Last week saw the first techUK conference looking at the consumer landscape and market for immersive technologies. This is a new area for techUK and we had a great line up of speakers, demonstrations and presentations and we look forward to ding more in this area of technology.
The VR & AR: Revolutionising Consumer Tech? conference saw 100 people from across the tech, media, broadcast and creative sectors come together to discuss the consumer propositions for VR and AR, what business models and ecosystem needs to be in place and how to drive adoption among consumers.
There were also fantastic presentations looking at the market for VR tech, the vital importance of standards and how it can be featured in the broadcast space. There was also a brilliant presentation of The Way Back, a VR experience helping dementia patients and I strongly urge you all to have a look at what they are doing.
The presentations can be seen below and a round up of the main points are as follows.
The first panel discussed VR/AR content and key points were:
- Long form narrative storytelling is in a golden period and VR and immersive isn’t good for this type of content.
- Interaction is the key to content people want, such as games and experiences.
- AR works best for more passive experiences and is more useful and accessible.
- Lessons need to be learned from 3D TV – poor quality content killed it off as a consumer proposition.
- Content creators need to act responsibly and think about the extent people are immersed and what effect it will have on people.
- On the brand and marketing side, a lot of companies want to do a VR experience, but don’t have a strategic reason why.
On business models and monetisation of these new technologies:
- Important not to lump AR and VR together as they have different user cases and experiences.
- A lot of service oriented firms and agencies entering this space don’t appreciate or understand the IP, licensing and rights world that film and TV producers have to deal with.
- Headset manufacturers and devices are making the most money currently and have become content creators to lure consumers in.
- A lot of the money for VR/AR content is held by marketing departments so it’s important to make sure you understand those needs.
- There are significant sums available from Government, InnovateUK, other bodies like Immerse UK as well as from PSBs and brands investing in immersive tech.
- AR as an accompaniment to physical goods is a great way to differentiate those physical products, so make this proposition to physical gods manufacturers.
- Whilst this applies to most digital goods, VR/AR apps and experiences can provide accurate digital metrics which help justify business cases to advertisers and commissioners.
The third panel heard from experts on what ecosystem needs to be created to develop the UK immersive tech sector into a global leader. Main points from the conversation were:
- Standards and interoperability are vital components for tech ecosystems. In VR, this means lens to eye, defined pixels, refresh rates etc.
- We need ubiquitous cloud and connectivity to be in place as these technologies underpin and enable content delivery over the top.
- There needs to be a healthy mix of production companies, creatives and post production to be able to work in these formats.
- SDKs and tools for developers are vital. When the Android developer kit is released, there will be more innovation and apps created.
- There needs to be an appreciation that an ecosystem for some forms of VR and AR for decades. For example HUDs on aircraft, simulators and many more.
- Lessons can be learned from how the UK developed other burgeoning tech ecosystems, such as big data and analytics.
- Challenge is getting the different players in the sector to use common language.
The final panel discussed how to get consumers on board and drive adoption of VR and AR and main points were:
- The best way to drive adoption is more people trying immersive technologies out and the challenge is to develop a network of cafes, arcades and experiences for people to do so.
- Gaming is leading the charge in consumer adoption of VR and AR, with more VR devices sold than there are total registered on Steam.
- There is a chicken and egg situation between hardware and content. Hardware manufacturers can't succeed unless there's rich, high quality experiences and content for people to enjoy.
- Another challenge is balancing reach of VR content with quality. The best quality immersive experiences require hardware (powerful PCs, high end headsets) most people don't have, so those commissioning often opt for lower quality to maximise reach.
- Gaming has been the main driver and already more VR devices than registered on Steam
- New versions of hardware like Oculus, Gear and Vive will drive sales and uptake.
- We already have AR capable devices in smartphones and 360/VR/AR frequently top app store charts, and is a good gateway to these technologies.