At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each week, we’ll be bringing you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.
Welcome to our latest Experience Radar, where we’re earning experience points in League of Legends, partying like its 1929 at Gatsby’s mansion in Nice, and discovering whether the Loch Ness Monster is real.
1. Apple Unveils Vision Pro Headset
Apple set the tech world alight when it finally unveiled its plans for a mixed-reality headset at its annual software conference. As reported by the BBC, the hotly anticipated augmented reality device, called the Apple Vision Pro, is Apple’s first major hardware launch for almost a decade. According to CEO Tim Cook, the headset, which has a two-hour battery life, “seamlessly blends the real world and the virtual world”. Priced at $3,499 (£2,849) and due to be released early next year in the US, the Apple Vision Pro costs considerably more than VR headsets currently on the market, such as the Meta Quest 3.
The gadget superimposes virtual objects in the world around users, enabling them to mix reality with VR by looking through a screen. The headset, which is controlled by your hands, eyes and voice, allows users to “see, hear and interact with digital content just like it’s in your physical space”, Cook said. Users can access apps, watch movies, and write documents in a virtual world. Rather than being geared around immersive gaming, Apple Vision Pro is centred on being part of a user’s everyday life by enhancing the way they experience videos and photos. The high price point, however, is likely to deter mainstream consumers.
2. VR Is Helping To Tackle Racism
A game called 1,000 Cut Journey, now available to download for free on the Meta Quest platform, aims to help users understand the emotional and physical toll of racism. The immersive VR experience was designed by a team at Columbia University School of Social Work in collaboration with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. The initiative is a visceral tool to spur awareness about racism and help people to see how it pervades many aspects of life. “Nothing like this really exists, and it’s important that we make it as accessible as possible,” said Courtney D. Cogburn, associate professor at Columbia’s School of Social Work. The goal is for people to better grasp the psychological harms of systemic racism and open up to conversations about how to oppose it.
The protagonist in 1,000 Cut Journey experiences racism at each stage of his life, from school and university to when he’s applying for a job. “It’s an intense experience,” Cogburn said. “While some people are a little reflective, others are crying in their headsets.” She has used the game in anti-racism training at law firms, medical schools and universities. Its power lies in its ability to make users feel like they’re walking in someone else’s shoes, allowing them to feel more empathy for the people represented by the avatar, and question their understanding of racism. The game is targeted at white liberals sympathetic to the idea that racism is abhorrent but unaware of its systemic nature.
3. Coke’s New Flavour Is Inspired By A Game
Forget cherry or lime, if in-game experience points had a flavour, what would they taste like? You’d think victory would taste sweet, but, according to Coca-Cola, success is sugar-free. As reported by Polygon, Coke has hooked up with Riot Games to create a new flavour designed to evoke the taste of winning an experience point – which players earn by completing tasks within role-playing games – in League of Legends. Housed in a snazzy black and gold can, the release of Coca-Cola Ultimate Zero Sugar is part of a wider collaboration with Riot Games, which includes digital experiences to promote the new flavour.
While the recipe is being kept under wraps to add an air of mystery and encourage experimentation, League of Legends players can log in and complete in-game missions, such as winning a game in under 20 minutes, to earn emotes. Coca-Cola Ultimate has gone on sale in the US, Canada, China, South Korea, Latin America, and Africa. Eric Krause, global head of marketing for League of Legends, said the innovation was “the crown jewel of our ongoing and evolving partnership”. This isn’t Coke’s first foray into wacky releases. It has also launched limited editions inspired by space, dreams and pixels.
4. Designers Are Letting Nature Run Riot
Acute awareness of the plight of the planet is inspiring designers and storytellers to imagine a world in which nature has been let loose to run riot. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, this growing trend for untamed design among experience designers, architects and storytellers reflects a growing acknowledgement of the need to work in harmony with nature, and a deeper respect for its power. With sustainability now rooted in people’s values, creators are choosing to visually articulate this concept within the customer experience.
“Our human-centric position is toxic and we can’t sustain that in the current crisis with nature,” Marcel van Brakel, founder of Dutch experience design collective Polymorf, told WT. Among his latest works is Symbiosis, a multisensory extended reality experience that imagines a future in which man, nature and machine combine in new ways to live in harmony. Elsewhere, Rolls-Royce collaborated with couture designer Iris van Herpen on a nature-inspired bespoke Phantom Syntopia, while Shanghai-based studio Spacemen is incorporating overgrown nature into retail interiors, popping a giant tree-like structure covered in moss into Braun Büffel’s flagship outlet in Malaysia.
5. Enter The Mind Of Salvador Dalí
The creator of melting clocks and lobster telephones; Salvador Dalí’s mind was a playground for surreal ideas. If you’re curious to delve deeper into the inner workings of the Spanish artist, then head to Boiler House on London’s Brick Lane, where a cutting-edge exhibition aims to lift the lid on his life. Called Dali: Cybernetics, the show harnesses the power of VR and blurs the lines between the physical and digital while paying homage to Dali’s forward-thinking approach to art. His works are given the 360-degree digital treatment, making use of 3D glasses, floor-to-ceiling projections and music to bring them to life.
The exhibition includes a 15-minute metaverse experience where you can don a VR headset, step into Dali’s world and interact with the artworks in real time. Elements from some of Dali’s most iconic works, such as The Ants, The Persistence of Memory and The Elephants, are within touching distance in a variety of settings, taking you from the desert and the ocean to outer space. The show also gives visitors the chance to get creative by taking part in an interactive art display, while leaning about Dalí’s life and influences during his career. After its London run the show will travel to 30 cities around Europe.
6. Nessie Gets The Immersive Treatment
If you’re keen to find out whether there’s any truth behind the Loch Ness Monster then head to the Scottish Highlands and see for yourself. As reported by Sky, a Loch Ness-inspired immersive experience has opened on the site of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, where manageress Aldie Mackay reported spotting Nessie 90 years ago, sparking a long-lasting global fascination. Following a £1.5m revamp by Continuum Attractions, at the Loch Ness Centre visitors can explore one of Scotland’s most famous legends. Lasting an hour, the experience includes a walk through 500 million years of history to explore the myths and hear scientific research surrounding the legendary beast.
Visitors can pore over hundreds of eyewitness accounts and recorded sightings, alongside unexplained evidence and artefacts. Nessie fans can also climb aboard research vessel Deepscan, where Captain Alistair Matheson, the skipper for the Loch Ness Project, will use sonar equipment to explore the water. “We appreciate that we are only guardians of this legend, as many Nessie enthusiasts are truly passionate about this place and its history. We wanted to involve them and the community to get it right for the locals and tourists alike. We’re passionate about finding great stories in great locations, and this really is Scotland’s best story,” said Juliana Delaney, CEO of Continuum Attractions.
7. Party Like Its 1929 At Gatsby’s Mansion In Nice
It seems sweet and fitting that a new Great Gatsby-inspired experience is coming to Nice, as the books author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, lived for a time on the French Riviera with his wife Zelda, where he wrote Tender is the Night, taking inspiration from their dwellings in Cap d’Antibes and weaving it into the novel. Those keen to party in the South of France like its 1929 can head to the five-star, Art Deco, Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée, which is hosting a series of soirées that aim to evoke the decadence of the roaring twenties.
Walking the line between immersive theatre and pure entertainment, the two-hour event, which includes complimentary cocktails, will see the hotel transformed into Jay Gatsby’s mansion. Guests can choose to be spectators or actors within the experience, and can help co-create the storyline with the novel’s protagonists alongside historical figures including French actress Mistinguett and Corsican criminal Paul Carbone. Running from 15 July until 19 August, guests can continue the experience with a roaring twenties-themed dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, where you can drink in the views of the Med.