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Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies are being adopted by innovative brands as ways for consumers to interact with their products.

You might have seen Adidas’s Virtual Reality (VR) campaign last year that allowed people to follow the mountain-climbing journey of two extreme athletes or heard about Topshop’s app that allowed anyone with VR goggles to 'attend' their fashion show at London Fashion Week. Coca-Cola created a VR sleigh ride last Christmas while Volvo let you test drive their cars from the comfort of your couch. As for Augmented Reality, who could forget Nintendo’s Pokemon Go app that sent more than 65 million people around the world hunting for Pokemon in their neighbourhood? IKEA also uses AR so customers can see how any of their items would look in their own houses.

Marketing experts have for years predicted that VR and AR will be gamechangers and that by 2020, up to 82 million VR headsets will be sold. There are many global superbrands innovating with these technologies, but here in South Africa there are brilliant examples too.

Mensa

Earlier this year, Mensa became the first South African wine to incorporate AR into its wine labels. With the Mensa Wine App (available on iOS and Android) downloaded, you can simply scan the label of your bottle of wine and watch it come to life as a book, telling the story of ‘everywoman’ featured on the label.

South African Reserve Bank

By now the special bank notes launched to commemorate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday would definitely have passed through your hands, but have you looked at them through your phone? That may sound strange, but did you know that the banknotes can be scanned in augmented reality to reveal design, security and technical features? The South African Reserve Bank app uses AR to educate the public on how to spot counterfeit banknotes. But that’s not all. It also reveals Nelson Mandela’s story, taking you on a journey from his humble beginnings in the Eastern Cape to when he was inaugurated as the president of South Africa. And there’s a game! You play a cashier who’s been paid in cash by a customer. It’s up to you to make sure their notes are acceptable. See how the app works here. The app was developed by Sea Monster, the agency that also gave us the app for Pick n Pay’s Super Animals and Stikeez AR apps.

Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID)

Soapbox Films, in collaboration with the CCID and the Homestead Projects for Street Children, used VR to raise awareness about the challenges facing street children. Soapbox produced a 360-degree video free of charge as a means to raise funds and awareness. The video is narrated by a 17-year-old boy who reveals how he ended up on the streets and how the Homestead assisted him. It gives viewers a first-hand experience of what street children go through on a daily basis.

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