Well if you jump into some Quill Theater VR shorts, you can see how some creative people imagine our virtual future. If we think back to the hype curve for the mobile PDA (personal digital assistant), it all started with the Apple Newton. The device then evolved toward the Palm Pilot, followed by the Blackberry, ultimately leading to the key turner, the iPhone, which moved us all the way up onto the mobile PDA plateau of productivity. As great as this device is, we don’t see it as the iPhone of the hype curve. Time will tell us if the Quest 2 is the equivalent of the Palm Pilot or the Blackberry for this curve. What we do know today is that VR’s iPhone moment is coming soon, as nearly every large tech company is making significant investment with dedicated teams focused on developing XR glasses.
Apple is betting big on XR to be the next phase of evolution in their technology ecosystem with significant acquisitions and some of their top minds leading over 1000 engineers focused on delivering their next big thing. In very uncharacteristic Apple fashion, they have been discussing XR fairly openly within the market. According to respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple detailed their roadmap for virtual reality and augmented reality products.
Kuo expects Apple will release a “helmet type” headset with AR and VR capabilities in 2022, at an estimated cost of $1000. This will be followed by AR glasses in 2025. Ultimately they have their sights set on delivering an AR contact lens product between 2030-2040.
So once again, Apple sat back in the wings watching others lay the groundwork in VR, timing their entry into the market with a highly-perfected solution that will most likely reset the bar for VR headsets and user experience. With their keen understanding of marketing and pop culture, Apple will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars into making people believe that if they are not walking around with an Apple headset, then they are basically uncool. As much as VR needs the technology to evolve, it needs perception of the technology to evolve even more. Apple is the company that has done this consistently with great style and success.
Apple has filed a number of VR related patents over the last several years including this patent VR/AR head-mounted display (HMD) that includes a gaze tracking system for detecting position and movement of the user's eyes.
Image courtesy of Patently Apple
When you consider that Forrester predicts working from home post-COVID will be 300% higher than pre-COVID, Apple has a runway for a solution that is much less about gaming and more about what it’s most successful products have delivered: human empowerment through creative technology, user experiences and digital ecosystems. It is our POV that we should get prepared to pick the color of our next headset, friends.
Ultimately, we believe in the promise VR brings not based upon projected earrings, hype or even because of Apple’s vested interest in the space. We believe in VR’s future because when new users are exposed to Immersed and learn how to connect their computer to create multiple virtual screens; are shown a presentation on a colossal display; and chat with friends as avatars equipped with non-verbal communication cues that reinforce their dialogue, then their universal response has been...
When we set out on this study, we never imagined VR could be this good... For $300 - why the hell not?
We did not set out to predict the future, or to be that breed of techno-cool that is on the bleeding edge. We set out to solve a very real problem that we are facing as a company and as a group of human beings.
A problem that if we are being honest, existed prior to COVID, but has greatly intensified under modern conditions. In the end, we have discovered that using VR can help our team connect in many ways that bring us closer to the feeling of a real life experience - in some ways not at all, and in others even better. In the end, VR is simply a tool. It is up to us to put the tool into practice in ways that help us feel more connected. Without that intentionality, we start to gravitate toward the simplest thing which is often not the best solution, even when we’re working together in the same space IRL.
So can VR make working from home or remotely feel more human?