Serious Insights Business VR Weekly
February 15, 2016
Daniel W. Rasmus
Serious Insights, Principal Analyst
The VRification of YouTube
One of the first things that will happen in VR has, well, already happened, and that is the VRification of YouTube. There are a mix of professional and amateur videos on the service, many of them poorly edited and delivered from inferior cameras. The problem with the proliferation of VR videos is that, for many people that will be their first VR experience, and it may well not be a good one. At CES this year, every “cardboard” headset, and a few others, was delivering VR video with cuts, edits and angles that didn’t do justice to the immersive experience VR can deliver, and they often were cut so badly that even as a VR veteran, my stomach got woozy. One very bad Chinese headset not only offered bad video, but it was just this side of offensive with scantily glad women appearing as near monoliths from the viewers perspective — and the frame rate was so low — and this was a “tethered” VR solution, not a mobile one, that I had to take it off within second of placing it on my head.
While Oculus, Steam and others are certainly preparing markets for VR content, many of the apps are unproven, as are the marketplaces, so video will be the first and most prevalent VR experience. People need to have expectation set that this is not what VR can be, although now that it has become a prevalent feature, it is likely to remain a primary VR use case. Every new camera creates new streams of content. VR is likely to create more video, perhaps in terms of time and size, in a shorter period of time than any image capture technology in history (note that Getty Images is already getting into 360-degree videos).
Hollywood is all over new narrative experiences for VR. If they get it right, some of this early work will fade into the background, relegated like many home movies and videos to the occasional nostalgic encounter. The next big challenge will not be how to serve it or curate it, but how to craft VR video into something more meaningful than random immersive moments.
I think we may well find ourselves with VR creating the first artifacts in a museum of the future that unshackles cultural exploration from actual physical spaces, not just virtualizing them, but transforming them with a wide range of features that will be delivered remotely via VR and on-site with AR. How meta will it be to record a visit to a museum on an AR headset and have the on-site interactions, as well as remote community commentary and insight, ultimately shared inside the VR recording of the AR experience?
Here are a few of this week’s interesting business related stories about VR and AR with a side of Serious Insights commentary.
Serious Insights Commentary: As noted above, VR videos are coming, and they are coming in droves. Wevr may be an early challenger to YouTube, but it won’t be the last. Early investments in the VRification of YouTube however are likely to stave off the competition, relegating most platforms to the also rans that still nip at YouTubes more traditional video offerings.
Investor’s Business Daily
Serious Insights Commentary: 30M VR app downloads to over 5M Cardboards is a good start, Oculus leader Luckey doesn’t see buying or downloading as a key metric. He will only be happy with a thriving ecosystem that people return to because they find value, which will make money for developers, and for him. Good to see his priorities are straight — the metric is ultimately a good one as long has his bonuses are tied to real metrics not gamed ones. Hopefully that will drive Oculus to produce and encourage software development that brings real value to life and work.
New York Times
Serious Insights Commentary: Real Estate is a no brainer for VR. Read the opening of the article though, because the poor experience is indicative of the kind of early experiences that will make people reluctant to try VR a second time.
Serious Insights Commentary: Early popular culture depictions will help shape perceptions about VR. Halcyon appears more sophisticated than many early takes on emerging technology. With SyFy’s investment in well produced original scripted projects, Halcyon may have a change of being more than a novelty.
Serious Insights Commentary: “Not only will the company with the leading OS influence the hardware you’ll purchase to experience VR and AR content, but it will also determine who’ll own your mental real estate. That is, the memories you’ll record in VR, the experiences you’ll have, not to mention your social interactions.” That’s the next big market, not VR headsets — data based on the intimate knowledge that can be derived from VR experiences. The race is far from over for both hardware and software. Think of Rift and Vive Pre as Apple IIs. We are just getting started. Not only can’t we imagine all that is possible, we have no idea what people will figure out they can do with the data that comes from these systems, or how they will shape social norms and the work experience.
Serious Insights Commentary: First of all, this is a thought leadership video from Maersk, not from a VR vendor, which is a very good proof point about value. Maersk Oil’s Culzean project, which could provide 5% of the UK’s gas needs, is employing virtual reality as part of their critical engineering design reviews.
“It’s an intelligent way of looking at the design through different eyes. It means we can avoid future complications and ensure we are building safety into the design of the project, using best environmental practice and best available technology.” — Claus Vissing-Jørgensen, Facilities Manager for the Culzean gas project.
Serious Insights Commentary: Makes a great point that VR is great for visualization and planning, while AR is required in execution to ensure that “teams in the field understand how various systems and components fit together during production.”
Mobile Commerce Press
Serious Insights Commentary: University of South Australia has created a prototype for AR contact lenses. As someone who has resisted contact lenses, and who has seen members of my family struggle with them from loss of lenses to eye problems, I remain skeptical about this technology, but as with most Science Fiction ideas extrapolated in plausible ways, it appears inevitable that we will have wearable, augmented contact lenses. I find assertions that they will become a universal interface dubious though.
Field Service Digital
Serious Insights Commentary: As technology becomes more sophisticated, VR will likely become the go to technology for getting people up-to-speed in a very realistic way. The transition from simulation to reality will be minimal, in fact, given the capabilities of VR people being trained may well face much more difficult situation in the VR environment than they ever face in the real world, which may well lead to more positive worker engagement because real work is less stressful than what they imagined. I am reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, which describes horrific training schedules and simulations leading to the insertion of the spacecraft into Mars orbit. Nasa will likely be taking a very similar approach on the ground, and VR will be available to bring the same level of simulation into space.
Probably the most exciting and innovative application is using virtual reality for training. The airline industry has been doing it for years with the flight simulators, and modern technology allows for a similar type of training on industrial equipment for service personnel or customer staff. With the ever-increasing pressure of higher equipment efficiencies and uptime, access to physical equipment for training becomes more and more limited. — Sasha Ilyukhin, Tetra Pak
Serious Insights Commentary: I had the opportunity last week to visit NASA Ames and see their Pleiades supercomputer and explore the Spheres project. The NASA outreach to the public has been great over the last several years, and it was an honor to be ask to join other online journalist and commentators for their #NASASocial. The next phase of this thinking seeks to allow people to explore Mars from the comfort of VR and AR experiences. JPL’s Jeff Norris calls them telenauts. This is a great example of how the two technologies can create new levels of engagement with environments that are dangerous, and in this case, inhospitable. As has been done with data analysis in various cosmology situations, such as the NASA star cluster identification effort driven by Hubble Space Telescope images, NASA can provide a platform for citizens to explore other worlds and contribute directly to science. The equipment already on Mars hints at a future where data can be relayed for people to analyze, perhaps at a minute level, including various features of the Mars landscape. Interesting areas could be voted on and rovers sent for further investigation. That same work is conducted now at JPL, but imagine how much more connected people would be to their tax dollars at work if they could participate more directly.