Picture completely unrelated. 

By this point with the flurry of articles and studies on VR, including from the BBC, it’s pretty much impossible to gauge what is right at the moment when it comes to immersive reality. Views have splintered into a tonne of different perspectives, and as a blogger it’s a goddamn nightmare keeping track of who thinks what.

With that said, the BBC (remember, the BBC is a massive organisation with many parts – the views of one component does NOT correspond to the views of all) found a few thoughts which were fascinating.

Tim Fiennes, senior market analyst, audiences said this presents a nuanced marketing challenge. “The industry has difficulty communicating what VR experiences are actually like. Given the wide variety of technology which can determine the nature and quality of experience, setting the right level of expectation for audiences such that they don’t come away underwhelmed is tricky.”

The actual study is really long, and better worded than I can ever surmise. You can find the full study here for your own reading. Do it, it’s really interesting.

What personally interests me is the two takeaways:

First, we need to simplify. We need consistency between the currently fragmented hardware and software experiences. This will enable a more frictionless user experience for all audiences. Consistency and open standards will also provide greater certainty for content creators to produce a breadth of content which is not limited to a small set of costly closed devices.

I’ve been saying this for years, and like any enthusiastic schoolboy or politically-included student, I always like my views to be validated. A frictionless experience is absolutely vital for the success of VR, and making it easier for users to utilise the tech only streamlines its adoption. I also fear this will not be solved for a long time – the closest platform which may streamline this is Zappar for app development, but in terms of hardware it is more tricky. The Windows XP of VR operating systems would be dangerous, monopolising the space, but also will bring VR to a lot of people. In effect, I 100% agree.

Second, we must put the audience not just the technology at the heart of our thinking. This will give us a better understanding of audience perceptions, needs, usage occasions and how best to curate. In turn this will enable us to produce more relevant, impactful and memorable content that fits into real people’s lives.

You would think putting the audience first for the BBC is important, but some companies would not be aware of this. That said, I would confidently say the best companies currently working in VR is fully aware of its capabilities and how it may be used; producers with theatre backgrounds have a grand understanding of how to utilise the technology. In this sense I feel this issue may be toned down in a short while; it’s already happening. Companies are learning fast. Well at least, I think so. And hope so, really.

I could go on and on about this – the BBC has made some excellent points. But we shall see what happens in the future!

Tom Ffiske
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