(Photo by Julie Zeglen)
We’re currently in the early stages of the social adoption of augmented and virtual realities.
But for “every successive technology, the adoption period is about five years” — which means prices and barriers to entry will drop over time, Greater Philadelphia Virtual and Augmented Reality Group’s (GPVAR) Clayton McNeil told us earlier this month.
While AR/VR technologies can seem inaccessible (and out of the price range) of many smaller nonprofits, there are ways to get in on these trends now before they’re widely used.
Visit Philadelphia’s Kristina Jenkins and Drexel University’s Nick Jushchyshyn and Mashaal Syed visited the first Tech in the Commons bootcamp organized by Generocity and supported by the Knight Foundation to share how they’ve used AR/VR tech and how likeminded organizations can, too.
Why you’d want to use AR/VR
Place-based nonprofits can use augmented and virtual reality to show off the best features of their physical surroundings, thus increasing engagement on their web platforms — and, hopefully, increasing visitors to the space itself.
That’s exactly what Visit Philly did when it launched its 360-degree virtual platform earlier this year. The platform gives potential visitors an immersive view of a city’s best features, including landmarks such as the Art Museum steps and Elfreth’s Alley. (True, by some definitions 360-degree photo and video is different than virtual reality, which some purists say have to be designed.)
In the three months since it’s been live, website visitors who engage with the tool have almost tripled their time on the site, from an average of 2.2 minutes to 6.2 minutes, according to Jenkins, Visit Philly’s digital content director.
“Each web visit is an opportunity for Visit Philadelphia to achieve its mission,” she said. Namely:
From our Partners
- Improve that person’s impression of Philadelphia
- Increase their desire to visit
- Get them to do more things while they’re here
How to think strategically + the tools available now
Jushchyshyn, the program director for animation and visual effects at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, has seen virtual reality applied to projects ranging in topic from dinosaurs to Hollywood fashion.
Each of the teams behind those projects started by asking themselves: What’s unseen about this work, and what could lend itself to an immersive experience for those on the outside?
- If it cost almost nothing to bring anyone, from anywhere in the world, to see your nonprofit at work, what would you show them?
- If you could have a multilingual tour guide standing 24/7 at every place in the world your nonprofit has made an impact, what would that guide have to say?
— Generocity (@Generocity) April 28, 2017
As explained by Syed, a Drexel senior who’s developing a virtual reality surgical training simulator, there are a handful of AR/VR tech tools that are currently available at reasonable prices, including:
- Ricoh Theta — A handheld, 360-degree camera that records images and video and is capable of live streaming; $300
- WebVR — An open standard that makes it possible to experience AR/VR in your browser via computer or smartphone; free
From our Partners
Testing a new Generocity
6 things we know about you
Nonprofit AF: It’s time for nonprofits and foundations to implement vaccine mandates
Be the leader to bring a 26-year mission into the future in Chester County
If you want to create the ultimate 2021 nonprofit playlist, you have to ask your community
New grant programs infuse Philadelphia’s nonprofit and arts sectors with $6 million
Reflect back, reimagine forward: How Ben Franklin Technology Partners is investing in regional impact
Village of the Arts seeks to deepen and scale its impact as it reflects on its legacy
Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity