Serious Insights Business VR Weekly
March 1, 2016
Daniel W. Rasmus
Serious Insights, Principal Analyst
What Samsung Needs to Do to Hold Its Lead
Samsung is clearly the current leader in mobile VR. Unfortunately, outside of the Oculus interface that devices boots into, much of the content and many of the apps are about one-time consumption, not on-going value. The Oculus to Android experience doesn’t integrate well. If mobile VR is going to be effective as a business tool, here are five things that Samsung and other mobile aspirants need to do:
- Adopt platform that integrates existing applications into VR. Some apps will start to arrive in “VR” versions, but they will likely be standalone versions like the Netflix viewer. VR needs an OS that allows for pure VR experiences, as well as working/interacting in VR experiences that support messaging, photography and editing of documents like spreadsheets and word processing documents (see Envelop VR for an example of this type of emerging platform).
- Offer a headset with positional tracking. VR isn’t VR until you can lean into images. The sooner this happens in mobile the more effective VR is going to become.
- Create a controller API and nurture an ecosystem of partners that allow for a wide range of controllers to fit various use niches.
- Start sharing good practice on content, and eliminate poorly rendered content from within the Samsung experience. If it isn’t good, don’t put your name on it (and that goes for any headset maker, even those based on Google Cardboard).
- Partner with business solution providers, perhaps even run a contest to get people thinking about business applications rather than entertainment applications.
Serious Insights Commentary: The premise of this post suggests that the visual aspects of VR are less important than the controllers. Author Schkolne writes that “VR for the hands, on the contrary, empowers humans like never before. If you want a magic thread to follow to find VR gold, just follow the hands.” First, the visual aspects of emerging VR platforms is far superior to 2D or 3D on 2D experiences. For an engineer, the ability to see a component from multiple angles, at scale, is an important visual addition delivered by VR. Second, their is a fundamental difference with VR images. Wordsmiths say VR worlds are richer. What makes them richer is more data. I can’t walk around a 2D object because the data on what is on the other side of the object doesn’t exist. In VR, if the scanning and/or modeling is done well, every object will be a full objects with not only all of its visual properties translated into VR, but with its physics as well, meaning it will interact with other objects in the VR world as one would expect it to in the real world (of course, in games, the physics are up for grabs). Finally, I do agree that controllers will be important and VR for the hand will be critical, but it won’t mean anything if VR for the eyes isn’t there to deliver the world to navigate through.
Wordsmiths say VR worlds are richer. What makes them richer is more data.
Serious Insights Commentary: As discussed in that last edition, 3D cameras are the next battle ground for mobile devices, phones and emerging cameras alike. GoPro may power the Google 3D cardboard camera array, but inexpensive 360° cameras are on the way, and they are going to disrupt the 2D market. More at Examiner Gazetter New flagship phones embrace virtual reality)
Serious Insights Commentary: It is important that we not introduce new biases as we attempt to eliminate old ones. Yes, studies like this demonstrate a bias when gender is attached to code acceptance, but a purely gender neutral or other “difference” environment would also mean not purposefully seeking diversity in order to create empower different perspectives.
Serious Insights Commentary: One of the futures identified by Serious Insights focuses on the reality of war and human sagas through VR in realtime and the effect that will have on the awareness, consciousness and conscience of global citizens. We are starting to see films, like The Displaced (New York Times) that bring this start reality to VR. It won’t be long until there are 24-hour feeds from refugee camps.
Serious Insights Commentary: VR is just at its beginning. This is a great article on how Lt. Brendan Geoghegan invented a VR-based navigation system training system as an entry for the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Innovation Award where he was recognized as an Innovation Scholar (Professional Military Education). The Navy is looking at how Geoghegan’s system can better train next-generation navigators.
Serious Insights Commentary: Yes, sight, sound, touch, hearing — smell and taste haven’t yet entered the VR arena yet, but smell-o-vision has been around for a long time and its certainly going to be brought out in various incarnations as VR use grows. The only real virtual reality is a complete virtual reality.
The only real virtual reality is a complete virtual reality.
Serious Insights Commentary: a very short post that may represent VR’s long-term prospects in marketing. If VR is used as a marketing gimmick, it will be a short-lived phenomenon. The best use of VR in marketing will be create experiences that provide enhanced engagement and insight. Value can’t be determined by time-in-world, but by brand loyalty. VR will be able to uniquely bring people closer to their brands by giving customers more transparency, more process awareness (how and where things are made) and access to special events that are active not passive (don’t give me a VR video of a concert from last week, bring me into a concert happening right now and let me participate — which implies one of the other missing elements to VR at the moment is the ability to reach out of VR in a simulated real world venue and affect the real world location — read robots, at least as an example.).
If VR is used as a marketing gimmick, it will be a short-lived phenomenon.
Serious Insights Commentary: You didn’t really think that Facebook bought Oculus to create a pure-play VR platform. No, VR for FB is going to be social — and it is probably going to redefine social. How people interact, and perceptually where they interact, will be important to watch. VR breaks many 2D collaboration metaphors. If Zuckerberg and company want VR to be a sticky social place, they will need to first learn from real world physical social environments with their napkin scrawls and Post-It Notes, their doors and table tops, but then think about what social looks like without the constraints of the physical world. This will be a real test of how creative a company can be that has been focused for years on maximizing revenue from one experience. If they don’t throw out what they think they know, Facebook may see challenges to their perceived innovation status as they seek to get out of the way of their own short history. VR may well prove to be THE innovation challenge for FB much as the Internet was THE innovation challenge for Microsoft.
VR may well prove to be THE innovation challenge for FB much as the Internet was THE innovation challenge for Microsoft.
Serious Insights Commentary: The short answer is no. These first tethered units from Oculus and HTC aren’t intended to be consumer units. They are early adopter units, and yes, they are expensive, but event at current price-points, not all that expensive. A 128K Mac ran $2,495 at launch, which is over $5,500 currently. These first major units are to VR as the 128K Mac was to the PC market: a device limited by its time. VR units will sell out, and the next generation will be more powerful and less expensive. VR is no longer experimental hardware, it is mass market hardware that will continue to shrink in size under the pressure of innovation. It will be meaningful software, as it always is, that limits hardware adoption once the hardware reaches a certain level of functionality for a purpose, not price.
Serious Insights Commentary: We are sure about this. VR will certainly enhance physical retail, but its going to do a lot more to bring physical retail experiences into the virtual world. Precise laser scans of our bodies, and accurate models of things like clothing and shoes is going to revolutionize fit as these models converge. Imagine putting your foot into a shoe and running a simulation of where your foot will rub on the interior of the shoe. Imagine an exact measurement of a pant waist telling you before you buy the trousers that fit only if wishful thinking is applied (which VR will also allow you to do — “please apply wishful thinking” and you can see how clothes fit after you lose the weight you are promising yourself you’re going to lose.)
VR in Medicine Sidebar
Serious Insights Commentary: VR is going to change medicine from multiple perspectives. VR is going to create an environment that provides much better patient information and sharing about procedures and ailments. VR will help people understand what is going on with their bodies, and if they need surgery or other procedures, what those experiences are going to look like, and help them visualize what the procedure is trying to accomplish. VR is also going to be a way of crafting situations that help people coop with recovery in the physical and mental arena.
Here are three articles that hint at where VR is going in medicine.
Here’s How Virtual Reality Could Help Doctors Treat Cancer, Popular Science