Everybody is saying that the VR industry is going to boom very soon.
However, not everyone is so positive about the situation after all. Kevin Geiger, executive at the International Animation VR Research Center of the Beijing Film Academy, has predicted that 90% of the players will fail eventually in the future on the stage of the 2016 T-EDGE VR Summit, co-held by TMTpost and New York Times. “This is not going to be the big successful year. I am projecting four or five years from now, we will have the golden era of VR. This is going to be a bloody hell, now until 2020,” he said.
Kevin Geiger is a seasoned profession talent in the field of the development of immersive content for animation with 15 years of experience at the Walt Disney and 25 years of experience in the art and film entertainment sector.
He concluded that the industry prospect of the VR industry from 2016 to 2020 in four sentences:
1. VR will disrupt everything;
2. The language of VR will evolve drastically;
3. The VR ecosystem, hardware, software, and content, will be full of complex ethnical, legal and political issues;
4. The VR era will begin in 2020.
People exchange information through communication. In Kevin's opinion, VR will replace shared information with shared experiences as the VR technology further develops. VR technology will provide us with an immersive experience that we have never had before, through which we can gain information.
For instance, a person who lives in Africa can understand what’s life for a guy in America is like and vice versa. By actually feeling like they are there, as directly as possible without physically being present. The life of a villager here in China can be directly understood and experienced by somebody who lives in Europe. VR technolgy will break the borders between nations and promote and enhance mutual understanding.
But of course, aside from all the exciting advantages that VR possesses, the VR ecosystem, hardware, software, and content, will be full of complex ethnical, legal and political issues, which is something that people tend to neglect.
Kevin Geiger believes that VR can be deceiving since it creates a simulated virtual reality that goes beyond the simulation experience that the past technologies can create. Such cutting-edge technology can bring entertainment when used in the film and gaming industry, but can also be dangerous if not used properly as well. If people use the data recorded by VR devices for criminal uses, it will arise a series of social problems.
"2016 is the big year right? We all know. VR yeah! Come on everybody, software, hardware, content, people. This is not going to be the big successful year. I am projecting four or five years from now we will have the golden era of VR. This is going to be a bloody hell, now until 2020," Kevin Geiger commented, predicting that 90% of the players in the VR industry will fail during the next 4 or 5 years.
However, with risk comes opportunities, and therefore companies can also thrive under the heavy competition and grow from all the mistakes.
What follows is the transcrip of Kevin Geiger's speech:
I would like to thank our distinguished host TMTpost for setting up this wonderful event with New York Times. I think what distinguishes this particular event from many of the VR summits and conferences that you see in China is thought leadership, not just focusing on hardware, software or technical issues, but really thinking about where VR is going, where immersive media is taking us in the industry, entertainment, in our society.
So I am very pleased that I am representing Beijing Film Academy and the iAVRrc to be a part of this wonderful event. The Beijing Film Academy is the first and foremost film school in China. As most film schools do here, we keep current technology. So I was asked in last November to set up the International Animation VR Research Center for the Beijing Film Academy.
As an organization, our mission is to promote quality immersive media in China and internationally. So we bring together international experts from overseas and combine them with the best talents of China to produce the next generation of cutting-edge content, immersive media, virtual reality, mixed reality, augmented reality for China and globally.
As part of our mission, we are engaged in currently a number of projects and one exclusive for TMTPOST and New York Times. We haven’t announced this yet but I am announcing it here in this morning.
The first four projects in the beginning are from different areas of VR. When I say VR, I am also referring to mixed reality and augmented reality. So just very quickly. One project, Hutong Hunt is augmented reality treasure hunt through actual Hutongs in Beijing, featuring animated characters, stone lions, dragons, dog guards that come to life to help you find the treasures and also keep you from finding the treasures.
Story forest, if any of you have seen the work by Glen Keane, what the Disney animator did with HTC Vive headset and Google, you will have some understanding of what this project is. Set with Chinese cultural legends and interactive content so people can interact with the story tellers to build the story together in Chinese.
That’s an animated VR. In cinematic VR, 4 dishes and one soup is a cinematic VR project that’s set in a Chinese new year celebration dinner when the son or daughter goes back home to the village to meet with their families after a long absence and engages in a very entertaining conversation. And this happens in and around HTC VR.
And finally, the Way of the Warrior, which is a mixed reality project in cooperation with Xi’an Terra-Cotta Warrior Museum. We have been having some initial discussion with the museum. All these projects have different collaborators and different partners who are interested. If any of you in this room would like to have some little tease or your curiosity is raised by this, I will be happy to talk about this later on today.
I have been thinking about what to talk about. And I was asked to do an overview of the VR industry. So I thought I could talk about statistics and stuff. But I think most people in this room already know that. If you don’t know that you can look it up. So what I really want to focus more on are some big picture projections. I am not particular smarter than anybody else, but there’s something I see in the wind coming down the road in the area of VR. I wouldn’t say good or bad, but challenging and an opportunity.
VR will disrupt everything
VR will disrupt everything, every single industry. Traditional media is going to be shaken up, turned over by virtual reality, by what immersive media will bring to the table. This will bring risks and also opportunities. It is like a big wave coming towards the shore. That wave will either hit you and wipe you out, or you can surf that wave to the very glory.
There may be businesses that will emerge in the next number of years. Things that we could have imagined, you know for example when you have your phone maybe your are on a video game you can skim the video game, you can skim your phone with different decorations different looks.You will be able to do that with actual surroundings with VR or AR.
Businesses will pop up in which people will have VR experience and things that have never happened. Maybe a loved one you have never had the chance to say goodbye to. You have content creators who will be helping to generate these moments that you can share with family members that don't exist anymore.
Things that we can’t even begin to imagine will arise and it’s going to people that are fast, think outside the box and who are flexible to take advantage of this. People like you in this room. I would have imagined that what anybody in this room who has been thinking about this VR age is thinking about how they can take advantage of this and use it to their benefit.
VR will replace shared information with shared experiences
So currently we surf the web, we look at different websites and fill our brains with stuff, notes, blogs, information. It’s all up here in the head. But where we are going now ironically with this technology is a place in the heart.
We have seen with different VR documentaries. I don’t want to steal anybody’s thunder later today, some very interesting work that will be shared here regarding how VR can be used as an empathy machine. So a person who lives in Africa can understand what’s life for a guy in America is like and vice versa. By actually feeling like they are there, as directly as possible without physically being present.
The life of a villager here in China can be directly understood and experienced by somebody who lives in Europe. This is a wonderful thing, this is something, when used properly, actually engenders a revolution of our understanding of each other as people, breaking down boarders between countries and you know in the best case augmenting our humanity and understanding of each other, something which is indeed very exciting.
I talked to a Buddhist monk who is really excited about VR because he wants to use it to let people experience the meditation. Maybe they are afraid of meditating maybe they don’t know it’s not for them. But it put them into a meditating state through VR and transcend that state to a higher level of consciousness. So there are many exciting things here on the level of shared experience.
The language of VR will evolve drastically
What I mean by the language is the creative landscape of how VR is used. Currently, VR is defined by what has gone before. We have people coming from VR such as myself from film, from TV from traditional media. And the very first thing we do is take what we did before and try to adapt it to VR. And the best of us here in this front row are going beyond that, are not only adapting what they did before but trying to understand what’s new about this where can this go. And that’s exactly what we need to do.
Just like automobile, the car used to be called the hoarseless carriage. They defined the car by the thing that’s missing. There’s no longer a hoarse we have an engine, so we can use it without actually using an animal to use it. That eventually evolve into Lamborghini and the Mercedes Benz we drive around today. This happen similarly to VR.
The entire generation of people like my one-year-old daughter, she will grow up with this medium, something that’s normal to her. And her understanding of what it is and what it can do will be a higher order of magnitude beyond the things we currently can seize up. But it’s our duty to position the medium to a place that is taking the next step.
To learn there is an exciting opportunity here to invent the rules, to create, there’s white space, to create paradigm. We can create the creator guidelines that can allow people do their best work in animation in live action, games, and in other areas. And I realize of course I am speaking from the entertainment context because that’s where I come from so please forgive me for that front.
But the cool thing is that it excites me that we move towards what I would describe as mind event. Currently we have this, there’s nothing wrong with hardware, we need hardware. But it’s very much in your face. The ancient beings of VR are stuck in your face like one of the face huggers from Alien. And you have to kind of get pass all that and the technology has to submerge itself so that we are purely focused on the experience.
I will tell you guys a secret: nobody wants to use VR. My mother doesn't wake up one day in the morning and says I want to use VR today. What my mother does want to do is fix her sink, she wants to watch her favorite TV show. She wants to talk to my aunt. If VR can help her do those things, VR will take off.
If VR is only cool for people like ourselves who are interested in technology and cutting-edge applications, it will fail because it will never gain attraction with the general public. It’s our responsibility to make VR somewhat go away, to not let people be aware of VR but the experience that they are engaged in. To help facilitate activities that they are trying to do, whether it’s fixing a car or finding a cure for the illness you have.
The VR ecosystem, hardware, software, and content, will be full of complex ethnical, legal and political issues
Many of you in this room may know when in a location-based VR context and you have your VR headset on and you are walking in this environment and you turn right to change direction, if you are in a small space, they will trick you into thinking you are in a larger space by adjusting the amount you turned in VR and the amount you actually turned in real life.
You are taking a step in this direction, but the amount you are taking a step in VR is adjusted, so you can have this feeling or moving around in a huge space even though you are actually in a small physical room. Right? You are being tricked, you are being deceived. And that’s for entertainment purpose it’s very clever right. You can also be tricked for reasons that are so good, maybe that aren’t so beneficial not for your interest. This is something that we have to think about as thought leaders, our politicians, our philosophers, teachers.
Think about how VR can be used for good and how we can avoid the abuse. Many of you might probably be aware of issues of cyber-bullying, where people online can put up a website, probably happen a lot in America and maybe more in other countries, to make fun of somebody. Students will do this to each other, they tease each other online they will use facebook they will use other software platforms, social media platforms, to tease each other. VR has the potential to do this to even a greater extent.
Imagine in AR, we can make Shannon , I can make a pig’s face and stick it to his face. When people look at Shannon in VR they see a pig. This might be a way of making fun of him. This will be the potential things we are able to do. And it may sound funny in that case. But it can also be used in ways that might not be so fun for a ten-year-old who might really gets hurt by this.
This is something that has to be taken seriously and think about. In VR, in order to get a high fdlty of experience when you are in a gaming context or in any entertainment context, you body movements are tracked right? Where are you, what your body language is like. Are you nervous? Are you excited? Your eye movements are tracked.
So imagine this. VR potentially puts us in the ultimate surveillance state where everything you do, where you are, how you are moving, where you eyes are looking, is tracked and recorded, and stored.
You know I can say oh Grant Robert here in the front looks a bit nervous because he glances to the ?left the VR recorded that. What’s wrong Grant is anything you should be telling us? Is everything ok? Maybe you are lying, are you lying? These are the types of things VR will raise to the surface all these questions. And who owns the data. Right? Why you are alive when you are dead.
All these data are being recorded about you. Where does the ownership lies? With the company who run the platform, or the country in which the platforms exist? With the people, who are the citizens of this country? These are the questions we have to give some thought to very carefully.
The VR era will begin in 2020
Finally, god news and bad news. Bad news first. 2016 is the big year right? We all know. VR yeah! Come on everybody, software, hardware, content people. This is not going to be the big successful year. I am projecting four or five years from now we will have the golden era of VR. This is going to be a bloody hell, now until 2020.
I was at a conference last December and somebody asked me for prediction of the next five years of VR. And I said it’s going to be a dog piling activity.
Everybody is jumping on. Ever since Facebook announced they have acquired Oculus, investors, manufacturers, content creators, keep jumping in. So it’s going to be a dog piling activity. But in 5 years, 90% of these dogs will be dead, meaning that most of the people that get involved will fail.
Sounds very negative doesn't it? But this is typical almost in every industry. 90% of the people who get involved don't make it, right? There are not 10 Apple companies, there are not 10 Googles. There is only one Apple and one Google. But, there are successful cases. And there are also cases people fail and learn from their failures, and then go on to succeed. So what I hope for everybody in this room is that during 2016, 2017, 2018, as we are struggling trying to figure things out, make mistakes, failing, that we learn from that and continue to raise higher, and that we will find the thing that is game changer for virtual reality.
There is something with VR that, it’s not just one thing, it’s a number of things, there is going to be a point of which, game changer they call it, that really kickstarts in a serious way what VR can do for us, and how we can take advantage of that creatively and industrially, educationally, spiritually, and so forth. That is going to lead us to this higher ground.
Hopefully early in 2020, but I am encouraged for all of us in this room working together will have a bright future really as soon as we wanted. If VR has taught us anything, if China has taught us anything, it’s that things typically happen faster than you could imagine.
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Li Chengcheng, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.