What’s Missing from Virtual Reality?

By Colin Glenn

“Just about every product at the Mobile World Congress will collect data.” – Colin Glenn, Client Management Leader for High Tech & Software, Commercial Business Group

If you didn’t mention your devices were part of the Internet of things your stand at Mobile World Congress was pretty empty this year.

Oh…or virtual reality – even if it’s not core to your business. Stands were full of visitors sitting in a booth playing VR games. I’ve never been around so many individuals switched off from each other, all in their own private experience. Strange at a networking event!

The thing I really felt was missing was the “why?” It’s all very well to connect to the Internet of things (IoT) or participate in virtual reality, but why? In terms of actionable insights and consumer behaviors, what is the true value of the device?

Industry wise, the IoT focuses mainly around data – how to use it and protect it. There was little talk at Mobile World Congress about real benefits.

Value of VR?

Maybe at 36 I’m already too old to understand the fashion for virtual reality VR). Don’t get me wrong, I can see it’s a must for gaming. But trying to sell me a phone because I can retro fix it to a headset and have an at-best average cinematic experience is a little lost on me.

This is the same 36 year old who, three years ago, thought that 3D TV was “the future.” Three movies and a couple of sporting events later, I stopped using mine. Quality content never really appeared and the glasses were annoying as soon as you looked away from the screen. You had to become locked to your screen – similar to the mass of ”networkers” who were gaming at those booths.

The only exception I found was the HTC VIVE, which gives you the freedom to move around. As far as hardware goes, this was hands down the best equipment at the Mobile World Congress. The only “what if” is whether you can feed it enough content.

The possibility to use something like VIVE in the retail world could be great. Imagine the next time you’re looking for a new home. Pop in to a viewing room at the real estate agent’s office and virtually walk around 15 homes. Or how about using it in a car showroom to customize the car you want? Seeing the options on a VR car would be far better than flicking through pages of content and materials, making best guesses.

I believe one thing’s for sure. Outside of gaming, virtual reality must offer hugely practical solutions that problem solving solutions. Otherwise it might end up like my poor old 3D TV.

For those who tell me I’m wrong, surveys at Mobile World Congress found that while over 60 percent of people think VR is key to their business in the next year, 75 percent had no strategy for it.

It’s All About the Data

Just about every product at the Mobile World Congress will collect data. Product and service development increasingly will rely on collecting the right data and using it wisely, negotiating the data privacy battleground.

Our recent State of Customer Service 2015 survey unearthed some fascinating insights into consumer expectations over data privacy and personalization for technology companies. See what we found out about the three hottest industries in the world: technology, communications and media.

2 thoughts on “What’s Missing from Virtual Reality?

  1. Bob Fahlin March 8, 2016 - Reply

    You have asked, absolutely, the right question. From a business perspective, “cool” is not a reason to adopt a core technology. With budgets often being tight, squandering our dollars on something just because it is cool, is not an option.

    It seems everybody in the tech world these days is into virtual, or augmented, reality technologies. If we set aside the hardware vendors, these folks are necessary to insure that we have the devices needed to deliver solutions, what remains is a collection of companies “playing” with the technology. So many of these companies are simply tossing a bunch of tech against the wall to see what will stick. Why they fail to inspire is for exactly the reason you suggest, “Why would I do this?”

    I have the privilege of working with a number of technology companies that are far more seriously focused on delivering meaningful, valuable, solutions around virtual and augmented reality solutions. We are laser-focused on delivering solutions to contractors, builders, real estate and facility management professional. My personal area of expertise in in the facility management side of things.

    What we are able to do with the technology is nothing short of transforming the way facility mangers work. Using, predominantly, an augmented reality solution, we allow users to interact with the world around them in a manner not available with any other technology. Imagine walking into a mechanical room, or other large football stadium, and the things that need maintenance, or repair immediately identify themselves, with no more effort on the user’s part than a gaze. Even further, reaching out and gesturing towards one of these items instantly delivers everything the user needs to know about it. The time savings in applying this solution against traditional methods is very significant.

    There are a dozen other use cases in this field alone, that hold great promise for improving efficiencies and reducing costs around the design, construction and management of the places we work and play. While many tech companies may never deliver more than just novelty solutions on virtual and mixed reality platforms, rest assured, there are a few of us that will. And when these solutions emerge, the “Why” will be very clear. They save time, money, and lives and enable us to manage our day-to-day responsibilities far more effectively and efficiently.

    • Colin Glenn March 8, 2016 - Reply

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and post. Great to hear of your experience with VR too, happy for you to reach out direct to learn more about what you are doing in this space (http://uk.linkedin.com/in/colin-glenn-37b40941). I agree– there could be so many practical solutions that are innovative to improve the way we can work – but the current focus is all about pushing media content to mass consumers of smart devices – rather than the full capability the technology offers



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