A recent LinkedIn question from Jodi Schiller from New Reality Arts was asking why the market is only looking internally and what were our thoughts on collective actions for driving adoption of the immersive technology market. So I decided to do a bit of a braindump and share it with Jodi and here on the Den of Blog;
Sponsored demo roadshows: It has been a long proven principal that VR can’t be explained, it has to be experienced. Consumers need to actually get their hands on the kit and, crucially, have a properly managed demo to get to experience VR with the best possible outcome. The same holds true for enterprises considering investing in VR for marketing purposes or other applications. If the first experience you receive is a disappointing “Faux VR” experience such as 360 video, or a glitchy application, then they will not be convinced, and will write it off as not market-ready.
Market seeding: Hardware manufacturers are helping developers with provision of equipment (either subsidized or free), but how about seeding some major brands with the same ? The idea would be to get it in front of consumers to drive demand, and additionally lower the barrier to entry for enterprises wanting to trial the technology. This could be in the form of a major household brand partnering with a major VR brand, or using public spaces (or spaces with captive audiences like an airport) to offer an amazing experience. Extending that idea further, how about a 10 or 15 minute “fear of flying” experience in major airports around the world, sponsored by Vive, Samsung or Oculus, and one or more major airlines ?
Next generation hardware: This is currently focussing on faster, better, more. Higher resolution, lower lag, wider FOV, but it really needs to take into account the cost-of-entry. As we all know, the $500+ HMD, and the $800+ PC for a “proper” roomscale VR solution is solidly in the “luxury” and “early adopter” class of consumer. Without consumer adoption, enterprise adoption becomes hard.
Consumer support: think about it, deal with it, do it right, don't nickel and dime it. There is a huge expectation with consumers that this expensive equipment needs to work, and work well. When it doesn’t work properly it leads to frustration, and in the case of VR potentially physical problems such as VR sickness. Given the multi-component complexity of most solutions, the consumer may not even know who to talk to. To compound this, if the Enterprise is considering this technology, it need to work, as close to flawlessly as possible, especially with applications designed to aid professionals in their daily tasks. Consider an architect using this in a pitch to a multi-million-dollar prospect, and the HMD fails to work. Backing up the solutions with a customer experience strategy is an absolute must.
Education seeding: get it into schools with education and entertainment in mind. The idea here is to target the next generation of earners, and make it second nature as a useful tool for life, not just a gimmick. This should be as ubiquitous as the mouse was at the point of introduction.
High Quality Experiences: One look at Steam and you will see that there are many, many experiences being created now. A number of them are early access, sub-par, buggy embarrassments that should never be demo’d – especially with people sensitive to VR sickness. Build a list of interesting, impressive, easy-to-access, easy-to-understand examples of VR and use that library to show off it’s capability.
Clearer demarcation, but be careful: We all too often explain why Pokemon is not AR, and why 360 video is not VR, and why it’s XR not MR, why all these phrases are wrong and it’s Immersive Reality and how everyone needs to get it right or go home. As an intellectual noodling exercise, this is probably worthwhile, but as far as consumers are concerned – “I stick a headset on and I’m in Virtual Reality”. Whilst it is important to help consumers understand that linear 360 video is not necessarily a great example of the technology (try something interactive), we shouldn’t expend all of our energy trying to tell them what to call it.
Fix Locomotion: There are many companies working on the locomotion problem. I am using this in the broadest context – both in-experience locomotion, but also the sheer size requirements for roomscale experiences. Most consumers do not have the luxury of a large space that can be dedicated to these technologies. There are some hardware companies working on treadmill equivalents, but these add even more to the cost. In-experience locomotion is one of the culprits that can tip people over the edge to VR sickness, and there are many versions of how to resolve this, but no real standards.
Lose the Wires, Lose the Lag: Mobile VR has the advantage that you are not tethered to a PC, but it’s a sub-par experience compared to PC (and Mac) based power-house solutions. Tethered solutions have the problem of dangling cables which at best break you out of the experience, and at worst have you stumbling for balance. There are third party wireless solutions about to hit the market, but again these add $250+ to the already high price.
Financials: Many of the companies driving the technology, story-driven content and applications are startups, or early-stage businesses that are not necessarily swimming in cash. Everybody is trying to swim upstream and a lot of these initiatives require large investments. However the market is showing huge investment potential and activity. Perhaps some of the funds that are placing their bets on these markets should be considering not only the requirement to invest in the technologies, but the requirement to ensure that the market is kickstarted appropriately.
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