The Reality of Philadelphia

Virtual and augmented reality are two emerging technologies that have shown huge potential in recent years. As shaping a memorable brand experience becomes more important than ever, AR and VR are two key players when it comes to making your brand stand out from the crowd. However, as these technologies are still relatively new, it can be hard to get your hands on an AR or VR experience and see what the hype is all about.

Itching to alter your reality? Look no further — here are five places you can try it for yourself, right here in Philadelphia.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) refers to augmenting the world around you with digital elements, usually as viewed through a screen. Fortunately, this is a pretty accessible technology. We’ve all probably used one of the more widespread forms of AR — Snapchat filters! The examples below combine mobile apps with real-world locations to create an unforgettable experience.

Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny

Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny is an augmented reality mural by Mural Arts Philadelphia. See it yourself at the intersection of 53rd & Media Street in West Philadelphia. The mural is gorgeous on its own, but with the help of a free app (MuralArtsAR on Apple’s App Store) to experience the mural on a whole other level with dynamic holograms and even a soundtrack.

Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion

The Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion’s free AR app, Philly Insects AR, lets you experience AR on two different levels: mural mode and photo mode. Stop by the Insectarium to see their AR mural come to life as the app animates the insects featured on the wall! Or use photo mode to take a picture with a larger-than-life monarch butterfly.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) takes this technology a step further, with an immersive experience that actually convinces your brain that you are in a completely different environment. This requires the user to wear a special VR headset in order to get the full experience.

Mad Rex Restaurant and Virtual Reality Lounge

Mad Rex Restaurant and Virtual Reality Lounge is the first restaurant in Philadelphia to fully incorporate VR into their concept and design. It has a post-apocalyptic, survivor theme — so if you order a steak, be prepared to cook it yourself. Diners can experience VR any time before, during, or after the meal. And they’ll even give you an IV bag to drink from if you want to enjoy a cocktail during your escape from reality.

The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute is one of the oldest science museums in the country, but they still stay on the cutting edge of science and technology with VR. There are multiple science-themed VR experiences at the museum — see what it was like to be an Apollo 11 astronaut, tour the solar system, go inside the human body, and more. And you don’t have to go to the museum to experience VR — get their free app and use it anywhere with a VR headset.

Philadelphia Virtual Tour

Last but certainly not least, you can experience a virtual tour of Philadelphia! Whether you’re planning a visit soon, or you live in Philly but just don’t feel like getting out of bed, this tour will take you to all of Philly’s most iconic locations. Download the free Visit Philly app to experience the City of Brotherly Love in 360-degree splendor. You don’t even need a VR headset to view the tour — just watch it on your laptop or smartphone. But it’s much more immersive and exciting in full virtual reality.

Augmented and virtual reality provide new and exciting ways to shape a customer’s experience — whether it’s informative (Philadelphia Virtual Tour and the Philadelphia Insectarium), entertaining (Mad Rex), or just art for art’s sake (Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny). Several brands have already begun using augmented and virtual reality in their marketing, and as the technology becomes more accessible, we can’t wait to see how brands will continue to use AR and VR to push the limits of the consumer experience.