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Mixed Reality Market Exploration

Weekly VRAR Update ✧ Issue № 3
July 14, 2017        


sigma629x640.png EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / COMMENTS

  1. Inertia and confusion in MS/HoloLens “Windows Mixed Reality” calls for discussion with client’s employees about their experience with the developer kit.
  2. We should have a “halftime” discussion about other market findings, too.

checklist-green256.png ACTIVITIES & PROGRESS THIS WEEK

  1. Definition of terms (finally!).
  2. Market trends draft.
  3. Simplified, client-centric segmentation & sizing. Starting to explore target niches where client may find near-term benefits, revenue and establish unique selling propositions.

calendar256.png EVENTS & BREAKING NEWS 🔎

  1. The Oculus Rift + Oculus Touch bundle is now on sale (Amazon & other outlets) for $399 (normally $598) for a limited time during the “Summer of Rift” promotion. Facebook may not want to wait until the holidays to get greater consumer adoption of VR. A handful of games is included, but this price point will still keep many customers on the sideline. At the time of this writing, the HTC Vive still sells for $799 on Amazon.
  2. Next month’s solar eclipse sweeping across North America will be covered by the Weather Channel with the help of Augmented Reality.
  3. Apple’s “Light Field Cameras” patent seen as part of future AR enhancements to their Facetime video conferencing.
  4. This sneak peek at HTC’s future “Link” VR headset dates back to May, but missed my previous updates. Strangely enough, the Link is separated from HTC’s Vive brand and uses a smartphone (upcoming HTC U11) connected via USB (say “old school”), has its own embedded displays, uses an external camera device & boasts full 6DoF motion sensing. The Link will launch in Japan and may not be introduced in the West, where Google cooperative effort is more likely to provide products for the West. Personally, I think things will get more interesting these vendors launch new glasses for the augmented/mixed reality market.
  5. New VRAR educational applications & job opportunities announced in NY at the end of last month.
  6. Eurostar train service is offering undersea VR experiences on limited routes. You can bet this will be coming to business/first class cabins soon.
  7. If you’re anywhere near Comic-Con at the convention center in San Diego July 20-23 (I’ll be in Bend, OR) you can enjoy a free VR movie preview of Blade Runner 2049, produced using Unity engine and viewed using Oculus Rift headsets. You don’t need a conference pass to attend this viewing.
  8. Disney Accelerator now has an interest (literally) in The VOID’s location-based VR/MR experiences. Here comes the big money!

play_button-purple210.png VIDEO RECOMMENDATIONS 📺

  1. Here’s a new, mirthful demo video mixing VR/AR (so it’s MR, or just XR!) using Apple’s ARKit (AR) & HTC Vive (VR).
  2. This video of Tony Parisi’s Augmented World Expo (AWE 2017) keynote speech in Santa Clara is from May 31st but is worth watching or reading to help clarify why the term “extended reality” (XR) is included in our discussion. Here is the AWE YouTube channel to see more. Tony now works at Unity after co-creating Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML)—the precursor to X3D—with Mark Pesce.
  3. Speaking of taxonomy/terminology, HoloLens inventor Alex Kipman claimed that “VR” and “AR” are obsolete (in May of this year). That’s a small problem with brilliant people in technology. They lose track of the real world on the time continuum. Sometimes the real world just isn’t catching up. If you want to catch up with Alex, join him sometime in the distant past, like at this TED Talk in February of 2016 where he introduces the audience to the HoloLens and talks about turning the dial between reality and the virtual world.
  4. Watch Keiitchi Matsuda’s 6-minute, 2016 film called Hyper-Reality if you haven’t already. While XR is exciting, this “future shock” perspective on what could become of AR, AI and the Internet of Things might make you want to escape to a small island with no digital anything.
  5. Audi & the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart use VR for user experience research on self-driving cars. If you visit this link in Google Chrome & use the “translate” option you won’t have to learn German to read about it.
  6. Now that you have your Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, enjoy some of the best 360° videos on YouTube:
  1. YouTube's official VR channel
  2. Game-oriented VR experiences on YouTube (popular VR channel).
  3. Promotional example from 2016: Etihad A380 promo with Nicole Kidman

info pictograph292.png FYI: ARTICLES & REFERENCES

  1. Automotive AR HUD — Lest we forget (as we look at market segmentation & target niches), HMDs are not the only means of VRAR display. This Gizmodo review of the $400 Navdy dash-mounted projection AR HUD (announced three years ago) points out some pros & cons and includes a lot of real user feedback in the comments. Navdy uses voice commands, a wheel-mount control and hand gestures for inputs/control. It uses the car’s OBD port for power & Bluetooth for phone connections. This transparent display is small enough that the same information could be provided on a conventional LCD display, which makes this application hardly qualify as AR. And as the reviewer points out, even a transparent HUD can distract the driver’s eyes from the road. This may be a reason we don’t see more windshield HUDs included from the factory, but that doesn’t bubble up to the top in this automotive HUD discussion.
  2. Immersion & Presence — This VR presence researcher’s comments on the importance of a higher, “full body” level of VR immersion is strangely reminiscent of the 1935 “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” immersive experience.
  3. Using VR for Promotion — While we explore B2B solutions using VRAR, we need to remember that the best near-term “solution” is one that addresses our own corporate promotional needs. Matthias McCoy-Thompson, co-founder of Agora VR, writes about the higher level of engagement and "presence" that VR provides (as compared to conventional marketing and promotion) in this June 27th article in Chief Marketer. An IT/engineering company with a great deal of content already developed in 3D CAD needs to look at the low barriers it faces in developing compelling marketing in VRAR.
  4. Case Study — Home Depot mobile omnichannel retail solution by Y Media labs.
  5. Market Sizing Silliness — When Variety (entertainment mag/website) is calling out a market research firm on their VR/AR market sizing methodology, you know there might be credibility & utility issues in the numbers. “The [VR] category is being driven mainly by 360° photos and videos on Facebook and YouTube [including users with no VR apparatus at all].” Guess what...that’s not VR!!
  6. All-in-One & Hardware Cost Subsidizing — I did the original concept testing on HP’s first “all in one” (AiO) printer-fax-copier many years ago. Bundling space-hogging products into one device made some people nervous about quality & reliability, but the idea was good enough to become the dominant peripheral in the computing market. Now, the first untethered “all in one” headset has been launched in the porn industry. Even the “content” is bundled, which clearly will help move the headset’s $220 price lower over time.
  7. Game Variety — I know we’re not targeting the gaming industry, but popular Oculus Touch and gamepad games are worth glancing at (video links included) to appreciate the variety of styles from content creators, which can spark ideas for applications in commercial markets that have not yet been considered for XR.

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