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Coachella helps festival-goers prep for the desert with VR

Tour the festival grounds and watch performances from previous years.

Billy Steele , @wmsteele
03.09.16 in AV
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VR has become a key marketing tool, especially when it comes to big events. When Coachella attendees receive this year's Welcome Box containing the requisite wristbands and more, a special edition Google Cardboard headset will be in the package, too. The festival teamed up with Vantage.tv on a Coachella VR app that's available for viewing on Google's virtual reality accessory and the Samsung Gear VR. Inside the app, there's plenty of 360-degree photos from previous years alongside interviews and performances from artists that'll hit the stage at this year's soiree.

Perhaps most importantly, the application also offers a virtual tour of the festival grounds so folks making the trek to the desert can get familiarize themselves with the locations of the restrooms ahead of time. With the library of performances, you can get to know unfamiliar artists without having to hunt all over YouTube or Spotify to listen to them. As you might expect, new content will be added to the iOS, Android and Gear VR apps on the regular in the lead up to the event.

While this app is meant for attendees, anyone can take a look at the virtual goods through the apps. And those of us who are staying home will be able to livestream Coachella performances, of course. We can expect to hear those details as we get closer to the festival in April. There's no word on if those streams will offer VR or 360-degree video just yet, but Vantage.tv can handle VR livestreams. We'll be curious to see if that is indeed in the works.

Coachella says that it hopes to boost the pre-festival experience the same way it made livestreams a part of at-home viewing. A number of the other big name music festivals, like Bonaroo and Lolapalooza, also stream live performances so that folks who can't attend. Perhaps we'll see similar events employ VR ahead of the festivities as well. Ultra Music Festival offered 360-degree views of the 2015 event via YouVisit, so Coachella isn't the first to make use of the tech for a more immersive viewing experience.

By employing a Google Cardboard headset to drive the content, Coachella joins a number of companies and organization using VR as a marketing tool. Last week, the US Soccer Federation used 360-degree video and the cardboard viewers to reveal its redesigned crest. Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters last year, Disney released virtual reality content to further build the hype for the film. There were even Star Wars-themed Google Cardboard headsets to complete the look. Not only is the platform a boon in gaming and entertainment, but it looks like marketing departments are champing at the bit to use VR in campaigns as well.

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