Archives For Virtual Reality

(cross-posted from the space150 blog)

We recently attended CES 2017 in Las Vegas. This year, our annual pilgrimage to tech’s biggest showcase underscored a lot of what we’ve been exploring at space150 in 2016, including voice-enabled devices and VR, but in many instances set the stage for new exploration in 2017. From a new definition of sensory perception to diverging definition for the future of mobility. One thing was clear – 2017 will be exciting.

Below, please find trends we’re watching in 2017 and beyond following CES:

Assistance Through Assistants

While a decade ago, cameras and photos were the function that drove tech, today, microphones are the new cameras. More and more, on-demand, voice-enabled is becoming mainstream. Amazon and their Alexa won CES, and they didn’t even have a formal presence.

While this may mean some very useless and rudimentary experimentation with voice assistants in the short-term, we also saw some gems. Whirlpool, for example, announced appliances that respond to your voice (via Alexa), as did Ford. GE also rolled out voice-enabled appliances. The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly practical and affordable, and no where are voice assistants more logical than when built into these systems. I think about my kids who have an expectation for touch screens – but this lays out a future that is much more on-demand. Imagine your child’s first word is “Alexa” or “Ok, Google”.

There was also a lot of buzz about the over complication of consumer devices by making them IoT-capable. Does a hairbrush or clothes iron need an app? Not today (although those products also launched at CES 2017). But the more data we have and greater connectivity of our lives, the more possibility advertisers have to truly understand how consumers act, use products and understand messages. Today, I can ask Alexa in my kitchen to start my car or how much gas is left, and that would have seemed ridiculous five years ago. Now you can turn on and check the status of your iron, coffee pot and crock pot the same way.

What does this mean for brands? As agencies and marketers, we need to help brands think through how screenless and voice-controlled interfaces so that we can add value to the consumer. What is your consumer’s experience with your brand using solely their voice, and how can you provide value day-to-day for them by connecting your existing apps, databases and your knowledge of them? At space150, we launched an Alexa Skill in December, and we’re still learning from that as we build these for clients — interaction design, tonality and more. 

Adding New Senses to Experience Design, UX and Products

On that note – and in addition to Voice, at CES we saw a significant amount of innovations in audio, gestures and haptics. More and more we saw the idea of going beyond the touchscreen to actually bringing feeling to our digital lives. This isn’t smell-o-vision. These are screens and air gestures we can genuinely feel as if they are physical objects.

We saw haptic (touch) technology coming to  shoes, shirts, dashboards, TVs and touchscreens. One of the more interesting demos we saw was Tanvas, which wants to add the ability to feel texture on a touchscreen with a new haptic feedback technology rooted in ultrasonics. Imagine a world where a haptic forcefield could keep your fingers away from hot surfaces such as an oven. That was a demo, and it was impressive (assuming you can keep bacon grease out of the tiny speakers). We also saw VR shoe demos designed to give the wearer the feeling of rough or wet texture. It’s early for this technology, but it’s certainly an area we’ll be monitoring. 

For brands, this mean that we need to start thinking about senses beyond sight and designing for touch. Textures, gestures and feelings will dramatically change how we think about user experiences and how our customers interact with our content, apps and products. 

VR Entering the Age of Inside-Out Enlightenment

Every single major brand (auto/electronics/home/IoT/drone/photography/etc) had some type of VR, 360º or AR experience in their booth this year to tell their story to attendees using immersive media. Most of the experiences were rudimentary and focused more on using VR/AR technology to build a line at the booth versus telling an amazing story using this new medium. But that wasn’t the story worth telling this year.

The biggest VR product launches worth noting at CES 2017 were: 1) Wireless VR coming thanks to new HTC Vive options, and 2) Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Power Rangers Demo, which shows the true future of inside-out VR — powered by your phone, not a helmet hooked to a powerful computer. Think Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream except it’s six degrees of freedom. This is truly walk-around VR, not 360º video or just up/down/left/right controls.

This is the future of VR/AR — wireless experiences powered by your phone, and we caught a glimpse this year. And although it’s early days, the future of these experiences will be mobile. But the technology is going to take time to get there, from hardware to software to the developer kits that make them run. Marketers should focus on how to tell stories people care about with this new tech as part of their toolboxes. Inside-out, mobile VR is only going to grow, but the only way to be ready for the future is to understand where we’re at today.

Autonomous Cars are on a Mainstream Collision Course

One of the more interesting anecdotes we heard at CES this year was from Shelly Palmer, who advises companies like Verizon on innovation. He relayed a story about Ford CEO Alan Mullaly at CES in 2012 who said at that time that, due to risk and regulations and insurance and human nature, we would never see autonomous cars in our lifetime. But here we are five years later and CES was aflame with autonomous, self-driving and assisted driving innovation.

This year, every major automaker was showing off self-driving templates, sensors, and technology that envision a much different future than what Mr. Mullaly claimed in 2012. In fact, Ford has now announced production of a fully autonomous ride-sharing fleet by 2021. The competition fierce with each company taking a different path. However, what was clear is that driving as we know it now looks much much different in the future. It will change very drastically in the coming years, and every single car company at the show (including Honda, their first year) was showing off their take on this emerging tech.

For brands, we are at the beginning of a post-ownership and post-human-driver age, and that’s worth noting. Volkswagen painted a picture (via VR demo) of all the free time consumers will have in their vehicles when they don’t have to concentrate on driving. This means brands will have new moments to capture a consumer’s attention and new considerations for when, where and how we can engage them with a brand message during this downtime. It also means smart brands are going to starting thinking about this tech ecosystem early to be prepared.

Robots Are Real

One of our least favorite “trends” this year was the continued infatuation with anthropomorphic robots — or robots that look and act like humans.

The media coverage coming out of the show seemed fixated on some examples of robots that walk like us, play chess like us, follow us around and read to our kids. In our opinion these are a distraction from some of the more innovative ways that AI and computer-assistance are really positioned to improve our lives. Because, the robots — machines capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer — are already here. They’re in our pockets, our cars, our homes and workplaces.

We’re seeing less desire year-over-year for C3PO-style, Rosie The Robot-style tech, and believe brands should instead be laser focused on creating intelligent systems that tie to the cloud and improve our lives.

How Brands Told Stories in Unique Ways at CES 2017

Finally, we saw some tremendous brand storytelling that tapped into emerging tech at this year’s show. Specifically, we would call out a few brands:

  • American Express (client) used CES as an opportunity to unveil an Escape Room for visitors with branded clues.
  • Meanwhile Intel used AR/Hololens tech to showcase storytelling with “invisible” technology.
  • Finally, leveraging the upcoming Power Rangers movie, Qualcomm used CES to create buzz for its new inside-out VR tracking, using a Power Rangers helmet.

Check out our video run-down below. We shot the whole thing using Snapchat Spectacles for that POV feeling. Based on the trajectory of the trends we saw, we expect 2018 to be an even more innovative year for CES. 

What’s Next?

Join space150 for Excited for Change: 2017 Trends for the Modern Marketer in Minneapolis on January 8th. Our VP of Brand Innovation, Greg Swan, will be leading this MIMA panel with leaders from Land O’Lakes Inc., Thomson Reuters, Fjorge and Regis for a forward-looking discussion on 2017 trends, what’s next, and how to avoid fad fatigue in 2017.

Tickets available here.

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(cross-posted from space150’s blog)

We’ve been building virtual reality (VR) experiences for two years now — starting with the Victory Motorcycle VR ride to Sturgis — and most recently with two different experiences we debuted at NY events (more on those soon!).

VR is coming of age. In fact, according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, VR is coming out of the “Trough of Disillusionment” and into the “Slope of Enlightenment.”

Many of us in the business are addicted to giving people “VR Face” — better known as the look of childlike wonder, mouth agape, that is usually a result of someone’s first time experiencing true virtual
reality.

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The latest Samsung Gear VR commercial utilizes this human truth well:

With the low-cost of the Playstation VR sure to make it a holiday wish list favorite, we’re going to see more and more of these cheesy, grinning faces in our future.

 

I did three interviews about Pokemon Go this summer, and in each interview I talked at-length about the “Black Swan” moment that was occurring with augmented reality’s (AR) rapid adoption and awareness.

None of those quotes made it into the coverage, which honestly kind of bummed me out.

However, we’re already seeing Pokemon Go’s impact on the acceptance and excitement about a digital layer atop the real world (aka mixed reality) become rationalized in hindsight — as if this was an expected adoption by the mainstream.

So it’s no surprise that Tim Cook — maker of the super computer in each of our pockets that can pull that digital layer atop the world wherever we go — is bullish for AR and what’s next.

PREDICTION: We’re going to see publishers and brands start building AR layers into their mobile apps yet in 2016. Then in 2017 this trend is going to be so overblown and undervalued (although hitting even more of the mainstream than Pokemon) that there will be a constriction of use with occasionaly sparks of genius utility and creativity. By Q3 2017 — a year from today — a handful of perfectly placed solutions will finally demonstrate the full breadth (and limits) of AR in marketing, utility and culture.

…..

Augmented reality — games and applications that impose digital imagery over real-life video — has exploded onto the consumer tech scene in recent months, most notably with this summer’s hit mobile video game Pokémon Go, which overlays the game’s characters onto images taken in real time from the camera on the player’s phone.

It stands in contrast to virtual reality, which often employs a special headset and only digital imagery, which does not depend on the environment around the user. Virtual reality has been championed by news companies like ABC News and The New York Times, who have used it to tell immersive stories in ways not available in traditional media.

While Pokémon Go and other AR apps are currently available for Apple’s iPhone, Apple itself has not yet produced any of its own AR or VR products.

Source: Exclusive: Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Prefers Augmented Reality Over Virtual Reality – ABC News

If you want to know what’s next, there are two things to always pay attention to — patents and art…



Today, a patent has been awarded to Apple for a “Head-Mounted Display Apparatus For Retaining A Portable Electronic Device With Display.”

Source: Apple Awarded Patent For Wireless VR HMD That Works With The iPhone

Virtual reality is just getting started. A bunch of companies, including HTC, Samsung, and Sony have shown off headsets that immerse you in a virtual world, and Facebook’s Oculus — credited with kickstarting the latest craze — has been selling a version to developers for some time now.

But most people have never tried or even seen a VR headset, much less been able to buy one.

That’s going to change, fast. Business Insider Intelligence expects VR to be the next big thing in gaming, with 26.5 million units sold in 2020. That would give it a compound annual growth rate of nearly 100% — in other words, sales, on average, will double every year for the next five. So get ready to be immersed.

CHART OF THE DAY: Virtual reality headset sales projections – Business Insider.

Greg Swan joins space150

The big news is out that I’ve joined the talented team at space150, and they published a great piece and interview with me you should check out.

The bottom of the piece features the following marketing and technology trends we’re tracking. Good stuff!

Real-time Social Video

With the rise of smart phones and social networks, matched with the prevalence of 4G data networks, consumers can more easily push and pull a significant amount of data between their phones and their followers. The latest exciting step forward in this realm is Meerkat, a real-time life streaming app powered by a user’s Twitter network. This start-up application blends the ephemeral nature of Snapchat with the social newsfeed of Facebook with the real-time video power of today’s mobile tech. We are really excited to see how brands make use of this technology, especially since the streams are not archived. If you miss a stream live you missed it. And launching just prior to South by Southwest Interactive (where Twitter and Foursquare “launched” will give the world’s most passionate early adopters a chance to really push the boundaries of the platform.

Transmogrified Reality

You’ve probably heard of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), but Google’s head game designer Noah Falstein recently spoke of a vision of the future called “Transmogrified Reality.” Defined as the culmination of all the different technologies in development (VR, AR, HMDs and faster processors) combined to form one vision of the future and how humans interact with each other, physical and digital spaces, and of course, brands. Here at space150, our team just built an Oculus Rift-powered virtual ride experience for Victory Motorcycles. Beyond Oculus, we’re paying attention to the death of Google Glass, the rise of Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear, and how everyday consumers will react to and potentially adopt transmogrified reality.

Smartwatch Content Strategy

Setting the brands and specific products aside, our team at space150 is exploring emerging user behavior habits around wrist-mounted devices and opportunities brands have to add value to these new platforms. While responsive design has helped companies retrofit their desktop websites for smaller screens, like tablets and phones, formatting content for a screen the size of a wrist requires a different approach entirely. When you add in the wealth of sensors (accelerometers, GPS, microphones, speakers), brands now have an opportunity to root their content and engagement platforms in new contexts like activity and location. Our teams have been experimenting with the Apple Watch and are excited to share some of our findings at the Mobile March conference later this month.

So what is it? The answer is “cinematic reality.” Essentially, Magic Leap is a device that makes virtual objects appear in real life. And it was worthy of a $542 million investment from Google. It’s also rumored that Legendary Pictures has a notable investment and potential stake. All we know is that the company is working with light-field technology. BusinessInsider revealed that Nvidia’s use of the technology made 3D images “appear more realistic and natural to your eyes.” The idea is that Magic Leap could do the same for movies, gaming, and virtual reality/augmented reality.

via 14 startups that will change our everyday life: VentureBeat

But while Oculus wants to transport you to a virtual world for fun and games, Magic Leap wants to bring the fun and games to the world you’re already in. And in order for its fantasy monsters to appear on your desk alongside real pencils, Magic Leap had to come up with an alternative to stereoscopic 3-D—something that doesn’t disrupt the way you normally see things. Essentially, it has developed an itty-bitty projector that shines light into your eyes—light that blends in extremely well with the light you’re receiving from the real world.

via What It’s Like to Try Magic Leap’s Take on Virtual Reality | MIT Technology Review.

Here’s the TED Talk from 2014:

NYT: The Virtual Reality Content Race

ces 2015 Ah, the Consumer Electronics Show: the annual international destination for the most forward-looking technology each year, matched with a frenetic navel-gazing from industry insiders that pales only to the self-aggrandizing swagger of the tech world’s brand behemoths, and big promises from baby hardware start-ups hoping to make it big on a non-working plastic prototype and a semi-polished sales pitch.

Oh, and there are always more than a few gems that make it all worthwhile.

It’s a huge show. I logged 40,000 steps walking every aisle of the show floor over 48 hours, and I’m sure I still missed something.

It’s my third trip to Vegas for the annual tech toy fest. The first was seven years ago (2008 recap); then last year (2014 recap).

For 2015, I can tell you I was inspired, underwhelmed and energized at what I found at this year’s show. This was a year of paradox for a culture in the age of technology transition.

There were more booths with Oculus Rift virtual reality demos than companies selling the 360 degree cameras and software needed to create content for it. However, there were many companies exploring new ways to maneuver in 3D and IRL realms, including via feet, ears, wrist and shoes. And NFC tattoos.

There was more talk about autonomous cars as a guaranteed reality than the infrastructure and near-term, baby-step innovations required to support a more realistic evolution.

The TVs this year were truly more picturesque than real life. Except the majority of programming is just finally starting to catch up to 4k, so buying an 8k TV would be lots of wasted pixels.

I witnessed people walking up to strangers and letting them plop a brain scanner on their noggin without a semblance of acknowledgement there could be side effects — or who owned the data from the experience.

There were drones galore. Talk about smart watches, smart homes and smart wallets. But none of it actually plays very well together, and not a lot of it solves immediate problems.

It seems to be common knowledge that if a device can send a notification to your phone, then it’s awesome. I struggle to disagree with this assessment, myself. And enchanted objects — regardless of how life-improving they may be — make non-smart objects look all the more dumb.

There were an increased number of 3D printers this year, and an encouraging base of 3D handheld scanners and material providers growing up to bolster the category.

Last year, the threat of an Apple Watch loomed over the wrist wearable and smart watch vendors. This year Apple stole some mindshare by announcing a March launch date on the first day of the show.

Meanwhile, the rise in haptic technology is truly amazing, and I look forward to that category growing into our computers, wearables and autos. Although, someone will surely get burned (literally), and I fear miseducation will impede its adoption. I guess we’ll see.

Here are some of the advancements I saw this year that caught my eye, separated into the following categories:

  • Virtual Reality
  • The Future of Hands Free
  • Technology to Impact Your Daily Life
  • The Future of Personal Transportation
  • Television
  • The Drones are Coming!
  • Internet of Things
  • Robots, because CES
  • Music
  • The Ridiculous Side of CES

Here we go!
Continue Reading…

The Verge: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Virtual Reality