“We've been exposed to flat rectangles on walls for a long time. We don't know that we don't want that any more.”
This is one quote that we can’t get out of our heads from OrlandoiX this year. It was a discussion point during the panel, one of our co-founders, Elbert Perez, was on. The panel’s focus was The Real Business of VR. This panel was very powerful because it set some themes for the conference: that immersive technology is about computers learning to understand the way humans think and act instead of humans having to learn about how computers work. AR, VR, and MR are so much more than a new gaming platform. It is a change in computing from input to output.
A speaker after The Real Business of VR panel talked about why virtual reality won’t actually be a multi-billion dollar industry in the next five years. He displayed graphs that showed how the hardware sales numbers were skewed. He talked about how the Apple AR store will suck up 30% of an app’s revenue, decreasing incentive to make new AR apps.
He talked about how investors are looking hard at VR companies in terms of monetization and adoption of headsets. While it is true that investors are looking at how immersive tech companies will bring in revenue instead of investing solely on an idea, that doesn’t mean these startups are dead in the water.
We couldn’t help but think how people have been staring at 2D screens for so long that they don’t know that they want anything different. This is similar to what our other co-founder, Chance Glasco, said in a recent Forbes article. Quoting Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
We shouldn't write off a whole industry before it even gets started. 2016 was the first big year for VR. 2017, while it had a slower start, is picking up steam.
The Director of Business Strategy for the Hololens, Ben Reed pointed out in his talk about mixed reality what we think everyone interested in the immersive tech industry needs to know. Augmented reality and virtual reality are on a spectrum. There is a whole area in between that is called mixed reality. This opens up a diverse playing field for companies ready to bring their innovative ideas mainstream.
We are in a renaissance of immersive technology. Everyone from creatives to the business minded are finding ways to incorporate AR, VR, 360 video, and beyond into their daily lives. One only needs to do a quick Facebook search to find group after group of people using this technology.
Some will fail. Not every company will turn into a Michelangelo, Titian, or Donatello but they will be a contributor, pushing the movement forward into the reality of our lives. The Renaissance lasted for centuries. It started after the middle ages and ended in the 17th century. Technology moves much, much faster.
What we learned this year at OrlandoiX is an important message for those interested in the immersive tech industry: it is here to stay. We only have to look at the history of computers to see that immersive technology like AR, VR, and MR, is the next logical step in computing.
The Apple II was released in 1977, selling millions of through 1993. The Apple II was the first PC to gain traction beyond computer hobbyists. Just 14 years later the first iPhone was released. In 2016, only nine years after the release of the iPhone, virtual reality broke into the consumer market and set record investment numbers. We don’t remember those who doubted and dismissed Michelangelo and Donatello. In the same way, the doubters of immersive technology will either be left behind or converted over.
The techniques and styles created by the first renaissance artists were not a one off solution that only they used. Up and coming artists used their techniques and built on top of them. Children growing up in the renaissance only knew that those styles were normal, so naturally, paintings would be done in that fashion.
In the same way, kids today are growing up thinking digital. They think in pictures and video because they used their parent’s iPads since they were toddlers. One example is a kid put into Google Tiltbrush, a VR painting program. The kid drew an igloo around himself. When an adult was put into Tiltbrush, they tried to draw a 2D drawing only to realize that it didn’t work from all angles. This is why the future of immersive technology is unstoppable. Children are already thinking in 3D when it comes to computers. They expect to be able to draw and play in 3D because that is what they’re growing up with.
Immersive technology will be more than the ability to display digital information into our reality or transporting ourselves into a completely digital world. Immersive technology will ask computers to learn how humans work, instead of humans having to learn how computers work. This will only make them more accessible and useful to humans. Imagine what problems can be solved and what inventions can be created when humans can just “go” instead of learning a specific software first.
At Doghead Simulations, we understand the quote about staring at glowing rectangles on walls. We know it will take some convincing at first for companies and remote workers to give virtual reality a chance. What we also know is that these same companies and remote workers are interested in virtual reality. They are curious about the possibilities of working in a virtual office together. Once they meet inside of our software, rumii, it suddenly clicks.