Storytelling has been a fundamental aspect of human communication since the dawn of civilization. It’s how we connect with one another – not just in the here and now, but through generations.
Today, with the advent of technology, storytelling is taking a new form: spatial storytelling. This technique uses 3D imaging as an essential part of the narrative, creating immersive experiences that captivate audiences like never before.
Wondering how this new tech could apply in the retail space and beyond? Let’s take a closer look at this revolutionary development.
The Power of Spatial Storytelling
Spatial storytelling goes beyond traditional narratives by incorporating physical or digital environments into stories. It involves using visual elements and interactions within a particular space to deliver messages or evoke emotions effectively.
The result? An immersive experience that significantly influences customer engagement and consumer behavior. In fact, research suggests that immersive experiences can amplify purchase intent considerably.
The Technological Catalyst
3D modelling has become a particularly powerful way to reveal the hidden depths of products and their origins.
Introduced in the ‘60s by Ivan Sutherland, the creator of Sketchpad, 3D modelling is a graphical representation of an object or environment in three dimensions.
Using the latest advancements in computer graphics software and hardware, brands can now create realistic images and videos that give customers a unique experience – one that they will remember and connect with on unprecedented levels.
Once requiring vast resources, creating immersive environments is now within the grasp of many, thanks to intuitive applications like Avaatar's Creator.
Emerging Technologies: 3D and AR
Before moving ahead, it's important to define – and differentiate between – a few different technologies at play in the realm of spatial storytelling.
3D visualizations are static models that can be used to showcase products or spaces, while Augmented Reality (AR) is an advanced technology allowing for interactive 3D experiences.
Unlike 3D visuals, AR overlays digital objects onto the viewer’s physical environment in real-time. This allows companies to create more personalized and engaging experiences for their customers – whether it’s virtually trying on clothes or exploring a product before they buy it.
Virtual reality differs again. This technology is similar to AR in that it overlays digital objects onto a physical space, but it takes the experience one step further by immersing users in an entirely virtual environment.
Applications in the Retail Industry
As mentioned, spatial storytelling can be a powerful contributor to the way consumers feel about purchasing products. It gives brands the ability to transport potential customers into immersive experiences. Let’s take a look.
Revealing New Product Dimensions
A relatively new application of spatial storytelling in the retail space is 3D product imagery. While the concept itself isn’t new, the photorealism of 3D models now far exceeds what was once possible.
Rolex is a leading brand in the 3D visualization space; a scroll through any of its product pages reveals product imagery of incredible quality, with each watch component receiving a close-up view as it moves across the screen. Cosmograph Daytona is an excellent example.
You may be wondering – how exactly do these high-definition videos overtake regular commercials in terms of audience engagement?
The appeal of interactive 3D videos, particularly for online shopping, is that customers are able to see details they might otherwise have missed out on. They can admire the intricate designs and see how the pieces fit together, connecting with the product on a new level.
Pairing Visual and Textual Storytelling
Apple is renowned for its innovation and product launches. One only has to look at its latest product – the Vision Pro – to see how well the company adopts and perfects new advances in technology.
With the device’s spatial video features, Apple wants users to feel as though they are actually visiting a moment in time – not just viewing a flat screen. But it isn’t just Apple’s products that have begun to incorporate 3D features.
Like Rolex, Apple has adopted spatial storytelling in its online advertising. A visit to the Apple website reveals specialized pages for each product; as you scroll down the page, 3D product visualizations reveal different aspects of the product.
This page for the latest Apple Watch 9 includes a highly detailed moving model – not just of the watch itself, but also of a human hand interacting with the watch via simple finger movements.
With text descriptions woven seamlessly between each 3D visual, a combination of imagery and text gives customers an in-depth tour of the product, creating a comprehensive narrative that informs and entertains.
3D Visualization and Product Showcases
The use of 3D technology lends itself perfectly to a product showcase environment. Brands can take their audiences on digital journeys expertly designed to draw users in.
Even the museums and art galleries are embracing 3D videos to enhance spatial storytelling and provide visitors with a richer context for the displayed artworks. Through immersive 3D videos, they can transport viewers into historical settings, offering a deeper understanding of the art's cultural and historical significance. These visual narratives create an engaging and educational experience, making the exhibits more accessible and captivating for a diverse audience. This innovative approach redefines the traditional museum experience, offering a new dimension of appreciation for art and history.
For instance, the Louvre Museum in Paris has harnessed the power of 3D videos for spatial storytelling. Visitors can explore the historical context of the Mona Lisa through a 3D video that takes them back to Renaissance-era Florence, showcasing the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci. This immersive experience not only enhances the appreciation of the masterpiece but also offers a captivating journey through art history, making it a prime example of how art galleries are utilizing 3D videos to enrich the visitor experience.
Enhancing User Experience (UX) and Branding
For thousands upon thousands of years, stories have compelled us to attach meaning to otherwise mundane objects. When we can connect with an object – or a product – on a more personal level, it creates a powerful emotional bond that extends far beyond the transaction itself.
This is why incorporating spatial storytelling into retail and other industries can be so effective. It gives customers access to immersive experiences that make them feel connected to products in ways they never could before.
It also provides brands with the opportunity to tell stories about their company’s history, mission or values – stories which have the potential to build long-lasting relationships between consumers and companies.
A brand like GoPro is a prime example of this. Since the brand's conception, its story has been one of outdoor adventures, brave expeditions, and daring feats. Now, the company is conveying this message through in-depth 3D visualizations of its cameras paired with HD footage of its products in action.
Beyond Retail: Cross-Industry Applications
Retail advertising is an obvious application for 3D modeling and spatial storytelling, but the technology is far from limited to promoting products.
There are plenty of industries in which interactive 3D models can be used to create immersive experiences.
One such example is architecture, where 3D models of buildings and interiors can be presented to customers in order to give them a realistic sense of how the space will look.
Real estate agents have long used interactive floor plans for this purpose, but with 3D modeling, they are now able to present far more detailed visualizations that include everything from furniture placement to lighting fixtures.
Furniture stores can add 3D visualizations to their apps or websites in order to give customers a more realistic sense of what their furniture purchases might look like.
Coca-Cola updated its iconic polar bear mascot with 3D animation, adding realism and charm to its holiday campaigns. This shift modernized the brand's marketing efforts and engaged a wider, digitally-savvy audience.This transition to 3D animation not only rejuvenated a beloved mascot but also helped Coca-Cola stay relevant and capture the attention of a younger and more digitally connected audience, demonstrating the power of 3D and 3D videos in modern marketing efforts for globally recognized brands.
It's crucial to note, however, that there is a difference between spatial storytelling and basic 3D modeling. The former requires a deep understanding of the customers’ needs and desires in order to create an engaging, interactive experience; it conveys more than just the physical aspects of a product or space, bringing to life a story that resonates with customers.
The Future of Spatial Storytelling
Spatial storytelling has already demonstrated its power in captivating audiences and enhancing customer engagement in retail and beyond. However, its future holds even greater promise as technology continues to advance.
One potential evolution lies in the convergence of various immersive technologies. The integration of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) into spatial storytelling experiences is likely to become more seamless. This convergence will enable storytellers to create hybrid narratives that blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds, offering users experiences that are truly immersive and interactive.
Furthermore, as AI and machine learning algorithms become more sophisticated, spatial storytelling could become highly personalized. These algorithms can analyze user data and preferences to tailor narratives to individual tastes, increasing engagement and emotional resonance.
Spatial storytelling is on the cusp of a revolution driven by technological advancements and innovation. Its potential to transform how we communicate, learn, and engage with the world around us is boundless, and as these technologies continue to evolve, spatial storytelling will undoubtedly play a central role in shaping the way we tell and experience stories in the future.