The biggest challenge facing the burgeoning augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) industries is clear: There is currently a lack of high-quality engaging content.
That was one of the top findings of a survey that law firm, Perkins Coie recently released in conjunction with Upload, an organization serving the AR/VR community.
The more than 650 entrepreneurs, executives with established technology companies and investors who completed the survey selected inadequate content offerings as the most significant challenge facing the AR/VR industry.
As a practicing attorney in Los Angeles for many years, this struck a chord with me. The local media and entertainment industry is, at its core, all about creating desirable content. As such, L.A. companies are well-positioned to fill that content gap and propel AR/VR forward. Many already have the technical skills to use advanced technologies and the creativity to produce new and innovative types of programming.
Of course, some Hollywood veterans will be thinking: We’ve been down this road before, and there is usually more buzz than lasting effects. We saw it with “multimedia,” 3D television and even an earlier generation of VR in the 1990s. But there are many reasons to believe that this time around, things will be different.
For starters, the investment that consumers must initially make in order to access AR and VR content has significantly decreased, and headsets and equipment are becoming more user-friendly. This is important, because the current quality of the user experience was also cited in the survey as a significant obstacle to the mass adoption of AR and VR technology.
The continued proliferation of mobile devices is also significant, as demonstrated by this summer’s Pokémon GO craze. Eighty-nine percent of our survey’s respondents believe that, during the next two years, VR and smartphone manufacturers will focus on developing mobile VR technologies to capitalize on the ever-increasing amount of time consumers spend on mobile devices, as well as the appetite for AR/VR experiences.
Additionally, the hunger for engaging AR/VR content goes well beyond gaming. While our survey respondents believe that gaming will see the most investment within AR/VR over the next 12 months, they expect movies/TV to be the second most active area, followed by live events.
The key point is that the market for AR/VR is no longer confined to techies who can afford expensive equipment. Average consumers, more tech-savvy than their counterparts 10 or 20 years ago, are increasingly eager for new programming experiences. But, as a caveat — the industry should not fall into the trap of creating programming that shows off technical expertise in AR/VR at the expense of creating engaging entertainment experiences.
The content, in many cases, is already there, with opportunities particularly bright in the live streaming of sports events or concerts. Monetizing live events is easy in the sense that it requires little additional effort by the artists — the challenge is designing and creating the AR/VR platforms that enhance and duplicate the live experience.
In the words of one of the survey respondents: “Low-cost, ubiquitous hardware is a matter of time, but we still need a ‘killer app’ to convince the majority.” The killer app, of course, could be a term to describe a host of strong content offerings.
And creating that content makes perfect sense here, in Los Angeles, at the confluence of technology and entertainment.