Sunday, February 21, 2016

To Swim, Soar and Drive - with Virtual Reality

  • Last week, Sports Illustrated distributed a virtual reality (VR) version of its annual Swimsuit issue and Chris Hercik, its creative director said “Everybody wants to know what it’s like to be on the Swimsuit photo shoot. It’s the question I get all the time … This year we are allowing everyone to be there in the Dominican Republic, with us and the models, to experience the Swimsuit issue in a completely immersive way.” Note: Wevr, a virtual-reality studio produced the content, which can be viewed using Google Cardboard.
  • In addition, Facebook’s Oculus unit began taking pre-orders for a virtual reality bundle of Rift and “Oculus Ready PCs” that will ship in April. (Initial pricing for the bundle is $1,499.) Among the titles that will be available is “Apollo 11 VR Experience” which focuses on the first manned spaceflight that landed on the Moon.  
  • Separately, Honeywell Aerospace said it will develop VR technologies for military ground vehicles, including an instrument panel that replaces windows, and Carey Smith, president of its Defense and Space unit said "The development of virtual window technology is a significant shift in the concept of design for military ground vehicles …  this technology would provide [drivers] with improved awareness that could impact the survivability of a new, more agile ground vehicle solution.”

MY TAKE

  • Regarding Swimming with Sports Illustrated -  its content is one of many early stage VR initiatives in the media industry. Quality VR offerings will increasingly be dependent on 1) the skill of the production team, 2) understanding the expectations of the target audience and 3) keeping up with the pace of VR innovation.
  • Regarding Soaring with Oculus –  While there has been a lot of focus on video game content for the platform, Apollo 11 is an example of its use in providing an educational immersion experience. Note: Oculus' current pricing and hardware requirements may not be mainstream, but technology innovationcompetition and economies of scale should, over time, bring its capabilities to a larger audience.
  • Regarding Driving with Honeywell – VR, as a tool to provide “enhanced awareness”, will likely be used in many areas including defensemedicinesurveillanceagricultureland and property management and education.

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