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Virtual reality

Can you afford to miss the virtual train?

VR is everywhere right now. Wherever you turn it seems you walk headlong into another conversation about this new medium.

1. VR is not new, but this time it’s ready to take off.

Until relatively recently, for most consumers the term ‘VR’ was synonymous with Apple’s QuickTime VR: a panoramic or cubic set of stitched static images which afforded the viewer some sense of place, and the ability to control what they looked at by clicking with a mouse. This, of course, has been around since the mid 1990s. Even earlier than that, in the late 80s, pioneering computer scientist Jaron Lanier coined the term ‘virtual reality’, and NASA and a handful of universities were doing research with actual head-mounted displays. But the lack of widespread availability of hardware and software that could deliver truly immersive experiences meant that, in the public consciousness at least, VR was decidedly flash-in-the-pan.

Today, all that has changed: image display technology, currently consisting of head-mounted displays (HMDs), has reached a sufficient level of sophistication and affordability that the consumer experience is both rich and accessible. Image capture devices have kept pace with display technology, and it’s easier than ever to capture 360° video content.

The final piece of this puzzle is content creation. What’s clear is that the developments in hardware are creating the perfect storm for the evolution in software. And more specifically in our case, content creation software.

2. Your competition is already doing it.

According to our recent VR Industry survey (which received over 2,500 responses), over 38 percent of those who answered are currently working on or have already completed VR and/or AR projects. If you’re thinking that while VR is super-hot right now, it’s also still very immature and it’s not clear yet exactly where it’s going, you’re absolutely right. But here’s the thing: your competitors have already jumped in and started playing with this new medium, so unless you want to be left behind when it does eventually take off, you’d better jump in too!

VR industry survey from Foundry
VR headset and the future of technology

3. Consumers are interested now, so we need to deliver—now.

Consumer interest is the lynchpin for success, and once you have it, you have to nurture it. It’s one thing being able to get your hands on an affordable HMD, but it’s no good if there’s nothing to view. In many ways, this is the chicken-and-egg stage of development. But we believe that if VR is going to become a successful and viable component of the entertainment industry—whatever form that takes in the future—then we need to start creating content now. Because no one ever learnt anything by not giving it a go.

4. It’s not about what’s happening now as much as it’s about shaping what comes next.

OK, so this is probably true of all new technology, because the world doesn’t stop spinning round the sun and the technology industry never stops innovating. Every new thing feeds the next new thing, so you need to be part of the cycle of innovation if you want to keep growing. Because we all remember the legendary tale of Kodak, who ignored the disruptive technology that had the potential to put them out of business, so it put them out of business.

The opportunity to shape a new medium doesn’t come very often in our industry. Grab it with both hands.

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