A few things I’ve learned about Virtual Reality

A few things I’ve learned about Virtual Reality

As we move toward the festive season, I thought I would share what I’ve been learning over the past few months since being on the project with Weavr.Space

Note: I sense a frenzy about to happen, and I really want to encourage everyone to watch this space.
But also want to give a word of caution, hence blogging this independently.
Here are a few blogs I’ve written around all this too: (as not the first time I am saying it)

Ready Player One
What is Virtual Reality?
How to choose a good domain name (AR/VR case study, and stats)
Virtual Reality and the Future of Privacy
Virtual Reality and Marketing
What is Vtime? 
What is AltspaceVR 
VR and Local Business Opportunities (coming soon!)
VR and AR chat with myself and James Dearsley
Oculus Rift Developers Kit, my interview with Robert Klados
Oculus Rift Developers Kit (part 2), my interview with Ben Ritter

And now, let’s get moving…

Introduction:

There are two main types of people who believe they are going to make money from VR.
The first is developers, the second are fools.

We’ve all been here before (many times) with attempts to monetize in new space.
I am monetizing as a VR analyst and consultant (3 month contract, extended to end January 2017), with spreadsheets of gradings of qualities of the apps (more on that next year), but I would be a fool to say I have a business model yet.

An eco-system is forming, with people serving developers too, but it won’t be easy for non-professionals to create content in this space until it is, by which point everyone will be able to.

Go gently, it is amazing. That’s all I am saying.

With that in mind, let’s begin…

VR is the next platform*

Facebook (a social platform) owns Oculus – one of the largest in the space

And Oculus is slowly building into a social experience – with ‘gaming’ being a keen focus
(think: ‘Rec Room’ for engagement, and Oculus Social for videos)

As such, know this:
On all these platforms – you are either a consumer, or a producer (and sometimes both)

In other words, if you are ‘researching’, make sure you make loads of notes and develop a specific skill set of understanding – or you could just have a cool experience.
There will be loads of perspectives…

*sure VR/AR/MR, but we are starting with VR

Marketing

No-one really understands how to market in these spaces yet, so don’t believe them if they tell you they do.
But there are a few things I can see happening…

  • Bad ratings – people marketing their apps need to build a community prior to launch, getting positive reviews – otherwise they may get hammered (e.g. one star rating), and then people won’t buy
  • Early entrants with poor products can still win (as people will try/buy anything for now), but not for long
  • The quality of current experiences/app is incredible – and well beyond what you would imagine – as such, you need to know the market before you come up with an app idea
  • In terms of ‘marketing within’ VR, we just don’t know yet BUT…
  • There are models emerging as to how to elegantly ‘upsell’ from within an app, just as people would on a website.

Gamers

  • Game developers are the most advanced platform masters – graphics win over video, most of the time
  • Becoming a ‘Virtual Reality Influencer’? Then realise the gaming community is well ahead of you (I am not much of a gamer, but am an analyst)

Addiction

  • VR addiction is going to be an issue, very much like social media addiction
  • VR is no more addictive than social media, except for the porn, which is as addictive as porn

All of this I am writing comedy about, of course.

360s

  • 360s are a good entry point into VR
  • 360 is not VR, but you can experience 360s in VR
  • Low quality 360 (camera, lighting, or location) does not make good content
  • Doing 360 photos is a great way to start a conversation in the real world, with many people asking about the Theta S camera when I’ve used it ‘out and about’
  • Applications of 360s on the web will become more obvious now WordPress is integrating them

Music

These are some of my favourite experiences of all, and…

  • GrooVR is a winning app (just try it)
  • Graphics win more than video experiences right now, esp. if the camera quality is low (‘Eden’ is a great example)
  • Sound, sound, sound – start here, build up into the visual (poor sound quality has let a few experiences down)
  • People are jumping onto this (e.g. apps in LittleStar) and will gain attention, so there are quick wins if it is good enough
  • AI combined with VR could give music videos a whole new (unique/bespoke experience tailored to the viewer) future

Social

  • AltspaceVR is my favourite as you can move around, and the community management is superb
  • Vtime has huge potential, and I can see commercial applications happening soon
  • Oculus Social (as a whole) will happen, and will be huge
  • Meeting people in VR, and then telling people on Facebook about it will be ‘a thing’
  • Using your real name will help people to connect with you.

5+ senses

  • Your attention in VR is complete, i.e. when you are ‘in’ you are ‘in’ – there are no other ‘tabs open’
  • ‘Presence’ can be thought of as a psychological felt experience 
  • Increasing physical felt experience will require haptic devices – suits, gloves
  • Sound is far more important than you may realise (e.g. bi-aural sound means you hear in one ear, like in real life)
  • You cannot, yet, accurately display facial expressions in VR (as you are wearing a headset)
  • Hand motions/gestures in social VR environments have a profound effect as increases the visual input to a person viewing –
  • i.e. Oculus ‘with Touch’ is a level up
  • VR is ‘more than reality’, in that it can create environments and experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have/or do – this can adjust your view of reality, just a little.

Filming

If you want to ‘get into VR’ you will want to film the experiences – and I’ve found there is a lot of subtle set up required.
Leads, extension leads, microphones, camera angles, lighting, etc.
All of this is added to when you consider Room Scale. I’ll put something together for the community on what I’ve learned in due course as ‘it will happen’.

Finally…

This past few months have been great for me – getting paid to explore VR.
If you can get a gig like that too, you are onto a winner, but remember everyone…a rising tide lifts all boats…
…which is great, if you happen to own a boat.

If you are a developer and want to chat about consulting, I am here.