Inna Zagrebelny, Marketing Manager, Giraffic
Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the most hyped technologies, supported by multitude of announcements, product launches, applications introductions and technology reviews. While it’s clear that VR is going to change our lives, the timeframe of when it will happen on a large scale and in what capacities remain uncertain. To get to the bottom of this, we hosted #StateofVR Twitter roundtable to address the trend and how its adoption is changing the entire ecosystem.
Industry experts joined the chat, including Troy Dreier of StreamingMedia.com, Maria Korlov from Hypergrid Business, Alexis Macklin of Greenlight Research and Giraffic CEO, Yoel Zanger, just to name a few.
360 video is the gateway to Mainstream VR
Even with the constant buzz around VR, the consumers’ access to the new medium is still very limited. As such, they are exposed to VR-based short-term experiences rather complete VR products. Mistakenly, a lot of 360 videos are being considered as VR by consumers, while in fact those are two different experiences. This is unsurprising, considering that 360 videos are much easier to create, requiring only a 360 camera or a smartphone with a proper app. To view these videos, consumers only need a Google Cardboard and certain videos can be seen without a headset at all. This ease of experience adds context to the projected 84.4 million units of the Cardboard to be sold in 2016. However, once the consumer is exposed to VR- there is a clear preference of more immersive experience than the 360 videos have to offer.
The Barriers of Mainstream VR Adoption
The participants identified the main challenges for mainstream adoption to be motion sickness, quality of the visuals, the simplicity and comfort of the hardware and the opportunity to try VR. Since consumers have a very limited experience with the immersive medium, they need to be persuaded of the benefits of the tech. Bulky, tethered and high-priced devices that are capable of delivering better experiences are still out of reach to the masses, and will have to become much lighter, more comfortable and less expensive in order to go mainstream. A balance between physical comfort
and immersion must be achieved.
As for entertainment, functionality and image resolution become crucial. The pixelation of current experiences detracts from the sense of realism and in order to look immersive, the video has to be at least 4K. Unfortunately, streaming UHD content smoothly over low-bandwidth home networks is a rare thing to achieve. It’s possible that early adopters can bear the interruptions during the VR video, while the rest of the viewers will just abandon the stream due to poor resolution. Therefore, the industry will have to come up with a solution for WiFi congestions for VR to become mainstream, as such content requires from 3 to 10 times higher internet speeds as of large video files.
Mobile is in Dominant Position for Widespread Growth of VR
Mobile devices are poised to lead the growth of VR, as this is the most affordable and user-friendly platform so far. A consumer is far more likely to have a high end mobile phone than a PC capable of running some of the leading VR experiences provided by the likes of Oculus. However, the hardware- especially the display of mobile – will have to be improved to eliminate the screen door effect the majority of mobile VR currently suffers. There is no doubt that VR will accelerate the deployment of 4K displays on smartphones and additional innovations to support the life-like experiences.
The conclusion of the discussion is that we still have a long way to go for VR to become a common practice and the new normal of social interactions. As a new and exciting technology, VR might be afforded a “grace period” for lagging behind in terms of ease and convenience in comparison to other forms of content consumption, but for how long that will last remains to be seen.
Check out the full stream below for more valuable takeaways. If you have something to say about VR and would like to contribute to this fascinating conversation, we welcome you to do so by using the #StateofVR hashtag.
For more updates, our next Twitter roundtable chats and streaming updates, follow us @GirafficAVA.