The wait is over! The future has arrived!
Virtual reality is quickly making its way into everyday lives and we want to be the first people to learn all about it! So we tracked down Virtual Reality expert Angus Stevens for a chat. Angus is the managing director at StartVR, a specialist VR company focused on creating and using the new age technology to redefine entertainment, education, business and communication.
StartVR hosts a team of professionals with particular skill sets to create original VR content, working with major companies including Qantas, Google, PlaystationVR and Red Bull on exciting future VR related programs.
Ahead of the of The Creative Network’s Workshop ‘Virtual Reality: a 360 degree creative medium’ that Angus will be hosting at JMC’s Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne campuses this March 2018, he has kindly taken some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for us and give us an insight into the exciting new world of virtual reality.
Where do you see the future of VR heading?
I think what’s going to happen with VR is that it is going to go down the same pathway as video arcades did back in the 80’s. Already what we’re seeing is location based entertainment. In the States and China they’re having more and more VR centres set up where you put on the little backpack and the goggles and you go through space and experience VR that way, so it’s kind of like a gaming ride experience. The guys just came back from the States and said they did one piece that was like Star Wars which they said was heaps of fun, so that will be maybe the next couple of years.
From that, just like it did with video arcades, it will move into the home more and more and then it will become mainstream over the next ten years. That’s looking at it from an entertainment point of view. From a commercial perspective, we’re finding there are a lot of opportunities with training and B to B. Even when you have a product and you’re looking at an authenticity play which can show the origins of a product and how it has gotten to market, VR is a very powerful tool to be able to show that. So I think there will be more and more of that commercially. I also think the next technology iteration will be the introduction of sound and voice activation and reactions within the VR experience, hopefully within the next five years
How are you noticing the growth and demand for this type of technology?
It’s actually interesting to see; when the StartVR kicked off in 2015 it was one of the first VR companies ever. In that time it’s gone from 4 people to now having 15 regulars and another 10 that are always in the building as well. We also have offices in LA and over the course of that really rapid growth, what we have seen is that Australia is leading the way in terms of VR. The stuff that we are doing right now is right at the forefront, which I think is partially because Australians are always up for something new and that there is a real appetite locally so we have a lot of commercial work coming in. We then feed off that into our original content ideas and vice versa. So all the time we’re just learning shit and then using it to make cool shit, so it’s working out really well.
Do you see VR integrating into everyday life, beyond just entertainment?
Yeah, I mean VR will definitely increasingly become part of everyday life. The way I would quote it is that it’s like Dr Dre and his headphones. Everyone was like “there’s no way I would wear those headphones on the train” and then sure enough look at everyone now, so VR is going to play in the same sort of space.
They have some amazing devices that are coming out over the course of the next year and so with those will be multiple ways of being able to use it beyond just entertainment. There are many different environments in which you need either empathy, a sense of presence, agency, interaction or wanting to see the world in a perspective other than your own. They’re the five filters that we use when we’re looking for different work and whether you should do VR and then it’s just going to keep growing.
Location based entertainment is where were seeing one area of growth but then we’re having more and more film franchises saying we need a VR component, we have corporations saying that they need training when it’s too expensive to take their people to a specific location, so we need to recreate that and then use it as a training environment to be able to do it. So yeah, the options are endless.
How long do you think it will take VR to gain traction if so becoming a commercially viable product?
In terms of how long until VR becomes commercially viable, we have an office of 25 people so we’ve got it working now. I think there is going to be maturity within the industry and there’ll be no doubt a consolidation of it as well. It’s a very unique set of skills that you need. While it’s kind of a hybrid of some other skills like film making, gaming, digital, agency types all coming together really neatly, it’s also a really unique beast so it will be interesting to see other companies that try to catch up.
So yeah, its viable now, but will become even more viable. There’s all these stats saying that it’s going to be worth billions and billions of dollars within the next 5 years, no doubt that will play, not just here but also overseas, particularly China, America and Europe. So yeah, game on for VR!