Virtual reality is starting to gain mass market adoption, both via mobile devices and high-end headsets. But VR addition will only become mainstream if the experiences are worth strapping a device to your face for.
So far, many VR consumer experiences have focused on games or movies. Today, myWebRoom has announced its virtual reality social network, myVR — available in October — to help fill a gap the industry has been discussing for some time. The social network allows users to create rooms, which immediately reminds me of PlayStation Home, the social platform Sony included with the PS3.
Room creation needs to be easy to use in order to remove any barriers to adoption, so how does myVR handle this? “Upon signing up, users are immediately given a default room that they can then customize at their leisure,” John Gonzalez, co-founder and CPO at MyWebContent told me. “There’s no real answer to the time it takes because it really all depends on how creative the user wants to be and how much customization they want. They can change their design anytime they like.”
To help with that creation process, myVR offers a number of themes and designs. “Once users click on the edit design button, our Design Navigator allows them to switch between three different modes — background themes (the room itself changes), items (the option to change out individual items), and full rooms (pre-set rooms curated by our team that include background themes and the items that go with them bundled together),” Gonzalez said.
MyVR is free to download and use for Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR. But how “free” is “free” in this context?
“The app is free as in truly free for our users,” Gonzalez said. “There have been conversations about in-app purchases that grant users more customization features but that would be in the future. Right now we want to focus on providing a valuable experience to our VR users.” MyVR isn’t just about rooms and social interactions with other users. Coming from the team that created myWebRoom, the content discovery platform, the platform will allow you to view content within a virtual space.
This content is organized across 21 targeted interest feeds such as travel, sports, DIY and food, all of which are also fully customizable.
“Our main business model is content advertising, where we will promote featured content from our partners in specific areas of our app (without being intrusive on our users, of course),” Gonzalez said. “The second model is product advertising. Since people are customizing their rooms with real products that they can purchase, we are currently exploring partnerships with retail companies.”
So what does the future of myVR look like?
“We understand that VR is the most immersive platform on the market today, and see a lot of potential in allowing people to connect and share experiences together inside of it,” Gonzalez said. “We are starting out with the basics: Allowing people to read articles, watch videos, and browse the internet together while they voice chat. These things are not new, but the VR medium does definitely enhance these experiences so we wanted to start there.”
Gonzalez knows this is just the start, and content production hardware will okay its part in where we go next.
“As the technology progresses and 360 cameras produce higher quality images, I can easily see social VR moving towards traveling to different destinations and being able to explore places with friends from inside your headset,” Gonzalez said. “That will be fun!”