2016 – The Year of Hype

2016 will be remembered as the year the world got fired up and started to explore the potential of VR, AR, 360° content, MR, HR, and every other xR that’s possible..

  1. Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) – Facebook started the year with the release of Oculus Rift quickly followed by the HTC VIVE. The introduction of these products set a new tone for what could be accomplished with VR and 360° content. Later, the gaming world changed with the release of the PlayStation VR, pushing the limits of immersive video game experiences at home. Finally, Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream hit the market with a bang, redefining the traditional expectations of Virtual Reality and how and where we engage with it.

  2. What is our collective “IT”? – The realization that we as an industry needed to take a step back and evaluate what ‘it’ is and what ‘it’ is NOT became evident. It was clear that determining the real capabilities and value of this medium would change the course of what would come next.

  3. Unprecedented Collaboration – The need for exploration made really BIG companies collaborate and partner with innovative tech and creative companies to explore the medium. Even media companies like Fox and Showtime started developing VR initiatives to give audiences new ways to view and engage with their content. Artist and influencers in the worlds of music, gaming and even sports teams like the San Francisco 49ers understood that we needed to look to each other to test the limits and discover its true potential.

  4. Events…events…and more events – There were an enormous number of VR focused events, panels, summits and meetups in 2016. We saw legacy conventions like Ad:tech and CES do more than invite VR into their lineups, but facilitate high quality, engaging experiences and activities into their programs.

  5. Global – China established itself as a major player in VR. In July of 2016, Venturebeat foresaw the VR market in China to reach $860 million dollars by the end of the year and predicted it to reach $8.5 billion by 2020. As one of the world’s most influential countries, I think it’s safe to say that’s an indication this industry is inevitably going to grow.

In the end, I think the greatest lesson we learned was that as an VR, AR, and MR industry, we were building a game changing machine, and doing it together.

2017 – The Year of Holy Shit

  1. Battle lines – While 2017 is off to a great start for VR, AR, and MR, I see clear battle lines being drawn in the sand and major players like Facebook and Google are establishing their territories. While Apple was conspicuously absent in the race, it looks like they are getting in the game this year.

  2. Shake Out – I expect a lot of companies to either be consolidated or not create enough value to survive. This shake out, could be great for some…and bad for others. Ultimately, companies that provide value to customers, partners, or end users will thrive. Enabling technologies, which help media driven companies and organizations derive value from the medium, may emerge as leaders in the space…the classic “picks and shovels” thing…

  3. ‘Verticalization’ – We are going see VR continue to be incorporated across many industries like media sports, travel, tech, medicine and journalism. Moreover, the use cases are going to start becoming evident and the ability for the use of the technologies and medium will become more clear.

  4. Destination Experiences – Location based experiences having a stronger presence and will help redefine our idea of engagement. With VR Arcades and pop-up VR activations gaining global popularity, you will have to go to where the experience are to truly feel the impact. The Ghostbusters VR experience at The Void theme park is a great example of how attractions are going to be a new way for people to get their VR or MR fix.

  5. Mobile and Social – Without doubt, I see mobile and social as the immediate future of VR and 360° content. While the market is full of HMD options, the world is still not ready for people walking around with headsets strapped to their faces. The implementation of social features, like Zeality’s Re/Lives, which allows users to record their journey through content and share their reactions with their social media platforms. Every opportunity to make VR socially engaging will give the video’s a shot at going viral, reaching a wider audience, and changing the economics of the content. This will also help drive pull through for content…which something the industry needs to have happen.

Ultimately, I see VR, AR, 360° content, MR, HR, and xR being defined under one term – Immersive Media. Regardless of who your audience is or how you choose to engage with them, Immersive Media will be how you do it.