Walking across the cell membrane, ducking instinctively as a ligand zooms by, it finally clicks—so that’s how a mutated growth receptor accelerates cancer. This isn’t a dream, and I’m not in the movie Innerspace—this is today’s cutting edge virtual reality experience.

VR was big in 2015, and for geeks like me, it was all we wanted to talk about. After seeing what’s in store for 2016, I think we may have just entered the “Year of Virtual Reality.” Three highlights you need to know:

1. Three major VR headsets released in 2016: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. These are fully immersive experiences with high-quality visuals and audio.
2. VR goes mobile: Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard use a smartphone as the “guts” to give you an on-the-go VR experience. Not fully immersive, but memorable and portable.
3. Google Cardboard breaks a million: In November, the NYT sent out more than one million Google Cardboards to their readers. While it doesn’t provide a fully immersive experience like Rift, it’s cheap and is the first experience most people have had with VR.

Initially the darling of the gaming industry, VR is finding its way into the operating room as well. Dr. Redmond Burke, a prominent cardiovascular surgeon, was recently able to save a four-month old girl by transforming MRI scans of her chest into a 3D view on Google Cardboard. This breakthrough technology helps surgeons to fully visualize the entire procedure before they step into the operating room.

Create Buzz Around Your Brand

Gaming and medical procedure visualizations are great uses for VR, but you may be thinking: How can VR actually benefit my brand? When you use cutting edge technology like VR to communicate brand messages, the message become a memorable experience. One that your customers will remember long after they experienced it. One that they will discuss with their colleagues and friends. By consistently delivering innovation, the brand image is akin to innovation.

Pharmaceutical conventions have traditionally been great places for brands to utilize the latest technologies and get truly creative. Brands like Genentech have perfected the art of “convention choreography” and dazzled their attendants with unforgettable experiences that included the use of color-coded cubes for quiz shows and multi-touch spherical displays. Pfizer has used touch-tables to rotate and dive deep into the human body as well as holographic displays to explore novel devices for rare diseases. Virtual reality is the new platform for convention creativity.

The VR options available to you in 2016 include:

  • Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR (stationary): Use for big conventions. Fully immersive MOA or MOD experiences that combine all manners of learning: Auditory, visual and kinetic.
  • Google Cardboard (disposable): Use for direct mail, small events, and rep-delivered materials. Good for 3D visualizations and 360-degree video.
  • Samsung Gear VR (mobile): Too limited for marketing use at this point.

It’s easy and effective to use virtual reality in your marketing efforts. Contact your agency partners if they have that capability or reach out to a specialty company like Reel FX or Confideo Labs. Now is the time to bring a new world to your audience and create an experience they’ll remember for a lifetime.


  • Ben Putman

    Ben Putman is General Manager, Biotech at JUICE Pharma Worldwide. Ben is an expert in the conception and advancement of breakthrough strategic plans through digital innovation. Ben promotes creative and original approaches to gain uncontested access to target audiences.


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