Serious Insights Virtual Reality Business Digest: June 14, 2016
VR & perspective
There are several articles in this week’s digest that argue the case that the real value of VR is going to come from perspective. VR will provide different perspectives on designs, products, even the human condition. VR will provide empathy through shifting perspectives. Future VR apps will provide appreciation for design choices, perhaps even personal struggles, by offering perspectives that one cannot see from a personal vantage point, be that vantage point constrained by physical location or social situation.
Perspective may well be VR’s strong end game that keeps it relevant in a world that will be increasingly saturated with augmented reality feeds. VR allows people to explore an experience in private. In VR participants freely move around—they can see things from behind and above, they can pick things up and rotate them in space, and they can change and reshape them.
Perspective may well be VR’s strong end game that keeps it relevant in a world that will be increasingly saturated with augmented reality feeds.
AR will be much more constrained because it will require at least some continuity and conformity with the real world. AR is also a much more public and social technology. Because AR will exist around others, norms and rituals, expectations and customs, etiquette and forms of politeness will evolve that govern AR’s role in society. Even if AR produces personalized streams that may be very private, those feeds will be triggered by the real world, and therefore the reaction to them will be public, putting another layer of social exposure on their use.
Inside VR, however, the participant(s) will be able to choose their social contracts to whatever degree the software allows them to. This freedom of choice in VR will likely generate significant social reflection, but regardless of what types of constraints people attempt to put on VR, individuals will find means to override them. They will find a way to bring immerse themselves in a perspective of their choosing. Even when VR acts as a social interface, it will afford small groups opportunities for shared experiences that are just for them—experiences that may well offer life changing perspectives depending on the subject.
The freedom of constraint will differentiate AR from VR, and it will be VR that offers the best opportunity for shifting perspectives while AR will likely provide more data-driven insights.
This week’s rant
“VR is almost here, again…”
It’s time for every writer to remove that phrase from their stock openings, along with other phrases like, “2016 is to be the year of VR,” and “VR is poised to be the next big thing.”
VR is here, and its time to stop opening every article with a contextual statement about the nascency of the market. Write the article like you are writing a Windows app review or other technology story. Set the context for the actual story, not the market, and get to the point. I have the same beef, BTW, with writers who start every article about physics with an explanation of the discontinuities between relativity and quantum mechanics. Anyone reading the article knows the basics, so tell us what’s new.
This week’s digest
Serious Insights Commentary: This is a very good example of how many home-based retail experiences are going to evolve. This combination of services includes redesign and rendering for home remodels and furnishings. It is easy to imagine entertainment systems concepts that not only show equipment placement, but also sound profiles. Other options would include security maps based on camera views and motion sensors, and heat maps based on register output and window leakage. VR and AR will be the integrators of the data associated with the Internet of Things, including their layout and their output. AR and VR will provide new perspectives not only on the homes we may live in, but also on the ones in which we already do.
Cine Gear: Virtual Reality Stitching Can Cost $10,000 Per Finished Minute, The Hollywood Reporter
Serious Insights Commentary: While $10K a finished minute for VR stitching seems like a large number, it may be small compared to the cost associated with modeling and rendering fully immersive worlds. The market is just at the beginning of understanding the costs associated with content creation.
Triangle companies look for ways to exploit virtual reality, The News & Observer
Serious Insights Commentary: This article looks at perspectives on drugs, on mobile, on real estate and entertainment. Each of the examples represents a solid use case that should inspire other areas where developers can employ VR to enhance their productivity, or encourage innovation.
Virtual reality: could it revolutionise higher education?, Time Higher Education (THE)
Serious Insights Commentary: It is unlikely that higher education will be completely revolutionized by VR, but in many areas, from engineering and robotics, to interior design and medical training experiences, it will create entirely new paradigms for teaching. But unlike previous technology shifts that relied on existing content, VR will require new teaching models and major investment.
Educators won’t be able to simply digitize text or capture a lecture. VR worlds need to be built. Yes, some value will come from basic 360º-immersion for areas like archeology perhaps, but even there, true VR will be infinitely more valuable than just video. Virtual engineering labs, like the one mentioned in the article for Pennsylvania State University, aren’t off-the-shelf creations. There will be plenty of software engineering ahead of any meaningful deployment. Eventually developers will create kits for various applications, like engineering, but those don’t exist yet. Early work will likely not be useable for very long as competing approaches emerge. The real value won’t be the initial implementations, but the process of thinking through what it will take to create tools like an engineering lab that not only accurately integrates knowledge and existing tools, but provide a learning platform.
Serious Insights Commentary: Sheryl Sandburg may be onto one of the most important ideas related to VR, that of empathy. VR can put people into places that they can’t otherwise go, and that includes into other people experiences, into their perspectives on the world. If you have never been kidnapped, beaten, survived a suicide bombing, experienced sleep deprivation or drug withdrawals, then VR can simulate those situations so that you can, first hand, with as much realism as current technology can muster.
Sheryl Sandburg may be onto one of the most important ideas related to VR, that of empathy.
The New York Times VR is already establishing immersive video as an instrument of empathy. Interestingly, unlike other areas of VR, where models will play and important role, the immersiveness of experience may call for more moderate technology. If the models can’t be as real as reality, then they may actually distract from the goal of creating empathy, so using immersive video to evoke responses may be the best road for now. Like everything in VR, there will need to be a lot of development, experimentation and learning to understand how the technology can best serve as a conduit to empathy. Here is an example from Newsweek and describes how VR is used to demonstrate what it is like to be autistic (Virtual reality video shows what it’s like to be autistic.)
Navy develops diver’s helmet with augmented reality, ars technica & here Iron Man meets Aquaman as Navy turns to augmented reality, computerworld
Serious Insights Commentary: This is an example of a hardware innovation that will likely occur as the AR market matures: specialized hardware. Skiers are already getting some AR features in googles, they will get more, as will anyone who uses a helmet or other headset. Race drivers, football players and construction workers, will all benefit from task-specific hardware that provides them with the best experience related to the work they are doing. Openness may govern the software platform, but solutions will form around purpose-built headsets and apps . More here: Augmented Reality Is Flashy but It Might Actually Be Most Useful at Your Job, Inverse.
Serious Insights Commentary: Developers are drooling over the advertising potential of VR, and this post reinforces that potential. VR is a huge source of new data about how people interact not just with ads, but with product simulations in a context (and for digital products, perhaps even the product itself).
Anything imagined will, literally, find a way into VR. In the article, Media Ant’s CEO, Samir Chaudhary, offers up previsualization of a vacation. Travelers who have not visited a location can only extrapolate from 2D and video, and then only from perspectives those sources capture. With VR and models of areas, people can step into pre-vacation planning experiences. Walk, tag shopping locations and locate restaurants. VR will make travel more productive by allowing travelers to better use their limited leisure time. Imagine synchronizing tagged areas with a phone so location services can notify travelers when they near something they have tagged in VR. Again, this is about perspective. Previsualization of vacations provides another perspective, and an new opportunity for reaching out with offers before customers even know what they can imagine.
As for advertising itself, the platform players may be drooling, but the end users are probably dreading.
Augmented Reality for Industry, AutomationWorld and here: Augmented reality in the enterprise – moving from pipe dream to use cases?, diginomica + New PTC Platforms Aim To ‘Democratize’ Augmented Reality, IoT Tech, Forbes
Serious Insights Commentary: The PTC platform called Vuforia Studio Enterprise lays down an early gauntlet at the AR community, one, however, unlikely to become “the” standard. Competing approaches will emerge. See FlippAR reveals huge potential of Augmented Reality, Deccan Herald, for an alternative to PTC’s tagging tech.
Serious Insights Commentary: To reinforce earlier comments on the ability of VR to capture imagination, creating VR versions of enterprise, municipality or country level visions is a great use of the technology. I attended a city planning meeting, amazed that maps contained neither orientation nor legends. Without a planner explaining the maps, no one would know what they were looking at. VR would have been an excellent way to tell the story of the redevelopment plans, and we would not have needed to travel to Bellevue City Hall a rush hour to experience it.
Serious Insights Commentary: The short answer is yes. Furniture assembly is a great use of AR. But its also a potential cautionary tale. If companies can’t write readable, useable, instructions on paper, what makes anyone think that the same company will be able to produce a meaningful AR assembly experience. AR will be more expensive and more difficult—and it will expose incompetencies in communication even faster than paper. The emergence of guided experiences will offer a good opportunity for instructional designers to apply their capabilities in areas they might not have considered in the past.