POVs from the VR pros: Enterprise applications / by Stephanie Llamas

Audi VR Experience  created by Audi in collaboration with ZeroLight

Audi VR Experience created by Audi in collaboration with ZeroLight

Enterprise applications have quietly been setting the stage for consumer VR, and this will be the year they begin to shine. Unlike the nebulous mass market, enterprise experiences like training, medical, manufacturing and design applications benefit from more straightforward monetization models and use cases. But are they going to be the gateway to consumer adoption? Will the next killer app be a cross-over between enterprise and consumer? Should developers consider dipping their toes in both pools?

At the SVVR VR Expo March 29-31, I'll be sharing my own insights on these topic but, even more exciting, I'll have the privilege of moderating a panel of interactive technology's best and brightest. So in anticipation of what is sure to be a pretty kick ass discussion, I reached out to a diverse group of industry pros to get their take on the world of enterprise and VR.

Scroll down for the full interviews.

Marcos Sanchez, CEO at Truth.Ventures
"
Enterprises are conservative by natures and tend to prefer a wait and see approach. That doesn't mean they're not investing... but massive investments are yet to come."

Vinay Narayan, Executive Director of VR at HTC VIVE
"Enterprise is critical. We'll follow a similar content driving hardware adoption that PCs took with Excel, going from the office to home and bringing the PC along with it."

Michael Yang, Managing Director at Comcast Ventures
"
Enterprises have a greater ability to pay and could help economically underwrite a lot of technology development that could benefit the whole market."

Rob Vawter, Director of Developer Advocacy, VR & Mobile at Samsung
"Consumer applications, primarily games, will drive VR's growth. The next killer app will either be a AAA development budget game in a new-ish genre or an interactive experience that treads new ground in VR storytelling."

Barry Hoffman, Chief Strategy Officer at ZeroLight
"High quality, immersive experiences drive affinity through emotional context in a way that is extremely powerful when compared to any marketing or sales broadcast you see today."


Marcos Sanchez, CEO at Truth.Ventures

What do you think this year’s killer app will look like?

I think this year's killer app probably won't be "killer", but it'll still be pretty damn cool.  I'm not sure what it will be exactly, but I would imagine a few key features.  It'll need to have some sort of social component, think "life of us" from With.in, because hey, we all like to do cool stuff with our friends. Ideally, it would be untethered, which is something that limits our ability to be fully immersed, and immersion is what makes this killer.  Lastly, for me, I'd like to see something that's beyond room scale, say warehouse or multi-room scale, which also means, it should integrate "reality" with VR. As for AR?  Well, I think we're in earlier days, so I suspect that killer app for AR is really next year.

What will be this year’s biggest growth driver: Enterprise or consumer applications?

Enterprises are by their nature conservative, so while they are investing, consumer offerings are going to be the big drivers in the near term as the products and hardware matures.  I do however believe strongly that the enterprise is where the money is at, and that will be focused mainly on AR.

Do you think Enterprise applications will be important to general consumer growth? If so, how?

Everyone is learning, so I think that consumer apps will learn from enterprise apps and vice versa. They really bring different things to the table, since they have very different focuses.  Consumer apps focus on storytelling, realism and interactivity, enterprises focus on practical applications. Both components offer complementary skills that can be utilized to the benefit of the other.

What can we expect from Enterprise applications this year and beyond?

Enterprises are conservative by natures and tend to prefer a wait and see approach. That doesn't mean they're not investing, but it comes in the form of experimenting, creating proofs of concepts, etc.  Massive investments are yet to come.  

What types of apps are you most looking forward to in VR/AR?

VR to me is all about immersive digital entertainment that taps into our emotions like never before, so for me, I'm waiting to see full length interactive experiences where the characters are a mix of real people in their own headsets, and AI generated personalities.  Where the experience blends storytelling and dynamic plotlines. It's the matrix light. As to AR, I'm waiting for the headset to be not bigger than my currently glasses, and with a tap, I get full access to computer screen on the interior lenses that can help with everything from driving to buying groceries to monitoring my health.


Vinay Narayan, Executive Director of VR for HTC VIVE

What do you think this year’s killer app will look like?

I don't think there is a need for a single killer app. It's about finding the meaningful app for you. For gamers there's many options and growing. In the non-gaming space there's a host of opportunities including shopping, VR/AR conferencing, and continued integration of AI tools like Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, as well as new hardware peripherals will make existing experiences even more compelling.  

What will be this year’s biggest growth driver: Enterprise or consumer applications?

Enterprise hands down. It's where the ROI to end user is and therefore the revenue for the developer are. 

Do you think Enterprise applications will be important to general consumer growth? If so, how?

It's critical. We'll follow a similar content driving hardware adoption that PC's took in that content that you can use both at work and home will be key. Pretty much the same adoption path as Excel went from the office to home and brought the PC along with it. That being said educational content will fit that model the best in the near term as there are growing educational content in VR. 

What can we expect from Enterprise applications this year and beyond?

AEC space continues to be hot as design in 2D mediums continues to be a challenge. Medical and Education are poised for accelerated growth compared to 2016 and will continue to drive some of the most compelling solutions to both the industry and general consumer. You're also seeing back office VR solutions moving to the sales floor with VR being used as a design tool and also used in the showroom floor as a sales enablement platform. 

What types of apps are you most looking forward to in VR/AR?

Integrating solutions like eCommerce and multi user collaboration into existing experiences is very exciting. So many ways to approach the opportunities. 


Michael Yang, Managing Director at Comcast Ventures

What will be this year’s biggest growth driver: Enterprise or consumer applications?

Consumer applications will remain the primary driver of VR adoption in 2017.  The hardware platforms are just starting to get out there and there are a lot of strong game developers and content creators with great, new experiences that will hit the market.

Do you think Enterprise applications will be important to general consumer growth? If so, how?

Enterprise applications will definitely reinforce consumer growth.  Given the small base of VR/AR users in the wild, any additional users, consumer or enterprise, will be good for the overall market.  Enterprises have a greater ability to pay and could help economically underwrite a lot of technology development that could benefit the whole market. 

What can we expect from Enterprise applications this year and beyond?

I’m expecting more breadth and depth of applications to emerge.  There are too few enterprise app developers and independent software vendors focused on enterprise use cases today.  And the ones that are out there are still learning, trying, testing, experimenting, so I would expect them to improve upon their prior work and become more knowledgeable about the industries that they are serving and the business processes that they are enhancing.

What types of apps are you most looking forward to in VR/AR?

At Comcast Ventures, we are focused on two broad areas of investigation for the balance of this year - 1) location-based VR experiences and the value chain that enables it and 2) vertical enterprise VR/AR applications that help enhance traditional workflows and processes.


Rob Vawter, Director of Developer Advocacy, VR & Mobile at Samsung

What do you think this year’s killer app will look like?

Either a AAA development budget game in a new-ish genre or an interactive experience that treads new ground in VR story telling. 

What will be this year’s biggest growth driver: Enterprise or consumer applications?

Consumer applications, primarily games. 

Do you think Enterprise applications will be important to general consumer growth? If so, how?

Yes. As VR training for expensive, dangerous, inaccessible and inconvenient enterprise applications becomes more widespread, consumers will understand VR interactions and begin to value and pay for utile VR experiences to the exclusion of shallow, novel experiences. Social enterprise experiences (chat, shared creation, walkthroughs etc) will also drive consumer awareness and desire for VR.     

What types of apps are you most looking forward to in VR/AR?

Empathetic interactive experiences, asymmetric multi-player games, and co-op and social VR experiences.  


Barry Hoffman, Chief Strategy Officer at ZeroLight

What do you think this year’s killer app will look like?

The killer VR app will provide a highly engaging user experience that is intuitive, allowing you to go ‘beyond reality’ whilst being totally compelling. Visual quality is a primary attribute of how believable VR experiences are perceived, as a medium it needs to provide more than what’s possible in real life. With 360 sound already prevalent, a provider's ability to maximize the capabilities of the headsets on the market will differentiate its content from others. ZeroLight's VR experiences have always stood out due to this philosophy, displaying the car to such a high level that people believe it’s really there, whilst giving them the ability to do what’s not normally possible. We’ve even had people try and get in the back seats after opening the doors. Our software is capable of going further, so we’re ready for even higher spec HMD displays.

What will be this year’s biggest growth driver: Enterprise or consumer applications?

Both, consumer consumption will be driven by early adopters in terms of gaming applications. Enterprise will utilize VR for the number of efficiencies it drives on the back end in terms of design and training, whilst facilitating sales and marketing efforts on the front end – differentiating their offer from the competition.

Do you think Enterprise applications will be important to general consumer growth? If so, how?

Enterprise applications will make the technology accessible for new users to try and experience. This will lower the barriers to entry for the technology as a whole, allowing the market to acclimatize to the potential of the technology. For most, enterprise VR will be their first journey into the unknown which will in turn inspire further consumption.

What can we expect from Enterprise applications this year and beyond?

Higher quality experiences. The right experience turns even the most avid opponent of VR into a fan. Every time when I transport people from their regular showroom into a beautiful scene next to a beautiful car, they express themselves. High quality, immersive experiences drive affinity through emotional context in a way that is extremely powerful when compared to any marketing or sales broadcast you see today.

What types of apps are you most looking forward to in VR/AR?

Next to seeing ZeroLight’s technology encompass new forms of immersive tech alongside our high-end VR, I would love to see companies that focus on story-led content turn their focus to the medium. I am also very excited to see the release of the shared experiences that I’ve had the luxury of trying.


Get more data and insights at the SVVR VR Expo 2017

From Mock-up to Medium: Why VR is Doing Better Than We Think
Presentation on March 29, 2017 at 11:30 PM

Enterprise: VR’s True Killer App
Panel on March 30, 2017 at 1:00 PM