I’m amazed by the developments in 3D scanning since I started researching and writing about it in January. In particular, I like that the technology of 3D capturing has quickly become affordable and will continue to do so with sub-$500 smartphone-based 3D scanners and free photogrammetry apps.
Besides capturing objects in 3D, people seem to really like to have themselves volumetrically digitized, or in less funky words: 3D Selfies are the new Selfies.
One thing I also noticed is that 3D scanning is still very much tied to 3D printing. The scanners themselves are sold by stores that also sell the printers. And manufacturers of affordable 3D scanners—like the XYZ scanner and Sense scanner I reviewed earlier—are still marketing them to consumers as accessories to desktop 3D printers.
It has been a while since I wrote about VR. The last time I mentioned is was in a post where I said I was moving away from this new medium after being immersed in it for over a year.
The reason for my departure from Head Mounted Displays was that after my first VR experiences, the wow-factor had quickly—and totally—evaporated. I could wow newcomers with it, but my Oculus Rift DK2 and first-gen Samsung Gear VR became dust catchers on a shelf before I sold them in the end of 2015 (with a surprisingly high profit).
More specifically, the reason I stopped caring about VR was the lack of interesting content. None of the “VR experiences” I tried—passive ones, games and certainly not 360° videos—could convince me that this medium had a future beyond Wii-like first-time wows and corporate trade shows.
I still think this is true today. None of the available or announced VR content is going to make it the next thing every consumer wants—certainly not at the current price and probably not even at any price. A $2 Google Cardboard viewer will be fun enough for kids for years to come.
There will never will be a mass market for VR as an entertainment technology: consumers aren’t going to watch full sports event with it, watch movies with it or play full games with it.
This made me believe that VR technology has no future at all. I wasn’t going to spend $2000 of my hard-earned money on a HMD and a overpowered gaming PC.
But then I tried Tilt Brush—a Virtual Reality 3D painting application acquired by Google in April—for 5 minutes. And ordered an HTC Vive and a Gaming PC (Alienware Aurora with Nvidia GTX 1070) the same day.
The VR Era has officially begun now that Samsung released the consumer version of their Gear VR headset, which is getting a lot of media coverage and good reviews. Combining that with the coverage about the New York Times’ Google Cardboard give-away it’s clear that Virtual Reality has moved beyond the radar of insiders into the general public.
So Samsung and Google are already competing to become the VR brand of 2015. But it’s almost 2016—which will see the second wave of VR headsets come to market: Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC & Valve’s Vive and Sony’s Playstation VR, which was previously code-named Project Morpheus.
First of all, it’s perfect that Gear VR and Cardboard are already going mainstream. It will give early adopters their first VR experience, let them spread the word—and want more. More in a way I think Mobile VR can’t deliver: VR content that goes beyond the ability to look around in 360° videos (which I wrote about earlier) and beyond games with Playstation 2-level graphics—more immersive content that actually makes people feel they’re there.
For this you need 3 things Mobile VR won’t be able to deliver any time soon:
Every time a new technology is introduced two things happen: people try to describe it with existing terminology and they will try to use it for existing things. It’s an important phenomenon, because it helps the general public to understand new technology and lowers the barrier to start using it.
The downside is that it can stand in the way of demonstrating the full potential of a new technology. When it comes to Virtual Reality, trying to introduce it to consumers by focusing too much on something that’s currently popular—video—might result in them not seeing the actual storytelling potential of this emerging technology.
My fellow members of the Panel where VR-experts from Jaunt – the cinematic VR company that raised $65 Million from Disney last month – Dutch TV network VPRO and Real Estate website Funda. The Panel was hosted by John from 3sixtyfive (Thanks for having me!)
The last 8 months I’ve done a lot of R&D around VR and my co-founder and I have created a few short VR Demos – like the one we made for TEDxHaarlem. But we’ve also been working on a longer VR Experience for a client. We would describe it as a computer-generated Virtual Tour that informs prospects about the company – through branded Cardboard Viewers and a Gear VR headset – in a fun and engaging way.
Although we have more than 20 years of audiovisual production experience between us, we have learned more new stuff in about the last few months than in the last few years, mainly because of VR and the vastly different storytelling approach it requires.