By Tom Ffiske // 16 December 2020
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The Main Story
Let's talk about the design principles behind VR/AR. Come on, we’ve all seen plenty of AR/VR experience that made us think, ‘Why does this exist?’ The short and gimmicky AR apps that children play for thirty seconds, before they switch to Peppa Pig on YouTube. The clunky and nauseating VR games that proclaim that they are the future of enterprise training, as employees retch in the office corner. The companies buoyed by a wave of hype before the wave crashes and employees are scattered across the coarse sands of unemployment.

For all the good this industry brings – and yes, there is a lot of good– a sludge of poor-quality experiences rears their shrivel heads from time to time.

Why is progression so slow? Any person proposing a grand theory of failure is wrong, for a start. No overall trend can explain its slow adoption across so many disparate industries and technologies. Price is certainly a barrier for most consumer-facing VR companies – but try suggesting that to enterprise companies who have the budget, but are unwilling to commit anyway. Accessibility is solved by running AR easily on smartphones, which billions of people have in their pockets… yet so few use AR regularly, despite how easy it is to use.

I do not want to push an overall view that covers everything. An industry is far more complex than a throwaway line in an article. But I want to propose an additional factor that is plaguing many companies. Something that has become so common that it burns potential clients from adopting the technology again. I suggest that the design principles we use to design many experiences is back to front, and we are looking in the wrong places. When we design products in VR/AR, we are valuing the wrong parts of the process and leaving behind customers in the dirt.

Read the full article where I summarise my argument here
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Analysis of the top stories
Got a news story? Let me know at tom (at) virtualperceptions (dot) com.

Sky Worlds will show the Premier League in VR
  • I don't personally care about football, but I do know one or two other people do. I'll be curious to see whether Sky will consider this as a long-term investment into the area. Based on their PR, it might well be.
  • 'Sky Worlds is a fantastic example of how technology can help replicate real-life experiences and create truly transformative viewing experiences, something that is so important right now given the limitations fans have attending live events in person,' said Matt McCartney, Head of Immersive Technology at Sky.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office addressed Facebook over the Oculus Quest 2. 
  • The case is that Facebook is using the headset to onboard users to another service (Facebook's social network), which is against Germany's law. 
  • Will it go anywhere? Who knows, I am not a lawyer. But it's clear that Facebook is dealing with more and more resistance against its actions, and we'll continue to see a theme of navigation over the next few years. Think of it as seeing a rocky boat surfing the tumultuous waves - and waiting to see if it flips over or adapt. 
Spatial launched the world's first social AR workspace on mobile. 
  • The application also allows people to show and share AR models on tabletops as well, if they don't have the hardware for the platform.
  • The benefit seems to be to share immersive experiences with people who don't have headsets - which is understandable. While I wouldn't use the mobile equivalent, it makes sense to expand the capabilities for more people to access their software. 
Cooperative Innovations announced a new digital platform called Curatours.
  • The platform basically lets cultural or arts institutions use VR to give virtual tours of their locations, with lots of neat social features. 
  • Yes, there is a *air quotes* COVID angle to this story. But I also see the benefit for people who live further away and want to see the arts for themselves. Thinking beyond the pandemic, tech like this has a home. 
Creative XR Showcase and Market reveals 20 experiences. 
  • I also tagged along to the VRChat event area which was very cool; hidden bars, dance areas, and a train carriage where the experiences can be watched. If there are any winners of collaborative spaces in 2020, it is VRChat. The CreativeXR team did a great job creating the virtual space. 
  • The experiences themselves are all interesting. One to keep an eye on.
Tomorrow is the webinar on VR training. 
  • Okay, it's not a TOP top story, but it should be a good laugh if you're around. Want to prepare for the new year? Sign up and get some expertise from some amazing people. 
  • I don't know about you, but I plan to have a festive beer during the session...
Other stories
This is a new section for smaller stories that warrant just one sentence to convey the news. Got a better name for it? (Because I am sure a better one exists...) Do you like it? Email me with any suggestions.
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That's all for this week! Want to have a chat, let me know about a news story, or talk business? Either reply to this email, or contact tom (at) virtualperceptions (dot) com. Have an excellent day! 

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