The consumer market hasn’t embraced VR because the industry hasn’t nailed the storytelling, according to location-based entertainment VR expert Bob Cooney.
Speaking at Tuesday afternoon’s XR Summit at the Hotel Okura on a session exploring take up of the medium, Cooney argued that the challenge for storytellers is that it puts the user the centre of the experience.
“Stories are usually other people’s stories told to you. But with VR, you are the one that is living the story, and we haven’t figured out how to write so that the user can explore their own story. That’s why it’s not resonating with people,” he said.
Disappointing consumer take up, however, has not stopped firms from experimenting with immersive technologies, particularly in the B2B, travel and entertainment sectors.
Cooney argued that location-based entertainment has a clear business model because “a couple of times a year, people will visit and buy tickets”, especially if it is integrated with other media. A successful case-in-point he mentioned was location-based amusement park, The Park Playground in Antwerp, Belgium which has integrated a TV series into one of the Park’s experiences, involving a bank robbery that goes wrong.
Fellow speaker Pieter Van Leugenhagen, co-founder of Yondr, says that although the consumer end of the market slowed down for his company in 2016, his firm has built up a solid business producing 360° and VR experiences for the B2B sector.
Yondr’s work has included creating virtual wayfinding tours so that people can navigate around big warehouses, and for travel brands to enable customers to go on virtual trips before they buy a holiday.
“It’s a huge business opportunity for a travel industry suffering from a price war,” he added.
In entertainment, meanwhile, digital producer Muki Kulan gave delegates a whistle-stop tour of companies that have been innovating with VR.
These included the upcoming virtual holographic tour featuring Amy Winehouse (already sold out), in which a projection of the late singer will “perform” digitally remastered arrangements of her songs, backed by a live band, singers and what the production company Base Hologram calls “theatrical stagecraft”.
Kulan also helped produce a location-based AR experience, Consequences, written and performed by Harry Shotta, which takes users on a journey through a London Grime Club.
Using VR and AR to enhance virtual online collaboration was also a use case demonstrated at the conference by another XR summit speaker Kalle Saarikannas head of partnerships at Glue collaboration.