The VR Expert Panel consists of some of the industry’s leading VR creatives, working on projects for the world’s biggest brands and organizations. Here they share their thoughts on all things VR. Do you have a question for The VR Expert Panel? Send it to email@example.com.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF VR?
“There is a tendency to overpromise the technology”
Lance Loesberg: This is a question that can partially be answered as a repeat of history. Back in the late 90’s, early 2000’s VR had been overhyped along with other technologies leading into the “dot.com” bust. Then and as is now, there is a tendency to overpromise the technology and its capabilities without carefully examining the current landscape along with potential limitations and risk factors. Of these include cost, various distribution hurdles, display resolution and bandwidth availability and limitations.
In my opinion, immersive media is definitely the media of the future with an abundance of application uses, however we have to keep in mind it’s still very early in the process and will take time for mass adoption as it did other media like and radio and TV.
Lance Loesberg is the founder and CEO of BigLook360 – pioneers and creators with over 20 years experience in producing 360 / VR video and immersive solutions.
“The future holds a hybrid of augmented, virtual, and mixed realities”
Amelia Kallman: Science fiction has shown us scenarios about societies choosing virtual reality over real life, but that possibility seems highly unlikely. While VR offers new solutions, the innate exclusion of one’s natural environment is a limitation when it comes to spending extended periods of time in VR. That’s why I believe that the future holds a hybrid of augmented, virtual, and mixed realities, one where we will have the ability to switch between 2D, AR, VR, and MR like channels on a television.
Amelia Kallman is a leading London futurist, speaker and author. As an innovation and technology communicator, Amelia regularly writes, consults, and speaks on the impact of new technologies on the future of business and our lives.
“The true VR market is the enterprise market”
Samuel Mound: It’s been 4 years now that VR is being presented in the mass media as the next ultimate entertainment platform – a 2016 study by Goldman Sachs even predicted that the VR market would overtake the TV market by 2026. However market figures indicate that mass consumer adoption is much slower than expected as hardware prices are still prohibitive – even though the new stand-alone devices are likely to become true game-changers. Meanwhile the true VR market is the enterprise market and particularly training & education, enterprise virtual reality training services expected to generate US$6.3 billion in 2022 (ABI Research, 2017). It’s no surprise if Facebook has recently made a significant move in favour of enterprise VR announcing its Independent Software Vendors program during Oculus Connect 6 in September 2019.
Samuel Mound is a Marketing Strategist & Account Manager at V-Cult – a company focused on empowering product and retail designers, brand educators, storytellers and sales geniuses thanks to its 10-year background in immersive web and VR/AR technologies.
“VR is rarely a passive experience”
Mark Matthews: I think a common concern people have when considering the future of VR is that it will one day result in a completely plugged in, head always in a set, dependent, unhealthy society. Not unlike the saccharine dystopia of the film Wall-E. With the world’s experiences at the touch of our fingers, why would we ever return to the pain of the real world?
This analogy is, of course, an exaggeration of their concerns, but it’s not like it arrives without some precedent. As the age of information progresses, entire movements are dedicated to getting screen-bound kids off the machines and outside to play. Many of our jobs have evolved into seemingly endless hours of screen time. Perhaps, even, the fear stems partly from the nagging feeling that the real world could very likely be out-beat by a virtual surrogate. The overwhelming sentiment being that it would a little too much “candy” and not “meat and potatoes.”
But what one discovers after spending any significant amount of time in VR headsets is that it’s rarely a passive experience. Whereas, TV often sinks us into the couch for a several hour tour. VR has you usually standing, actively looking around, and interacting physically with digital objects beyond merely pushing a button. VR enlists the mind and the body more holistically and makes it near impossible for your brain to drop into default mode. This brings the opportunity to engage the viewer as user, viewer as character, or viewer as storyteller, which often stimulates more in-depth thinking and engagement. With this active engagement comes a certain amount of energy drain: VR can be exhausting, with many users naturally stepping away as the toll takes hold.
Don’t get me wrong; there will always be the habitual and those who might be bound to dwell in the cyberspace by trade, but by and large, most people who enjoy VR typically reach a reasonable point where they are ready to be done. In this way, VR is an additional life experience rather than an alternative one.
Mark Matthews is a Marketing Strategist at NEXT/NOW, a next-gen Experiential Tech Company that specializes in AR/VR, touch, gesture, motion tracking. and more.
“VR as yet does not have that needed shared language between creators and audiences”
Peter Maddalena: The speed of change, the adoption of VR and actual use cases are the three biggest misconceptions talked about when discussing the future of VR.
Consider that each revolution in media begins with carrying over key elements of what has gone before. Early radio was dominated by classic music performance pieces. Early movies by the stagecraft of the time. Television by the mix of programs offered by radio at that time. This repeating pattern is to do with creatives in existing media moving into the new and then expressing their ideas in the new medium. Each new medium demands not only creators to experiment but the audiences to learn and understand. One great example of this is the Dolly Shot. Invented by Alfred Hitchcock’s cameraman in the 1958 film “Vertigo” about 50 years after films had become popular.
At the moment, much of the current content in VR is dominated by creatives who originate from the film production or video gaming industries. These folks are definitely breaking the boundaries, but like the early adopters in every era, they are also confined by their established work practices, understandings and tools that are currently available to them. These work practices, understandings and tools have been developed primarily to deliver content in the 2D screen space of a TV, monitor or mobile device. Audiences are good at consuming media delivered in this way and are particularly great at understanding narrative in this way. This is because they are familiar with it; they understand the language of it and therefore have little or no barriers to understanding the messages the creators of content want to convey.
VR as yet does not have that needed shared language between creators and audiences. Understanding and closing this gap is key to the future of VR and of exceptional VR experiences. It is the actual nature of perception itself that is central to this shared language, however very little is actually spoken about this. It is rich area in which the psychological world has made great inroads over the last 20 years. Essentially determining that we really do live in our memories, with the world that we experience being constantly updated with new information only some of it from actually from sight. The other information we use to recreate reality in our heads comes from a number of psychological bias’s which nature has developed over millions of years to allow us to decode the world around us. If you think you understand perception, just watch Dr Wisemans’s “The multi-coloured card trick” and be prepared to be challenged in an entertaining way.
The actuality of perception is a very different from looking at a stereoscopic image in a VR headset but once the link between how reality is perceived and how a created virtual reality is embraced by an audience is better understood then the resulting applications will be incredible. We are already seeing some of these works mainly centred on the therapeutic side of the industry and with the understanding that how we perceive and internalise reality is a driver of health and happiness only the best is yet to come.
Peter Maddalena is the managing director at UK immersive agency VRCraftworks.