A decade ago marked the advent of immersive multi-user virtual worlds, where people could share experiences in a complex constructed virtual space. That’s still a complex technology to pull off, both in the creation of these virtual realities and engaging people with an experience that was both rich and simple.

While progress continues on multi-user virtual spaces, technology has been developed to create personally accessible virtual experiences.

US552663-0This isn’t new, by the way: The “Stereopticon Advertising Device” received a patent for their commercial 3D viewing machine in 1896. View-Master viewers were used in the 1960s with stereo reels to promote everything from cars to soft drinks to airplanes to poultry equipment.reel

And now, everything old is new again; the vintage meets the vanguard.

Although high-end equipment like Facebook’s Oculus Rift viewer has the uber-geeks among us strapping on and stepping in to virtual spaces, Google simplified things with the Google Cardboard viewing device. Google Cardboard allows people to use their smartphones as 3D displays that can let you look around and explore virtual spaces using the phone’s built in gyroscope. Now a $10 cardboard box can be used along with your phone to quickly get you into a wide array of worlds.

Brands were not long to follow. Not only can the virtual experience be programmed as an interactive graphical app, but the cardboard viewers themselves are primed for custom branding as leave-behind items. They’re being used to promote everything from cars to soft drinks… you get the idea.

Enter AP42 and PG&E. 2016 has been billed “The Year of the LED” by California’s largest public utility, with a concerted campaign to get businesses to switch from inefficient incandescent lighting to new, long lasting, and highly efficient LED lighting. PG&E offers programs including cash-back rebates for making the switch.
Getting and keeping the attention of busy businesspeople has always been a challenge, and keeping energy savings (along with savings to the bottom line) top of mind requires some innovative communication.

With the PG&E LED VR app, customers can now virtually enter a variety of spaces where LED solutions are highlighted, along with benefits and savings available. By creating an open-ended immersive experience, AP42 and PG&E keep the customers engaged, but also provide longer-lasting impressions of the virtual space, as though they were actually there.

Best viewed in full 3D, PG&E offers its business customers the AP42-designed, PG&E-branded Cardboard viewing device, with the call to “Come inside and see the light.” In addition to the app, the experience is also available as a web-based interactive virtual tour at

You can find the PG&E LED VR app at the Apple App store and the Google Play store, and if you don’t have a Cardboard viewer, don’t worry! Even View-Master is back in the act with their Cardboard-compatible View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack. Or you could just take a box, poke a couple holes in it…