Understanding the Future, Today

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Everyone knows virtual reality has the potential to create an unparalleled virtual experience, but nobody knows when people will begin interacting with this medium in their everyday lives.

Mike Bloxham, Tony Mugavero, John Soloman, Aaron Luber and Angel Mendoza all know the power of virtual reality first hand. As leaders in their industry, they work to map the unknown territory of VR by improving its content, platforms and devices.

Luber explained that many upcoming platform and technology releases will come to market by the end of the year, coordinating with the holiday season.

“We’re at an amazing moment literally right now. It’s here,” Luber said.

But even as the use of VR is beginning to be democratized, the industry still needs to understand how people can get to the point where they’re using VR in their everyday lives, and not solely as a source of entertainment. They need to not only understand the opportunities, but also take an inventory of the threats that could prevent the technology from rapidly expanding. More importantly, they need to address these issues up front. Some of these issues surface from experience length and purpose.

As a culture, we’ve developed a cultural habit for short content. Experiences need to be snack-sized if they are to hold maximum attention. As soon as a video lasts over a minute and 15 seconds, the completion rate drops below 80 percent, according to Solomon.

But keeping content short isn’t solely a result of millennial desires. Currently, it’s hard and very expensive to produce VR experiences longer than three to five minutes. The panel likened this to the production of pop songs, pointing out when vinyl records first came out, songs were three minutes long because that’s all the vinyl could hold. For the music industry, this early development set a precedent we never moved beyond.

While this could be different for the industry of VR, it’s still too early to tell. As Bluxhom pointed out, the industry is still learning this media and the best practices to make it compelling. According to Mugavero, they need to be sure they’re using the medium to tell best a story, not to use it simply because they can. To ensure brands create compelling content, it’s up to them to be educated and be sure VR is the right medium to carry their story. Brands also need to develop analytics to measure whether using VR will return their investments and live up to their consumer’s expectations.

When done right, virtual reality has the power to completely immerse people in situations they will probably never experience. From walking a tight rope, to wandering through the movie Paranormal Activity, to the frontlines of the battlefield, VR can build brands and our understanding of the world.

While not even the industry knows the future of VR, they do know that they have to work together in order to better understand the state they’re in, and where the future will take them.

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