert Einstein said,

“The only source of knowledge is experience.”

Albert Einstein

For the last few years, we’ve all been inundated with stories and case study videos of VR and AR campaigns. Those of us who work in creative tech jobs have spent time inside these alternative realities, but many of our colleagues haven’t. So Moonshot decided to give our Barkley partners a chance to immerse themselves in virtual and augmented realities.

For the last four weeks, we’ve been inviting Barkley partners to experience the new realities that will shape not only our advertising futures, but the future facets of many aspects of our lives. They’ve had the chance to try out and try on devices like Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, Microsoft HoloLens and the HTC Vive. And they’ve sampled curated experiences, including some that have challenged not only their sense of presence but also their fears!

I’ve argued the primacy of experience before, but when it comes to VR, AR, MR and all the variant Rs, there is no substitute. You simply can’t fully fathom the potential, the emotional impact, the transportive power or the potential for motion sickness without first-person experience and immersion.

Moving beyond our VR Day, we’re entering into the VR Era. There are now hundreds of millions of VR headsets in the hands and on the heads of consumers. More and more people are having their own first immersion experiences.

I’m excited for this new era and for this new medium. I’m excited to explore the new experiences that we will create, and to finally have the chance to act on that epiphany I had many years ago, in that tiny, virtual room, with my head inside that primitive NASA Eyephone and my hand inside that Dataglove.

And, I’m excited to post this GIF of Barkley President, Dan Fromm, who had his own first-person VR experience last week.

Mark: What are you doing? Dan: Kicking Ass.