Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Virtual reality is the big thing in 2016? No. Really? I don't think so.

This was originally published by Prof Eddie Obeng on LinkedIn Pulse.

The BBC's Tech Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones @ruskin147 says, "Virtual reality's the big thing in 2016."

Source: BBC Radio 4 - Broadcasting House, Bluffer's
Guide to 2016 - Rory Cellan-Jones on Technology

"When someone says they can't imagine something happening it says nothing about the probability it will happen and more about the person's lack of imagination." - Anon
I hate to admit it but I can't imagine VR becoming the ‘Next Big Thing’. It is true that VR is pretty amazing.  It draws you in, you lose track of time, and your mind is in a different place from your body – that immersive experience is exhilarating. But when you get a real ‘Next Big Thing’ it is because 'the big thing' gives us real Value. iPads helped you look so cool in front of your friends that you didn't care about the price tag. Value is simply the sum of all the Benefits you get minus the associated Costs, both financial and emotional (for the geeks V=B-C).  VR will only take off if we get the Value right!
Even I am too old and stuffy to wear one of those 'silly', bulky VR face-headsets. How would that look in the office when the CEO puts one on and bumps into a wall because of a 'lack of vision'? To give me Value, the benefits would have to be pretty amazing. VR would work for me if it gave me something I couldn't do without VR, easily and cost-effectively. It would have to, at minimum, give me superpowers.
VR would work for me if it gave me something I couldn't do without VR, easily and cost effectively. It would have to, at minimum, give me superpowers.
Or alternatively VR would give me Value if we could reduce the Costs. For me the emotional cost is of looking silly in a 'face-headset' set. When I saw the new Star Wars movie in 3D, I was kitted out with a style-free, black version of the glasses Brains wore on Tracy Island. The film's images were more immersive than the plot. I know that VR can give you the same experience but turbocharged. But can we make the VR experience happen without the headsets? Yes we can. Do you own a sound player with stereo loudspeakers or a headset? Stereo was the big innovation which turned music into an immersive experience. Your brain is fooled into thinking you are actually surrounded by musical instruments playing. You can create an immersive experience with a screen which is big enough to capture your attention and three-dimensional sound. For me just taking away the bulky, face-headset would bring huge value.
I would be primarily interested in using VR to help my enterprise. For you as an executive or senior manager, I suspect you are interested in your goals. 21st-century business success is either about: Evolution – that means innovation, agility, collaboration and continuous learning - or Domination - gaining scale, global but seamless communications, resource utilisation and decision effectiveness. VR would only get my attention if it could help me do these things better, faster and more cost-effectively than I can traditionally.
I suspect that as powerbroker in your organisation you are also probably an 'oldie'.* (* My definition of an oldie is, "anyone who is older than Google or can remember when the internet happened".) For us oldies, Value will come if the design of the VR is aimed at us. It makes use of tech skills we already possess, it allows us to use our familiar tools like spreadsheets and powerpoints. Even giving us decent text sizes and making it not feel ‘gamey’. I would want to be able to forget about the software and concentrate on the goals. All of those would boost the Value to me.
Virtual worlds are real places where people can interact. Whether your strategy is to Evolve or Dominate, your people have challenges which will best be solved through interaction. So adding interaction to the immersiveness of VR adds more Value and gives it a better chance of becoming ‘The Next Big Thing’. I suspect many games will be built with this combination in mind. But if you remember SecondLife you will know that just interaction and immersion can lead to some very strange looking avatars and awkward situations.
...the sweet spot is the overlap between immersivity, interaction and integration.
VR can only be ‘The Next Big Thing’ if it hits the sweet spot. It must offer so much value that it is utterly compelling. It must do something which we cannot do without it. And it must do it in a way which is easier, more convenient and cheaper than we would anticipate.
I believe that the sweet spot is the overlap between immersivity, interaction and integration. Integration is when the designer has ensured that between participants, goals are shared, alignment is easy, people are enabled to collaborate or compete towards a real outcome, in a different & better way than they can do traditionally face-to-face or using pale imitations of face to face like conference calls, lync, Skype, webex, adobeconnect and other software packages.
When VR hits the sweet-spot it will be ‘better than life’. That for me would be the equivalent of VR giving me superpowers. And it would add real compelling Value. If VR hits that sweet spot Rory Cellan-Jones would have predicted correctly and it will definitely be ‘The Next Big Thing’ for 2016.
Cognition, Collaboration, Connection
About VR by oldies for oldies with a goal

1 comment: said...

Some virtual reality projects used both in schools and higher educational institutions, are already under way.

Virtual reality Canada 150