When there’s no reason for a technology to exist

This was a breakdown in a friendship. I’d basically insulted what he’d spend close to 5 years working on and there wasn’t much coming back from that.

We’d been debating his business, and I’d let my impatience and frustration get the better of me and said something I should have kept to myself.

“VR isn’t innovative, its actually a waste of time”

“all your predictions about things to come hinge on some very fragile ‘ifs’…”

That was it, I’d shot down what he envisioned was a paradigm shift on how we consume media. And he was pissed.

But sometimes people need to hear hard truths and I felt this was one of those moments.

Despite VR having lots of interest and investment from the likes of Facebook and HTC, i personally feel that, at least for now and a 10 year window, its a dead end.

don’t get me wrong, there are enterprise level applications which are amazing, in the realms of construction, medicine and military. But as mass consumer innovation, honestly I think its a fringe technology. VR isn’t even that new, it was around in the 80’s, the evolution is that the tech and resolutions have improved significantly, the costs have also dropped, though i’d argue, not by as much as is needed. But for all this so-called innovation, its not resulting in the shift in behaviour VR advocates claim, its been at least 4 years and i’m still waiting, just like Trumps claims of election fraud, maybe its time to consider that when there isn’t any smoke, there also isn’t any fire.

So, whats wrong with VR? Why am I so bearish?

For the same reason I have reservations (to a lesser degree) about crypto (though to be fair, i’m starting to appreciate some nuances in crypto)

VR doesn’t have a technology problem, it has a content problem. At the end of the day, a book is only as useful as the story it tells, a TV is only as useful as the programs it shows, as Marshall McLuhan stated, the medium IS the message. And in the case of VR, the medium is lacking a message.

Bare with me, let me break it down.

VR content production – the problem here is the cost, its more expensive and requires different technical skill to produce content for the VR environment, especially if you’re simply filming, if you’re doing CGI rendering, thats basically in the realm of video game production, which again, imposes a time, cost and technical expertise issue.

VR content – next, lets assume you have the skills to create the content be it with 360 cameras of a crew of CGI world-making developers, what about the story? One of the interesting things about the animal planet is that there are broadly two types of animals animals whos eyes are on the side of their head allowing for an almost 360view of the world at a given time, and animals with eyes pointed front, and interestingly about animals whos eyes point front, they also have strong hearing to supplement. firstly guess which class of animal we fall under. and, secondly, guess what happens when we hear a sound behind us? This very animal response, turning your head to meet a stimulus, is one of the foundations of film making story telling… and completely negates VR. Since we turn to stimulus, that implies we also turn away from non-stimulus, why then, would you need 360, given you are always moving to the new stimulus in the environment?

These two key issues, represent for me the biggest hurdles in VR adaptation, aside from the obvious issues of issues with comfort, eye fatigue, dizziness, cost and access. And until the VR industry can reconcile the content problems, consumers are unlikely to make that paradigm shift the VR community has been heralding.

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