How locked-down adventurers are climbing Mount Everest, and dancing at Kiss concerts, all from the comfort of their couch
Tech and tourism companies are allowing locked-down explorers to see the world from home during the coronavirus
What do people do in lockdown when they have finished their favorite Netflix
Well some, thanks to advances in technology, climb Mount Everest, visit the Faeroe Islands, or dance along to a Kiss concert — social distancing rules intact.
Through the use of augmented and virtual reality, stuck-at-home travel enthusiasts can experience the world through visor-like goggles, or even just a computer screen.
With usually almost three times more yearly visitors than its population, Faeroe Islands tourism director Guðrið Højgaard said residents now had a little too much time on their hands. Governments around the world have banned travel and imposed stay-at-home orders, meaning millions are living in lockdown.
But those with smartphones can now control virtual tour-guides in the Islands from their living rooms, using an on-screen videogame-like set up.
“When you press forward, we move forward. When you press left, we turn left. And, when you press jump, well, we jump,” she said in a video promoting the scheme.
The technology is being used to give locked-down travelers experiences all around the world.
Travelers can choose from a hair-raising experience of climbing Mount Everest, an app-led viewing of the Mona Lisa and, through Virtually Visiting, a virtual travel company, Arctic experiences like 360-degree tours of Sweden’s famous ice hotel or the opportunity to meet a moose in ultrahigh definition.
If guided tours aren’t exciting enough, virtual reality concert provider MelodyVR is offering lifelike experiences of concerts by Tyga, T-Pain, and Lewis Capaldi, all from home. MelodyVR was founded in 2015 but has seen sales revenue increase by 121% and smartphone installs increase by 840% since the coronavirus outbreak began.
“As music fans look for other ways to experience live music during quarantine, we have seen a significant increase in the amount of people using our app and experiencing our catalog of immersive concerts,” said founder and Chief Executive Anthony Matchett.
Previously, the market of people who could afford the equipment required, as well as the time and interest to attend a concert from home, was small, said James Calvert, chief data officer at M&C Saatchi.
Coronavirus has created the audience and Calvert thinks it could give other virtual and augmented reality technologies the boost they need.
“[The growth] was already happening,” he said, “but I think it will just happen a bit quicker.”
But Karim Lakhani, professor of business administration and founder of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard, told MarketWatch that even more people should be using this time to offer their customers new experiences.
“All these theme parks, for example, right, they’re dead, dead, dead at the moment, what could they be doing now to drive experiences for their customers?” he said.
It is a huge opportunity for companies that are on hold because of coronavirus to give people imaginative ways to do the things they normally would, but the question is, will they do it?
“It’s not rocket science, you know?” he said.
The coronavirus has squeezed 20 years’ adaptation to virtualization into just two weeks and, looking forward, he said the tools will only become more widely available.