InStyle, Jaunt VR target fashion audience with virtual reality cover

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As makers of virtual reality content get ready to enter the mass market next year, one company is hoping to appeal to a broader audience outside of the tech set by harnessing fashion magazine InStyle’s young female demographic.

Jaunt VR, which creates 360-degree virtual reality experiences, teamed up with Time Inc's TIME.N InStyle to film its November issue cover shoot with actress Drew Barrymore. The short film experience will be available to the magazine's subscribers and smartphone users on Thursday.

InStyle’s audience is “not the normal expected crowd people would think for VR,” Scott Broock, Jaunt VR’s vice president of content, told Reuters.

“People always think it’s for male (video) gamers, but it’s important, not just for us but for virtual reality as a whole, that people understand it’s for everybody.”

Virtual reality is on the verge of mass market consumption as Facebook Inc-owned FB.O Oculus readies its Rift headset for consumers in early 2016.

Facebook also recently launched 360-degree videos, allowing viewers to scroll around a video on a computer or smartphone, an early gateway into an interactive video experience. InStyle will upload a modified 360-degree video of the Barrymore shoot on Facebook and YouTube.

Silicon Valley-based Jaunt VR, which last month raised $65 million in its latest round of funding from companies including Walt Disney Co, has also worked with Elle magazine and fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff.

This is the first time a U.S. magazine has created a virtual reality cover with a celebrity, InStyle said. In the film, Barrymore is seen posing for photographs and addressing the viewer in time-lapse.

It can be viewed through Jaunt VR’s smartphone app for free using an inexpensive headset such as Google Inc’s Cardboard viewer. InStyle will send out branded cardboard headsets to select subscribers and also offer 1,000 headsets online.

“You could have a VR experience with a phone and an inexpensive piece of equipment, and suddenly the technology becomes so much more democratic,” said Angela Matusik, executive editor of digital at InStyle.

Editing by Paul Tait