Panel: Games, videos and branded content will drive VR adoption in 2016

Games, immersive videos, and branded marketing experiences will drive adoption in virtual reality next year, according to a panel of experts hosted by We are Wearables last week in Toronto.

Gaming markets will lead other markets in adopting commercial virtual reality, according to Milan Baic, founder of Pinch VR, a smartphone-based virtual reality headset maker.

“I think next year definitely makes a lot of sense for us folks that are hard core into games,” said Baic.

Courtesy of We Are Wearables

(Image courtesy of We Are Wearables.)

Meanwhile, directors are still struggling with how to direct audience attention when filming for virtual reality, said Elli Rayna, a film-maker from Cinehackers. That film production firm renowned for the “I Am You” experience specifically developed for Oculus Rift.

Cinehackers has opted for 180 degree virtual reality films as an alternative to the standard 360 degrees.

“There needs to be a way to tell the story in front of viewer in order for the viewer to get that story and that is the approach we took,” he said.

Courtesy of We Are Wearables

(Image courtesy of We Are Wearables.)

Marketing, advertising and other forms of branded content is also going to help popularize virtual reality, said Lee Williams, co-founder of Occupied VR, a Toronto-based virtual reality studio.

Plus, companies in this space have money to spend to create content, he said.

Courtesy of We Are Wearables

(Image courtesy of We Are Wearables.)

But these efforts will be inadequate until the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR consumer versions hit the market, said Ben Unsworth, co-founder and president, of Toronto-based Globacore, which creates VR content for brands.

“Right now you can actually buy every single app on the Samsung store, you know like 30 downloads or something like that,” said Unsworth. “It kind of feels like, it felt like not that much is being done.”

Watch the full discussion in the video below.

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David Kariuki

David Kariuki is a technology journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review.

  • I wonder why so many experts seem to have tunnel vision, just focusing on the Oculus.

    There are 15 million Cardboards out there, and a million more about to be shipped by the New York Times. Hundreds of compatible VR apps on the iOS and Android app stores, tens of thousands of immersive videos.

    Not everyone can afford to spend the money it will take to get a high-end headset and the computer to go with it. And of those who can afford it, how many will invest in the first-gen product, instead of waiting for the technology to be improved and the bugs worked out of it?

    But anyone can afford a Cardboard-compatible headset, and there are over 100 manufacturers making them in every shape and material imaginable.

    Even Pinch VR — and they’re making a Cardboard-compatible headset for mobile devices!

    Is it just a marketing issue? The fact that the Oculus was on the cover of Time? And the Cardboard (at least, the cardboard version of Google Cardboard) looks like a joke?

    • lmpierce

      Seems to me that the cardboard approach is a great way to help people get introduced to VR on the cheap. But if I were considering producing content, and that’s an expensive proposition unless we’re talking amateur YouTube videos, I’d want to see that people are willing to invest in the higher quality experience made possible through dedicated devices, even if on the low end consumers can scape by using cardboard and a smartphone. So far, gamers have a history of aggressively showing that kind of spending and prioritizing, but the masses are more fickle.

      • On the other hand, you could also say that if you’re spending a lot of money on content you want the maximum number of people to consume it, even if their experience isn’t as great as it would be on a high-end device.

        And, frankly, right now, you’ve got the Vive on one end, and all the other devices on the other. In fact, with the latest phone, some of the Cardboard-compatible devices have a wider field of view than the Rift and the Gear VR. And if the content is not particular interactive — just videos, or simple single-player games — then the phones can handle it just fine.

        When you get to multiplayer, or server-based games, or games that require high-end physics or other heavy duty graphics or computations, the smartphones can’t keep up. (Yet.)

        But for videos — no matter the quality — and simple games, the Cardboards are great. And I might say, they’re actually better because dropping a phone into a Cardboard makes sense to watch a 3-minute video or play a quick game, or keep the kids amused in the back of the car, etc… And a lot of us fall into this kind of “casual consumer” category.

        The tethered headsets are cumbersome to set up, they’re limited to being near the PCs, you’re not going to stick this in a pocket like you would with a foldable Cardboard.

        • lmpierce

          I still come back to this idea that using cardboard is only ‘good enough’ as a throwaway loss leader. The price I’m willing to pay for a cardboard viewer is $0 and if that’s the standard, the format is doomed. I mean, the phones are plastic, metal, glass, silicone and are the product of millions of work-hours of research and development over decades – and we’re going to settle on a cardboard support for 3D viewing because it’s inexpensive? That just doesn’t follow. At the very least, if the viewer does nothing more than hold the phone, at least make it out of high-quality ‘Lego’-like plastic for durability, design it to look as cool as the phone, and make sure it costs enough to actually convey a message of real value, if not pride in the reason it exists. I truly think the cardboard aspect continues the idea of 3D viewing as a Saturday matinee gimmick that would only be suitable if our phones were made out of tin cans with strings between them (and if such a phone could show 3D I would be very impressed indeed!)