Virtual Reality Expectations
I got a message on LinkedIn the other day from Alan Smithson. He is the CEO of MetaVRse and an industry influencer in virtual and augmented reality. He wrote to me about my review of Marketing New Realities. He thought I had some good points but he said that Hackl and Wolfe wrote the book a long time ago before there were very many VR/AR use cases. He said that will change quickly. I appreciate Smithson’s feedback. This isn’t the first time I’ve been told my VR/AR expectations are too high. When I worked at Doghead Simulations I was told expected too much.
The thing is, I don’t believe one can have too high of expectations. I think the immersive reality industry needs realists and people to keep raising the bar for virtual and augmented reality. If all we do is pat each other on the backs saying, “Good job! This is awesome!”, where’s the motivation to keep improving? Who’s going to say, “that’s cool but how would an every day person use it? Who’s your target audience?”.
Marketing New Realities was published in October, 2017. That means Hackl and Wolfe must have done their research and writing a few years before. I started at Doghead in the summer of 2016, without knowing anything about virtual reality. I learned a lot since then and experienced many cool virtual realities.
Unfortunately, outside of the VR/AR world, I don’t see much difference between 2016 and now for consumers. The people I talk to don’t know what virtual reality is. They think it’s a pod you sit in at the mall to ride a virtual roller coaster. Sometimes they text me a photo of someone wearing a VR headset from a magazine, proud that they recognized VR.
They don’t know what augmented reality is. I don’t see my friends taking 360 degree videos and sharing headsets to view them. When my friends talk about getting new phones, it’s not based on if they’re VR compatible. They don’t buy based on Google’s ARCore or Apple’s ARKit.
You may say, “Lily, you just don’t have tech forward friends.” Or maybe you might think I’m being too negative again. My friends are every day people, the every day people who we want to be immersive reality consumers. These are the people that we need to adopt VR and AR so that we can keep investing in it and build upon it.
My friends are the perfect consumers for VR. Many of them are military families, which means they live far from their friends and family. Every few years we pack up and move, like dandelions in the wind. When our spouses are deployed, what better way to be with them then in VR? Why talk on the phone or 2D video when you could virtually hug them and interact with them?
I tried to get my husband to buy and Oculus Go before he left. He was too worried about damaging it or having the space to pack it so we didn’t end up buying one. This is the guy who spent so much time in VR one day that I found him swinging and ducking in my office in total darkness. He never realized it became night time!
I want to be able to use VR and AR in marketing my blog but I am not a developer. I will have to wait for others to create VR/AR drag and drop editors to create my content. I can play with SnapChat AR filters but I think it’s a flaw to depend on social media for VR/AR access.
It takes lots of little steps to make a big change. But in the tech world, things seem to move so fast.
I could upgrade my phone to one with AR capabilities. I realize it takes lots of little steps to make a big change. But in the tech world, things seem to move so fast. There have been so many leaps in hardware since 2016. The growth predictors claimed the virtual reality industry would be in the billions by 2020. So it’s not that my expectations are too high. I think many people’s expectations are high. Everyone wants virtual and augmented reality to be a success and for that success to be now. We have to understand that there is no overnight success. We won’t wake up tomorrow with AR contacts in our eyes.
I hope that my blog posts will inform, educate, and excite every day people and tech enthusiasts to virtual reality. I hope that those in the VR industry will be interpret my comments as thoughts to improve what has been done.
I love the enthusiasm and spirit of the immersive reality industry. I do not doubt the creators will wow us more and more. But I want to move beyond the “wow” factor to actual, useful apps and devices that bring real value to our lives. That is why it’s important to recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly of virtual and augmented reality.