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Where are the opportunities in VR right now?

Hello, friend, and welcome back to episode number 29 of my 31 day challenge where every single day I'm answering your questions about creating a career or business that you love and in today's episode, I'm answering the question, where are the biggest opportunities in VR right now? So we'll dive into all of that.

This is a full transcript of the podcast episode, instead you can listen to it here:

Where are the opportunities in virtual reality right now? So this is one of those episodes that might be completely irrelevant in a year's time. I'm recording this in July 2020, amidst the COVID global pandemic, so this answer is very specific to this particular time that we're going through even if you'd asked me this question, three months ago, I probably would have had a slightly different answer just because the the location based market was booming massively before COVID here, and now obviously, we're having to totally re redefine and re envision our of strategies and looking at where the opportunities are in the virtual reality market.

So as of right now, I would say that the key areas where we have the most opportunity to innovate with VR, and they are probably in the remote working space. So obviously, what COVID has taught us is that companies need to be more resilient and have a digital infrastructure behind them to be able to facilitate a complete remote workforce. So all of those companies that depended on having staff on site, or being able to be together in order to let's say, for example, work on design processes or have collaborative meetings. All of that has now been digitised. Right? And most companies have gone for something like zoom, and or a general video conferencing remote way of working. But for some meetings and for some collaborative work, zoom doesn't quite cut the mustard as they would say, and I still don't understand that phrase. It seems like a ridiculous analogies make. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe I'm naive, I learned it wrong as a kid and it's not cut the mustard. But if it is cut the mustard, where does that even come from? So I did an episode of the podcast back before the 31 Day Challenge. I did a podcast COVID Xr series with some industry leaders and one of the episodes with was with a good - well, I would consider him a friend, but he's also one of my clients, Jeremy Dalton at PwC and we got into the weeds about talking about the corporate and commercial world and how it was using VR during these times and also his vision for what that sector looks like post COVID and he talked about that as he talks about remote working and the way he phrased it and I definitely highly, highly recommend you go back and listen to that episode. If I remember I will put a link in the show notes to that specific episode. But what he was talking about was this idea of with video conferencing, you're missing that. So much of like an in person meeting, so much of in person collaboration is about sharing space and actually video conferencing doesn't really add that much more than a phone call.

But with VR, it's like you're sharing a space. Again, it's the only apart from in person meetings, it's the only solution that actually offers the experience of seeing someone's body language a bit more and yes, of course, we are early on in the tag, but you can get a sense of like someone's vibe in a meeting and you can actually physically share a space and physically collaborate on things, whether that be design or, you know, having a digital whiteboard that you can both like scribble on or whatever it might be. So I haven't personally like dug too deep into the remote working space, just because that's not necessarily my speciality, but highly recommend listening to that episode, because Jeremy does recommend some remote working tools that they've been using with clients since COVID happened. But that's like a massive one. Because the benefit of VR is, if VR was cheap enough and easy enough to use, I don't see why any company in the world wouldn't adopt it, to have the ability to bring their teams together even when they can't physically be together. It seems like VR is the perfect solution for that.

So at the moment, it's just about looking at what are the right apps that are the most user intuitive that could be implemented efficiently and cost effectively for clients. But also looking at budget wise can can an organisation actually invest in, in the infrastructure to roll out loads of VR headsets to their employees? And for some people, the answer will be yes, so remote working massive one. On a similar note, because I guess this could fall into the remote, like it could be done remotely, but also just in general, by far, from my experience, and from seeing like reports from the industry. By far the biggest area, the biggest growth that we're seeing with VR is the adoption of it within companies as a training tool. So I've talked, I've obviously done a whole separate episode, I believe yesterday, talking about how you go about making VR training, VR training is a huge opportunity right now, not only because VR will allow people to remotely train their users, which is obviously a massive, massive benefit during a time like this. But also in general training is the area which most businesses will be able to see the quickest return on investment. So we talk about ROI all the time. But it's a little bit harder to sell the benefits of VR as for example, like a sales tool, I mean, it can be used that way and absolutely, if it's implemented correctly, it could be but compared to, you know, a really nice flashy marketing video that costs a fifth of the price, and can reach 10 times the wealth probably like 1000 times the audience that a VR piece could. Yeah, it's quite difficult to kind of sell the benefits of a VR project in sales, because it's up against that legacy format, but currently does an amazing job. But with training, the aim of the game with training is - yes, they're not looking to make money necessarily off of VR training, but they're looking to save money, they're looking to save time and for that they need something that's going to be really engaging, that really sticks with their employees that also speeds up processes. So doesn't even necessarily have to be training that's like preventative, it doesn't necessarily have to be training that they do to hopefully stop accidents happening or stop bad leadership or bad behaviour in the workplace or whatever it might be. It could also be that this one's probably more for AR than VR, but it's looking at a tool to be used. Let's say I'm learning how to be a plumber, and I'm on site and I can't remember how to do a specific thing. Instead of just you know how like as a newbie, you would just like watch a YouTube video to try and understand. Maybe it's a case of you have a VR headset with you and it talks you through exactly that, how to do that exact process and, and you can almost like follow along but within a headset, you can maybe use like the pass through filter or something like that and although yeah, that that feels a little bit more like it's going into AR territory, so maybe let's step away from that. But training by far is the biggest is the biggest opportunity, especially in terms of growing your business.

I think I said this at the beginning of the episode, there was a very much a growing opportunity in LBA, your location based VR with VR arcades growing in popularity, with experiences like the void and zero latency like becoming really popular there was like - look, there's lots of opportunities there and not to say that they will, they won't come back, because I think when we come out of COVID, people will be really excited about having new experiences and especially because we are generally speaking stereotypically appeals to a slightly younger audience, they're going to be like the low hanging fruit of audiences, not that you should use that to mean that you don't go after an older audience, but generally speaking, the people that will be going out of their way to have new, cool, one of a kind experiences post COVID will be the younger generations who will probably be a little bit less hesitant to put a journey sweaty box on their face than net than a slightly older demographic. So I'm sure that there will be a massive opportunity going forward.

But as of right now, I would say, yeah, remote working, and and training are the biggest opportunities. The other one, which I see is a massive opportunity, but not necessarily a quick fix in terms of cash is escapism, like escapism is obviously, escapism is huge, full stop, we spend a lot of our time consuming things to escape the realities of our real life. We spend more time consuming content, consuming Netflix, consuming audiobooks, like whatever it might be, we spend a lot of time in our imagination.

Yeah, escapism, like we, we are constantly looking for new ways, especially and again, especially during COVID, where we're stuck at home and we can't do anything like those of us who have been fortunate enough to have a VR headset at home during this time. We've literally got the ability to go anywhere, technically, to go and visit a temple in Ho Chi Minh, or go and sit on a beach in the Maldives, or go and I don't know just like lots of different lots of areas where we we like go to space and have a bigger picture of the earth and get a bit of perspective on things. There's lots of really amazing escapism that you can do through your VR headset. So I think ongoing travel related content or not, that would be particularly easy to to record and film right now. But anything, mindfulness travel, like learning experiences, unique kind of escapism experiences, I think will be a huge driver of VR, in the long run. I think it will take a while, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that should be your business strategy, because we are a long way away from consumer adoption and I was having a conversation someone recently and she was like - wow, you're pretty pessimistic about the timeline for mainstream adoption, and I was like - no, don't think I'm pessimistic, I just think that we're not five years away from everyone having a VR headset at home. We might be five years away from a large kind of early majority having like a pair of Apple glasses or something, but I don't think that's the same as building the Oasis from Ready Player One and being able to do literally everything in anything. So yeah, I would say it's something to definitely keep your eye on. If you're, especially if you're like me, and you are like a, primarily, you are a storyteller, and you are a creative creator, and you want to make new and interesting art. That's definitely something you should keep an eye on. Because I think that there will be a substantially, there will be a substantial push towards that kind of content going forward, as the technology gets better and cheaper and more affordable, more accessible, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, we will need that kind of content. That will be the thing that really brings people into VR when it becomes all of those things. So definitely keep your eye on that. I just had a thought about something else that I thought was a good opportunity, and I've completely forgotten...oh, that's it replacing like event experiences, not necessarily replacing them, that is the wrong phrasing. I don't mean that at all but VR concerts and music gigs. So cool. Definitely had some fun nights going on, some of those gigs during lockdown. In fact, I think like, one of the ones I did quite early on, on my DVR was Kendrick Lamar, which if you've listened to this whole 31 day series so far, you'll know that I make a reference to Kendrick Lamar, when we're talking about social media and 360 content being used in mainstream ways. So yeah, Mel DVR, which obviously offers that kind of, oh, you can't go to the gig, but you want it music experience. Okay, well, maybe you hop into your VR headset and go to that latest Post Malone concert or, you know, latest youtube gig. Or maybe like theatres, for example. I absolutely love that Hamilton was released on Disney plus during lockdown. I've watched it like several times. Now I absolutely love that show. And I remember saying when I watched Hamilton live in the West End, I definitely I turned to my friend and I said I would 100% pay to watch that, like now like over again, in a headset at home. Like if it was because it's like a similar, it's similar enough experience, but I don't want to pay the price tag. I don't want to pay another 150 quid to go see it again, in person necessarily. But if there was a 20 pound ticket to go and watch it again in a VR headset home from the comfort of my own house? Yeah, I would absolutely do that. And do I think that would add more to the experience than just watching on Disney plus? Yes, I do, actually, quite frankly. And so there's like a big opportunity there as well. But like I kind of corrected myself, I don't think you should fall into the trap of thinking that VR will replace in person experiences. That was something that I was guilty of. For a long time, I actually thought that the future of VR was that it would pretty much replace a lot of impasse and stuff. But now after COVID and realising that we are such social creatures, there is nothing like the atmosphere, or the kind of the energy of a room when you're in it when you're in person with someone or at an event or in a meeting. But there is absolutely a place for having it as as a kind of extended, or a contingency version of something. So do I think that all events are going to go online? No. But do I think that they will all have an online or a VR element in future? Yes, absolutely.

So have a think about those areas, those are the kind of key opportunities I see for now in the VR industry. So I'm excited to see where all the opportunities end up going. For now, these are my thoughts. If you've got a question, I would love to hear from at @alexmakesvr on Instagram and Twitter. If you've got a question or a longer piece of follow up, send me an email to alexmakesvr@gmail.com and if you want to sign up for the newsletter find me at www.alexmakesvr.com.

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