Now that Christmas is done – its that time of the year again! The top predictions of 2017, from leaders and people of all kinds.

I will be writing an editorial on VR in 2016, but for now do have a look at what the people say down below. Have fun, and have a great rest of the year!

Matt Connors, SimplygonHow VR has evolved in 2016

AR and VR certainly generated a lot of media buzz in 2016. Even so, what we’ve seen to date is still in its infancy. Hyped as they are, new AR devices such as Microsoft HoloLens are not yet widely available and AR app development is at quite an early trial-and-learn stage.

Oddly enough, for most people, the Pokémon Go phenomenon provided the most evident example of AR’s potential. The mobile game was the closest thing we’ve seen to a mainstream, killer AR or VR app, to date.

Today, however, enterprise early-adopters have been developing the most interesting and ambitious AR projects. The industrial implications of AR are profound — billions of dollars in productivity gains are at stake as AR, AI (machine learning and computer vision), IoT, and the cloud merge into what some believe will be a major industrial advance. McKinsey has labelled Industry 4.0.

Frog DesignVR-on-demand and micro-experiences 
As VR’s accessibility grows to a mainstream audience, live entertainment venues and performers will be increasingly displaced by low cost/high engagement entertainment options that people can access from the comfort of their home. As a supplement to the cost of empty seats, or perhaps even profit on top of an already sold-out-show, the entertainment industry will find ways to sell VR tickets to the best seats in their live events in 2017—from watching Beyoncé at Madison Square Garden to seeing the UEFA Champions League—as well as opening up an immersive streaming VR catalog of past performances.

One particularly intriguing concept is the idea of VR micro-experiences, which allow users to transport themselves in space and time in order to experience wonderful little moments that refresh their senses. Think of it as a fast and inexpensive vacation for the mind.

Michael Cable, FramestoreVR and eye-tracking

Eye-tracking in a viable form is soon coming to VR. This mean we can track a user’s experience more precisely to better understand important social triggers like blinking and eye contact – crucial human behaviours that are obscured by wearing a headset.

More saliently, though, eye-tracking also means we’re a step closer to ‘foveated rendering’ (where VR tech can mimic the human eye by only rendering in detail the part of the image that’s being focused on). This may sound like a geeky granular detail that’s only relevant to those involved in the production side of VR. But it will have a dramatic impact on the creative side too.

Currently, 100% of the VR experience is rendered to a high-level so that users have the freedom to look wherever they want without any sacrifice in quality. But this ‘over-rendering’ creates a pixel wastage. By identifying which part of the screen someone’s looking at, and rendering only that piece of the image in real-time at hi-res, we free up a huge amount of computer processing and rendering power that can instead be used to craft more detail and more fidelity.

Florence Engasser, NestaA new artistic approach to virtual reality
VR will have an even more radical impact on the creation of new works of art. It will change the way people make art, giving it a new sense of space and dimension, making it more collaborative and more like a game. With the launch in April 2016 of Tilt Brush, an application using a VR headset and motion-tracking controllers as paintbrushes, Google initiated this revolution. It enables users to paint life-size three-dimensional brush strokes in a virtual space, or in a way, to create a sculpture by painting.

VR transforms the creative experience. Creating in a virtual three-dimensional space helps make the process more intuitive and natural than painting in two dimensions. It also gives the tool great potential to be used as a platform in museums or galleries to create elaborate art installations, such as the 2016 Björk Digital exhibition at Somerset House. The Icelandic artist chose VR because of its unique ability to facilitate interactions between different forms of art – in her case music and visual arts – and between artist and audience.

Warren Lester,  Vicon Content distribution and evolution 
Over the last several years there have been substantial improvements to the graphic processing abilities of standard off the shelf computers. Likewise the tools used for creating VR content have become much more accessible to the mass market over the last two years. The industry is now starting to see a rise in content produced by individuals and the public, rather than by games companies and large studios. This increase has been driven by the availability and cost of game engines such as Unreal and Unity.

It’s likely the VR industry will see further content created by individuals and smaller developers. This trend has already happened within mobile app development, a large quantity of content available on major app stores such as Apple and Android is created by smaller companies. This is an extremely successful way of distributing content and it could easily be replicated for the VR industry. Making VR content easily delivered to consumers, as well as providing smaller developers with the chance to gain the maximum publicity for their content.

Jonathan Wagstaff, CONTEXTVR and eSports
The world of eSports will continue to grow in both popularity and recognition, as a movie is planned starring Will Ferrell on the burgeoning phenomenon. Vendors and retailers will pay more attention to PC gaming as the category offers them the chance to make up for losses in a sector which has been declining in the last few years. High average selling prices for gaming products, excellent attach rates and margins for gaming accessories, and the availability of unsecured consumer borrowing will be major drivers. Virtual reality will also continue to grow in the consumer space, although still at a modest pace. However we expect to see more HMDs going into the B2B and corporate reseller channels for which products such as the Hololens are a gift.

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