Day one of the 2015 Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference is in the books. There were some great talks on everything from VR Cinema, to Journalism, and Inputs, but of everything I saw and heard, the opening panel still sticks with me as the highlight of the day. The all-star cast had something to do with it: Palmer Luckey from Oculus, Amir Rubin of Sixense, Google’s Clay Bavor, Samsung’s Nicholas DiCarlo, with Ben Lang from Road to VR moderating. They talked about all kinds of cool stuff, which I broke down for you here:
The panel had a lot to say about Cardboard. Clay Bavor described it as a great icebreaker, providing people new to VR with the “this is cool” moment. Amir Rubin told Nicholas DiCarlo of Samsung that Google Cardboard has been more effective for his marketing than all of the marketing dollars someone allowed him to spend.
Ben Lang wanted to talk about it. Quite a few people in the audience wanted to talk about it. Nobody on stage wanted to touch it. Nobody besides Amir, that is. He likes to talk about everything. Luckey simply stated “The rift is an open platform. we don’t control the software you put on it.” Then he asked Lang if the next question would be around which patents they’re potentially infringing upon.
Clay reminded us how unclear the future is, pointing out that people originally thought the primary use of the phonograph would be to record the last words of the dying, which I did not know. Rubin said that of Sixense’s 16,000+ developers, less than 20% are focused on entertainment and gaming. The leading category, at 35%, being education and training. He said industries like these will push us to 100 Million mobile VR users in the next two to three years, a number some of the other panelists seemed to think was a little high.
Palmer Luckey pointed out that even as virtual reality expands, it will still be the games industry behind these other parts of VR, since they’re the only people in the world with a closely matching skill set. They all joked about how people need to stop trying to throw VR into every marketing campaign without determining whether it’s a good fit. Bavor suggested we expand the SOLOMO (social, local, mobile) anagram to include VR. SOLOMOVR for life.
Everyone was excited to talk about a day in the future where memories will be able to be preserved in VR. They talked about how far livestich 360 video has to come before hardware is able to understand an environment and recreate it. Someone posed the idea that when that day comes, we’ll look back at our old memories captured in video and photographs and wish we had more to hold onto. Luckey fired back saying “I’m so ready to lament.”
Someone from the audience brought up the point that all five of the panelists were white men speaking to an audience that was 90% male. The panelists seemed to agree that more diversity was needed, but no one had a real solution. Palmer Luckey echoed his original statement that whether we like it or not, the VR industry will largely be made up of people from the gaming industry, for better or for worse. A sausage fest. Don’t let that happen.
And that about sums it up.