Thinking about the future of VR? You might want to listen to Roy Taylor’s interview at GamesBeat 2016. Taylor is Corporate VP at Advanced Micro Dynamics (AMD), a chipmaker positioning itself at the center of the VR revolution. AMD is making some surprising moves, including opening an office in Hollywood. Yes, this is our new world – a chip maker needs access to Hollywood.
But chip production is not the issue here; Taylor focused on video resolution, content production, and low-cost headsets. He says the current VR headsets are amazing achievements, but we are roughly where we were in the 1890’s in the development of cinema. Edison created a projector and the Lumiere Brothers were busy shooting their first films. But cinema still needed a distribution model and the visual quality was lacking.
For Taylor, the biggest barriers to VR are pixels and cost.
. . . I can tell you the jump to 4K is a really really big one and so I think that will happen. I know the movie industry doesn’t want you to be distracted by pixels. They want to get to 4K really fast and then even higher resolutions. So I think the higher resolutions will come at the same time I think the prices will come [down].
Right now, the main investments in virtual reality experiences (VRE’s) are coming through the Hollywood studios. Taylor estimates that 160 VR experiences have been made at a cost of $70 million, with some 200 more on their way. The movie industry is moving forward, even as the technology rushes to keep up. Getting studios to drop $250 million to produce a VRE will require that we get way below the $1,000 plus PC you currently need. Taylor sees a $500 unit as the baseline for mass adoption.
You get 4K resolution on a $500 piece of hardware and virtual reality will be everywhere – in Business, Entertainment, and Education.
The Future of VR
Here’s Taylor on the future of VR, the economic model, social VR, the future Holodeck, and how a chip maker sees itself in this new era. And why he’s not a huge fan of augmented reality (hint: people falling off cliffs).
As for Taylor’s own favorite VRE’s, here’s his three:
. . . I’ve been asked before and I’ve said – and then I get an inbox the next day [filled with] why did you mention my piece of content? So let me be indulgent and tell you two or three. The scariest I’ve done is Paranormal Activity. It’s really really terrifying. The best game piece of VR content is Eagle flight from Ubisoft. It doesn’t make you sick and it’s really laugh out loud fun so I really, really like that. My best entertainment piece is The Martian. An interesting thing about The Martian it’s 30 minutes long but it feels like it’s about five minutes long. . . . those are three pieces, I love those three.
Not a bad list – incredibly scary, absolutely delightful, or something that completely shifts your sense of time. All hallmarks of exceptional virtual reality experiences.
Emory Craig is a VR consultant, writer, and speaker with years of experience in art, new media, and higher education. He is actively engaged in innovative developments for AR and VR at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling. He is fascinated by virtual worlds, AI-driven avatars, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.