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VR drives business growth

Dentsu sees virtual reality (VR) as ushering in a communication revolution. In this installment, we look at Dentsu VR Plus, an initiative launched in November 2016, as well as various examples of how VR has been applied in projects in which Dentsu is involved.

VR Theater offers the world's first in-store VR service

Using real places, VR content to change the concept of a theater through the enhancement of content production

Anime, pop music, and other forms of Japanese culture being promoted to the world under the banner of “Cool Japan” offer a potential treasure trove for the application of VR. VR content is widely available at stores throughout Japan, providing easy access to the experience of total immersion in a virtual world.
VR Theater launched in April 2016 as the world's first in-store VR service. It offers customers access to the full visual and auditory experience of VR using special equipment set up at internet cafés and stores nationwide. Customers can rent head mounted displays and experience VR content in the store.
Currently, 18 titles covering various genres are available, including Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell and Gantz: O. While two or three new titles are to be released each month, content is also being developed for overseas markets.

VR drives business growth

"GHOST IN THE SHELL: THE MOVIE—VIRTUAL REALITY DIVER"
©Shirow Masamune, Production I.G/Kodansha / "GHOST IN THE SHELL: THE MOVIE" Committee. All Rights Reserved.

VR drives business growth

Dentsu provided VR content for Momoiro Clover Z Toujinsai, a concert held in the summer of 2015 by the pop group Momoiro Clover Z at the Ogasayama Nature and Sports Park's Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka Prefecture. Now available through VR Theater, this title enables the user to experience the concert with a 360-degree view of the performers on the stage of the huge stadium that was packed with more than 45,000 spectators. The 2016 installment of the concert was also released in Blu-ray Disc and DVD formats in February 2017. Stay tuned for more Momoiro Clover Z VR content. (The photo above is a scene from the VR version of the 2016 concert.)



Shinjiro Yokoyama

Director
Publishing Business Development Division
Dentsu Inc.

Supplying quality, computer-generated 3D environments and increasing the number of places where they can be experienced is an effective way to monetize VR content. With the launch of the VR Theater service, places we visit as part of our daily lives—including shopping malls, hotels and tourist facilities—will soon become venues for experiencing VR. I believe that a variety of content will be developed that will be not only for entertainment, but also for music at karaoke facilities, art at galleries, and relaxation at beauty salons.
By skillfully linking content to venues, we can use VR to breathe new life into any industry. Since we want consumers to become more familiar with VR, we are simultaneously developing content and expanding the network of venues where it is available, with the goal of supplying 2,000 VR units to 1,000 stores by September this year.

Regional revival: content gives 24/7 access to local treasures

An October 2016 Dentsu survey of VR users shows that the VR content respondents wanted most to experience was sightseeing locations. According to a 2016 Dentsu survey on the Japan brand, the interests of tourists in areas of Japan that are popular with travelers from overseas have been shifting from sightseeing to experiencing the attractions of such areas, including hot springs, cherry blossoms, local food and festivals.
Virtual reality allows people to experience—at a time of their choosing—local attractions that it would not otherwise be possible for them to do without visiting. VR thus has the potential to play a role in Japan's regional revitalization in Japan by inspiring people to visit. Regional television stations, especially, are very well positioned in this regard, since they are not only highly familiar with their respective regions, but also have expertise in producing and distributing programs.
Hokkaido Broadcasting Company, for example, entered the VR business relatively early, in 2015. It released a VR app featuring popular events in the region, including the Sapporo Snow Festival. Similarly, all branches of Television Nishinippon Corporation are promoting the use of VR, while its branches in the Kyushu region have initiated tie-ups covering a wide area.

VR drives business growth

VR drives business growth

The children in the photo are experiencing a virtual zoo at their preschool in Kodaira, a city in western Tokyo. The zoo is actually Asahiyama Zoo in the city of Asahiyama, Hokkaido, and its director, Mr. Gen Bando, who has experienced the VR content, remarked that, “It really seems as though you are at Asahiyama Zoo. I would be delighted were users to feel that they are in the company of the distinctive animals we have at the zoo, and get excited about their lively behavior and the looks on their faces.”

VR drives business growth

VR content has been created for the Nagaoka Festival's fireworks display, which has been called the world's most beautiful pyrotechnics. Owing to the wide-angle view, which is one of the distinct advantages of VR, the content reproduces the immense scale and closeness of the fireworks along with the intensity of their sounds, making the participant feel as if they were at the event. Beginning in February, it will be possible to experience VR content at locations nationwide via the VR Theater service.



Ryo Araki

Business Creation Center
Dentsu Inc.

Virtual reality is like the Doraemon cartoon's Anywhere Door, which can transport users to any location they wish. In collaboration with the Asahiyama Zoo and Hokkaido Broadcasting Company, we created VR content and designed a virtual version of the zoo for children who want to go there, but are unable to for various reasons. Indeed, it is not always economically or physically possible for kids to visit the zoo.
We had children try out the content at preschools and various other facilities. At the childhood disease ward of Asahikawa Medical University, in particular, the children were overjoyed to be able to experience the zoo. When that was featured in a TV program, it really touched a lot of people.
We have also produced content for other attractions in Japan, including Kumamoto Castle, the Marine Pier Matsushima Aquarium (which was old and thus closed in 2015) and the grand fireworks display of the Nagaoka Festival which, in memory of an air raid-related conflagration in World War II, is held to offer prayers for peace.

We are producing very strong content by integrating stories and context. Around the world, there is growing interest in how the highly experiential and empathetic aspects of virtual reality can be utilized to bring about positive changes in society. In the future, we want to promote the treasures of Japan with content holders and media companies, including TV stations and newspapers nationwide, as those attractions can now be visited virtually anytime and anywhere through VR, just like Doraemon's Anywhere Door. We hope to work with companies on projects that communicate great stories to people all over the world.

VR drives business growth

Dentsu VR Plus launched

Working with media, clients to release content worldwide

Dentsu launched Dentsu VR Plus as a groupwide initiative in November 2016. The enterprise brings together specialists who have been involved in VR-related projects in various fields, and will help them carry out full-blown integrated activities going forward. By exploring ways to enhance innovations in a broad spectrum of areas through technological innovations in the field of VR, Dentsu will target all industries—not only those in which VR has already been applied, such as games, entertainment, real estate, tourism, medicine, sports and education. Dentsu VR Plus will offer VR-based advertising solutions, help develop businesses by utilizing VR, and contribute to the creation of new VR-related markets.

A completely new sports viewing experience with LiveLike

In September 2016, Dentsu Ventures Global Fund 1, Dentsu's corporate venture capital fund, invested in LiveLike Inc., a US-based company that has developed a VR platform for watching live sports.
The platform enables live VR transmission from conventional video broadcasting equipment already set up at stadiums. Users can watch the game from a virtual VIP suite, via a live transmission app developed using LiveLike's streaming technology. Users can also see player stats and view the action from various angles in the stadium.
In December 2016, the venture fund invested in Survios, Inc., a VR entertainment content developer, also based in the United States.

VR drives business growth

One of the most popular VR games in 2016

Raw Data, a multi-player VR action game developed by US-based Survios, Inc., was one of the world's most popular VR games in 2016. After being made available on the HTC Vive section of the online store, Steam, Raw Data became the first VR game in the world to reach sales of $1 million in a single month.
Last year, Survios announced that it was procuring funds from various sources, including Dentsu's venture fund and Hollywood movie company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in order to further diversifying its VR content lineup.

VR drives business growth

VR used for real estate interior-viewing service

VR has been utilized for an interactive system that allows real estate agents to show the interiors of properties during discussions with customers. Real estate agency staff can show interior spaces in real time to prospective customers using a tablet computer, as well as control movement through buildings and rooms. Since that can be done remotely, customers located overseas, for example, can be guided through properties in Japan.
Generally, customers are shown properties an average of eight times before they decide on one, but with this system, the average number of times has been reduced to just two. Moreover, the system makes it easy to show properties that have a valuation exceeding a prospective customer's budget. This allows unit prices to be raised.

VR drives business growth

Special contents developed for events and attractions

Dentsu has developed special VR content for attractions at the Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory, which opened in April at the Sunshine 60 building in Tokyo. The attractions include Tokyo Bullet Flight, which gives users the experience of being transported into the future, to famous places in Tokyo by means of a human canon; and Swing Coaster, by which users can virtually ride a suspended roller coaster high above the surrounding Ikebukuro district.
In addition, in October 2016, Dentsu set up the 360° VR Dome at the Tokyo Motor Show. Users were offered the chance to have an all-new test-drive experience with 360-degree visibility, made possible through the use of VR. With three different types of vehicles available—cars, motorcycles, and buses—the VR attraction proved to be very popular among visitors.

VR drives business growth

VR drives business growth

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