Phil Harrison believes in immersive technologies, but is cautious about mass market appeal.
It was announced earlier this week that Phil Harrison, co-founder of the PlayStation brand, had invested in UK-based Dream Reality Interactive. Following this revelation, Harrison has offered some interesting sentiments concerning the virtual reality (VR) industry as it stands, and what he sees as essential for the future.
In a lengthy interview with Eurogamer, Harrison stated: “Sony’s blazing a trail in VR.
“I don’t believe that any of the devices that are on the market today are going to be the winners 10 years from now,” he added. “Meaning, I don’t think any of the devices we see today are going to have the legs to last a 10-year generation.”
Expanding on this opinion – one which is generally considered the most likely outcome by the early adopter VR hivemind – Harrison suggests that commentary offered by his peers may have some truth to it.
“All of the devices need to go through a massive change… and Phil Spencer is right when he says, ‘When you’ve got loads of wires sticking out of your head, it’s not going to be a mass market adoption. There will be a core audience who continues to be “blown away” by VR as it is, but for it really to take hold, the hardware needs improving.”
‘What improvements?’ you may well ask. Harrison, again, appears to agree with the general consensus of those who have been involved with VR since the debut of the first Oculus Rift development kit. Compute performance, weight and ergonomics; nothing that wouldn’t be expected. However, Harrison also believes there’s a limit to public adoption regardless of if/when these problems are solved.
“It’s likely – and this is unproven, nobody knows for sure – there will be a mass-market reluctance to wear a completely immersive device,” he said. “Some people just won’t like the idea of blocking out the outside world, whereas I believe more of the world is going to be interested in a mixed reality: an augmented reality where you can still see, you can still hear – you can still interact with real people but it’s augmented with additional data. That is the end goal.”
Of course, Harrison is speaking of technology that already exists. Microsoft’s HoloLens provides this experience, but isn’t yet consumer ready. When questioned on this, Harrison told Eurogamer:
“They have made some strong moves in creating an ecosystem for VR through the Windows platform, and there will be hardware providers in Windows’ ecosystem who bring VR headsets to the market.
“But the bet seems to be around Hololens for now, and that’s a pretty impressive piece of technology. The price point means they are positioning it as an enterprise solution today, but over time you could imagine that becoming cheaper, smaller and more mass market.”