By Kevin Kline
If there was one technology on display at the Dublin Tech Summit, it was virtual reality. VR headsets were the biggest gift of Christmas 2016, so it only make sense that major companies like Accenture and eir would use VR to entertain and excite summit attendees.
But the various displays on the floor highlight major challenges for the industry. The fact is that no one company owns the standard on the technology.
Samsung, the only headset maker demonstrating at the Dublin Tech Summit simply showed a 360 video.
Accenture, on the other hand, created a rugby game using an Oculus system with hand controllers. As you moved forward, the perspective moves forward. As you move your hand, the character moves his hand.
Testing out both Accenture and Samsung’s demonstrations, it’s clear Accenture had the more immersive experience, despite VR being far from its core business.
Pali Helsin, partner and COO of MediaMonks, says the two standards impact how connected viewers can be.
“I have a 5 year old son,” Helsin explained in a panel. “If he can stand in a field giving grass to a dinosaur versus watching a dinosaur… it will change everything about how we experience it.”
Helson says the Gear VR standard of simple 360 video is static. The video wraps around the viewer. On the other hand, Oculus and HTC give a more immersive experience where moving forward and backward is reflected in the video.For marketers and content creators, Helson says they need to be immersive and perfect. Stitching errors, misplaced audio, and mistakes like visible tripods cannot happen.
— Kevin Kline (@KevinKlineNews) February 16, 2017
In many ways, the quality of content is rapidly growing and improving. Jacki Morie, CEO of All These Worlds, says virtual reality is just now becoming it’s own medium. She compares it to television and film. Film, after all, was not its own medium until D.W. Griffith came along says Morie.
“There was no ‘killer app’ for television in the early days,” says Morie.
She argues it will take a critical mass of content will push VR to the mainstream, just as it took a critical mass of content to convince people to buy television sets.
Other products like Microsoft’s HoloLens bring another sister technology to the market: augmented reality. Augmented reality takes digital information and content and lays it over the real world around the user.
Last summer’s breakout game on smartphones, Pokemon Go, used AR to elevate the experience. Other applications will allow for better interoffice communication and learning.
One major debate is whether AR or VR will be the dominant technology in the future.
Managing director of art and technology collective Seeper, Ed Daly says,“it comes down to applications.”
Daly says immersive VR is perfect for entertainment purposes, but for other applications like productivity and education tools, augmented reality could be more useful.
Helsin says future headsets will be clear for augment reality with the ability to go ‘dark’ to fully enter an immersive virtual reality.
“VR and AR are subsets of mixed reality,” says David Maloney, CTO of Movidius.
In the future, the technology will shrink, too. Samsung’s Gear VR’s biggest advantage is that it does not require extra wire or computing power. HTC’s and Oculus’ systems require a lot of computing power.
Another major development will be to tap into the other senses.
About 10 years ago, Jacquelyn Morie began working on brining scents into virtual training for the U.S. Army. At first, scents were overpowering, but newer technologies are carefully distributing scents like diesel fuel will get better.
So what will happen to virtual reality in the future as the hype reaches its peak? It will depend on content. More content creators need to shape their productions around immersive virtual reality from conception to implementation.
Like all technologies, it takes a critical mass to reach its full potential.