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Strategic analysis
The Future of VR and 360 Video

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Written by on March 23, 2016

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Sally Cole

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One of the things that everyone in media is talking about these days is the future of VR, and especially all the 'new' things like virtual reality apps and 360 degree videos.

So in this article, we will take a look at both of these. We will talk about what is the future, what isn't the future, and also about how things need to be taken to a completely different level than what we see today.

Before I start, though, we have to discuss the scope of things, and especially how far into the future are we talking about? If we are only talking about 2016, then the future is mostly gimmicky. There is no real business scope for any of the things we see today.

If we talk about five years into the future, to 2021, then things start to look slightly more interesting, but we are still limited by all the behaviors, technology and problems with access that exist today.

However, if we look 20 years into the future, to 2036, then a lot of things are likely to change simply because we would have eliminated most of the limitations that we see today.

In this article, we will mostly focus on 2021 by talking about how we need to move beyond 2016. I will not talk about 2036, but I will point out some of the limitations that we will have in 2021 which might have vanished by then.

Sound good?

So, let's go. I will first talk about virtual reality and then 360 degree experiences.

Virtual reality

The future of virtual reality is actually quite interesting, but we need to talk about something here. When I see journalists talk about virtual reality, they talk about it as if it's something completely new. And we see journalists at media conferences appearing gobsmacked about this new wonder.

One example was at the latest News:ReWired conference where journalists apparently tried it for the 'first time'.

You look at this person and you see how amazed he is that a virtual world is presented in front of him, and that he can navigate around to see different things. Like, "wow, on this wall is a picture".

This is from another media conference:

At the same conferences, we also see how several VR advocates are hyper-inflating the buzz, like in this example:

(Photo via Bettina Weber @B_L1982)

100+% engagement? Seriously? I guess this thing called math isn't something they know much about? Unless, of course, they define engagement using some completely crappy metric that doesn't actually give you the right numbers.

I'm sorry people, but this is silly. Virtual reality isn't new and the buzz is ridiculous. I agree that there are some interesting combinations happening with VR and 360, but the concept and ability is nothing new. It's been around for at least 30 years.

And not only has it been around for 30 years, but a staggering 15% of the entire population (in the western world) explore virtual realities every single day, and they spend 6.5 hours per week with it, on average.

That's 155 million people spending a total of 1 billion hours on VR every single week in Europe and the US alone... today!

We know exactly what VR is good at, why it works for those situations, and how.

But wait-a-minute. 155 million people? Why haven't you heard about this before? Is this some kind of dark web thing that is very popular but not really in public view?

No. I'm talking about the very visual market of gamers.

We have created virtual realities in games for the past 30 years, and very successfully so. And these games are using exactly the same technologies, tools, and behaviors as what journalists are now describing as 'new' and 'the future of storytelling'.

Let me show you the virtual reality that we already have, and let's start by looking 30 years back in time.

Here is a game that is now 30 years old, which was called "Grand Prix Circuit". Back then this game was incredible, but today, of course, it looks like absolute crap. But think about what is happening here.

This is a virtual reality where you can enter into a virtual world, sit behind the steering wheel of a Formula One race car, and drive around tracks of well known circuits as if you are there.

Of course, it wasn't very immersive. You couldn't change your field of view, you couldn't get out of the car, and it didn't look real at all. But still, it allowed you to experience what it was like to be a race driver.

Since then, game developers have pushed the technology to create ever more immersive experiences. Most of the limitations of the past have been eliminated. The latest games now create environments that feel absolutely real. You have almost unlimited field of view and motion, the graphics are heavily improved, you get real weather effects and impressive lighting, the sound is spatial and authentic, the UI is impressive, and the navigation is fluid and dynamic.

Not only that, but today's virtual realities are connected, or what we call multiplayer, so that not only can you experience this place by yourself, you also can do it with friends as a team (or against each other).

So, today's virtual realities look like this:

Just look at this. This is as immersive as it gets. But not only that, it's also mixed with virtual augmented reality, and we see this in every single action game.

Now compare this to what journalists are so excited about. For instance, we had the VR experience called Hunger in LA, an 'immersive journalism project':

The project consists of the recreation of a real life event using real audio and environments modeled on real locations. The event featured is a scene at a Los Angeles food bank where delays in the distribution of food resulted in a series of unfortunate events.

Seriously?

Okay, I think it's a great idea to combine real world events with VR so that people can experience it. But what they are doing here is at least 10 years behind the curve. To illustrate this, back in 2011 Rockstar made this:

This was obviously fictionalized, but it's the same concept. They took real events and environments, modeled after real locations, and played out a number of unfortunate events to let the player experience these cases from a first person perspective.

And unlike the journalism project, LA Noire was far more detailed, far more immersive, and far more interactive. You actually had to explore the crime scenes, look for clues, interview the witnesses, and so much more.

Another more recent example is Project Syria, which is based on the same concept, and here is an example of it:

Okay, so it's a great concept from a journalistic perspective, but it's absolutely crap from a VR perspective. It looks like something made in the 1990s. It's not immersive in any way. The graphics are hideously bad, the sound design is terrible, and the effects are weird and don't feel that realistic.

What I do like about Project Syria (and other VR projects) is when they forget about the VR and just focus on the story. For instance, in the last part of the video, you find yourself standing in the middle of a refugee camp that is slowly growing around you. Again, the visuals are absolutely crap, but the concept of telling that story by seeing something grow around you is powerful.

So I'm not saying that VR journalism doesn't have a future. It does. What I'm saying is that journalists needs to get out of this 'oh wow, this is new and amazing' mentality.

This is not new. This is not some technology that we yet have to explore to figure out what works and what doesn't. VR is very old and proven technology, and it's already, at least, 10 years ahead of what journalists are doing today.

As I wrote over at Twitter the other day:

To those talking about VR. The 'first time' is amazing, but the future is about when it's the 100th time and the excitement has to be earned.

My point is that most journalistic VR projects today have more to do with journalists exploring this old technology (which they think is new), creating journalistic stories that really aren't that good.

This is not unique to VR of course, journalistic relevance and value is a problem throughout the media industry, but it's made even worse with VR. Stop thinking this is new, and start thinking about what it would be like if this was the 100th time that people try it.

What would it take, then, to make a compelling VR story? It not enough that it's 3D. It's not enough that it has realistic sound, not enough that it uses real graphics. We have been doing those things for years.

You need something far better. You need to get out of the noob zone you are in today and into the pro zone.

You also have to realize that VR is only a tool, and a very narrow one at that. It works really well for some things, but not that well for other things.

So what is VR good at?

VR is brilliant at 'in the face' moments

To see what VR is good at, we only have to look at gaming, and you will immediately notice that not all games are based on VR. Why is that?

Well, VR is brilliant at all those types of stories where being there is critical to the story. It's amazing when a story is visually explorative. It's great for allowing people to explore the moment.

However, this also means that the opposite is not VR friendly. VR generally sucks if being there isn't critical to the story, and if visual exploration doesn't really add anything (or worse, distracts) from the story.

We see this all too clearly in gaming.

All the games that are based on VR experiences are designed to be high-paced action games where what's happening at that moment is pretty much the only focus of the story.

Let me give you an example. Here is a video from the Sidemen playing Star Wars Battlefront together.

You don't really have watch this video, but just scroll to any point of it and observe for a minute what they are doing. You will notice that it's almost total chaos.

The goal of the game is to capture certain parts of the map, but because they are so close to the action, they never see the bigger picture. The result is that they are basically just trying to rush to different parts of the map, mostly on impulse.

This is very typical of a VR experience. You are too close to the scene to really understand the larger implications.

For instance, with Project Syria you get that up-close experience, but you also very quickly lose the perspective. You can see the camp growing around you, but you can't really understand how big it really is.

VR is not good for doing things efficiently

Something VR isn't good at is when you try to recreate real-life situations and efficiency, a problem very familiar to gamers. For instance, a couple of years ago, Tesco showcased a concept of a VR supermarket, and many journalists wrote about it as if it were the next big thing for shopping.

But again, we look at gaming to see whether this concept actually works. Many games today are based on people exploring environments where they have to pick up or interact with objects as part of the experience.

One example of this is Fallout 4. This is a game that takes place after a nuclear apocalypse and society has basically collapsed. And a part of the game is about picking up materials that you can either use for crafting or as a health boost.

You walk around in this wasteland and find places like the Super Duper Mart. Here you can walk into the supermarket and pick up goods conveniently placed on the shelf. It's just like Tesco VR (although in a dystopian setting).

Is this a good shopping experience?

No... in fact, it gets really tedious very, very quickly. It kind of works in a game like Fallout where people are in a lean-back mode, just casually spending hours exploring this world. But it's a very slow and unproductive way to do things, and it actually makes it much harder to really see the products.

This was also why Second Life failed. Many companies (both brands and media companies) thought the future would be for us to explore these VR worlds, mimicking real life activities. But what we quickly discovered was that it was a terrible way to shop for products, a hopeless way of conducting meetings, and a tedious way to explore topics of interest... and so Second Life failed. Not because of the VR, but because of the activity we thought would work with it.

So what we see in gaming is that every time a game is about giving people a bigger perspective, it's either done by creating a non-VR experience, or by doing it with time.

For instance, most strategy games look like this, as in giving people a top down view where they can 'manage' things on a grander scale.

Another example is Mass Effect. This is a game that is happening in VR first person mode, but the challenge of the game extends across the entire galaxy.

So how do you get that perspective from a first-person mode?

The answer is via exploration and time. You ask the player to go to each location and then have to spend hours exploring it, talking with people, and interacting with objects.

You see what's happening here? The VR element allows you to get up close and personal. It helps you feel like you are actually there. That, in itself, is valuable and interesting. But, at the same time, VR makes it very hard to really get an idea of what is happening around you, so you have to mix it with time or non-VR elements to get people to see the bigger picture.

VR is both an enabler and a limitation.

This is critical for you as journalists to understand, because it dramatically impacts how you can tell your stories.

Imagine that you wanted to cover a big earthquake using VR. It's a great idea, right? So, now you have figure out how to tell that story with all the limitation the VR creates. The first problem with VR is that it can get people up close to the scenes, but at the expense of losing the bigger perspective.

The solution would be to either separate the VR experience from the other parts of the experience, meaning that the VR part is only an optional part of the story. You could also try to explain it by having a narrator tell people about the bigger issues while they are watching the local implications.

This was what RYOT did in their "The Nepal Earthquake Aftermath".

It is a very interesting concept, but also illustrates that the VR part is only 10% of the story.

This the key point to understand about VR. It's a very narrow form of media that only works if getting people up close and center is critical to your story. And you often need more than just VR to make it work. A lot more.

VR is not for snacking

Another huge problem with VR today (and for the next five years) is that it is very complicated to use. Okay, granted, you can now watch poor quality 360 videos on YouTube and Facebook, but that isn't the real VR experience.

To actually watch VR today you have to first download an app, then download the VR experience (if the app offers more than one). That takes about half an hour for any app worth using. Then you have to place your phone in your VR goggles, which you then have to mount on your head. And only then can you start to watch the VR experience.

That's a lot of steps, it's a lot of time, and it's a lot of determination.

A while back I wrote about the many different types of behaviors that we see with content online, which I illustrated with this graph.

Most publishers today are focusing on the yellow type, the content designed for low-intent form of snacking. But think about where VR fits into this.

VR isn't for snacking. You are never going to convince someone to quickly check out a VR experience while they cooking dinner, having a break at work, or doing anything snacking related.

VR is in the category of very deliberate high intent type of behaviors. It's something you choose to do. It's something you do as an exclusive experience, and it's a decision you only make if you really need it.

Today, most VR experiences get their traffic from people who think it's new. It's a gimmick that people try out. But as I said before, the future of VR isn't about the first time experience. It's about when it's the 100th time and the novelty has worn off.

And this is where the problem is. How can you convince people to take all those steps when VR no longer feels like something new? Think about how hard it is for journalists to even get people to read their articles; how would you possibly convince them to do so much more?

If your newspaper or magazine is designed around an editorial profile of low-intent snacking content, VR isn't for you.

You need to realize that how dedicated an activity VR really is. It's long form content, for people who really want to see something. It's not for short breaks for people who are just bored.

And again, we see this with gaming.

What type of games do people play when they are on a break? The answer is obvious. They play quick social games. People would never play The Division on a break. For one thing, it takes a least 20 minutes to win a scenario.

This is going to be a big challenge for publishers. If you can't convince people to even read your articles, VR is going to be a no-show once this initial novelty has worn off.

This also illustrates that VR stories need to be taken to a completely different level than today. They need to have a real purpose. They need to be backed by real marketing to get the story out and to build excitement for it. They need to be designed as more than a tech demo and a quick 'something'.

In other words, VR needs to be designed the same way as you would design a documentary or a TV show. That's the market it is in.

Maybe by 2036 we will have advanced our technology to a point where most of this friction has been eliminated. It might be that, by then, we will be able to switch in and out of VR moments as quickly as we are clicking on things on Facebook today.

But this is not future for the next five years. For the next five years (and probably more) VR will 100% be a deliberate lean-back moment that people have to dedicate their time and interest to engage with.

In many ways, VR is currently following the path of so many other tech-based journalism ideas. Remember all the buzz about those visual stories everyone was talking about a few years ago - stories like The Guardian Firestorm or NYT Snow Fall?

Do you remember how many said that this was the future of storytelling?

Where are these stories today? Well, they still happen on rare occasions, but mostly as a gimmick. It's something newspapers do as an extra, but they are not really part of the editorial strategy or the day to day operations.

The reason is the same as with VR. These stories are designed for people who have a very specific interest, and are choosing to sit down to take it all in. In other words, they are designed for deliberate and high-intent moments. But this also why they never really made it.

VR is following the same path. It's very interesting for some things, but since it's linked to a very narrow form of content behavior, it will always only be a niche for either the special moments or for the few publishers who are focusing on high-intent niche publications.

It doesn't mean VR isn't exciting. It doesn't mean VR doesn't work. It is and it does. And we only have to look at the gaming market to see how powerful VR storytelling really is. But it's not the future of journalism. It's a only a small part of it.

But now let's talk about 360 degree videos.

360

360 degree videos are amazing. There is something magical that happens once you cross a specific viewing threshold. And we know this. Watching a movie on a phone feels nothing like watching a movie on a 50" TV, which feels nothing like watching it in the cinema, which again feels nothing like watching it in an IMAX theater.

Right?

But this is also the key to understanding what 360 is really all about. It's an enabler that solves a limitation. And it does this in three very important ways:

Firstly, there are several ways to define 360 views. We have the desktop/mobile way, in which you are merely changing your viewing angle using your mouse, a controller, or where you are pointing your phone.

Again, this is how gamers have experienced 360 degree realities for 30 years. Or look at services like Google Street View. That's 360 degree views from most of the populated places in the world.

But the other way is the 360 headset, which is what most are talking about these days. The headsets do something magical in that they allow you to change what you are looking at by merely moving your head.

This is a huge improvement in usability because it allows for a much more natural form of movement than moving your hand (mouse), moving your thumb (controller), or swiping your finger (touch). And it's often much faster and feels more natural because of the low latency and how we as humans are used to navigating our world with our heads.

Again, we see this in gaming. With a mouse you can look in a different direction incredibly quickly, but it's not very accurate and with a controller, your movements are even slower. But with head tracking in 360 headsets, you can look in any direction as fast as you can move your head, with pinpoint precision.

Secondly, a 360 headset gives you a third set of navigation, which again is particularly useful for gamers. Take a controller. With your left hand you can control your forward and backwards movements, as well as your movement from left to right. With your right hand, you can control the angle and rotation of where you are pointing. You can look up and down and rotate left or right.

And this is all we could do in the past. But with a 360 degree headset, you can now add another direction. In other words, you can move in one direction with your left hand, point in a second direction with your right hand, and look in a third direction with your head... just like in real life.

That's pretty awesome.

Finally, 360 degree headsets dramatically enhance the field of view. In fact, with the high-end VR headsets, the field of view is almost 100% (while Google Cardboard is more like 70% and feels like you are wearing binoculars).

And what this does is the same as what you experience in an IMAX theater. It takes you across this magical threshold that makes you feel like you are really there.

In other words, it maximises the immersion.

But this is also where we see what the problem is. In order to take full advantage of 360 videos, we need all three elements. We need a enhanced field of view, we need the usability with direction, and we need the enhancements in navigation.

So here is what I want you to do. Put on your VR headset and sit yourself down in your most comfy chair at home, and then watch this 360 video from GoPro:

You see the problem? You can't do it, because to actually see anything, you constantly have to move your head to where the car is as if you were an owl. And trying to watch this without a 360 headset is even worse.

The result is that you end up spending most of your time watching this:

That's not a good experience, and it's exactly the same problem that we see with most journalism VR/360 projects. They are so caught up in the tech of 360 videos that they forget that we are not owls.

In fact, most VR/360 examples are based on the concept that you can only watch them if you stand up while pirouetting around yourself. That's fun the first time, but you are never going to convince people to do that regularly.

Remember this picture from the Facebook/Samsung demo?

This doesn't really work, does it? Look at that person sitting in the 5th row looking behind himself. This might be fun if it's the first time you try this, but it gets really annoying if it's the 100th time. It's not a very usable experience.

So the 360 videos are great in theory but rather hopeless in practice, which dramatically limits their future potential.

There are two ways we can fix this, and again, we can look at gaming.

In gaming, you don't rotate your body with your head, you do it with your controller, and this also true for 360 VR gaming.

No gaming company would ever design a game where you have to look behind you by turning your head. That's a completely impractical way to navigate. Instead, the 360 element is merely a way to add immersion, but you will still use a controller to direct the movement and rotation of your body.

The same thing applies to VR/360 journalism (or branding). The idea that you can create a 360 experience where you can look in all 360 degree absolutely sucks if the only way to navigate is to turn your head.

Remember the 360 degree video about the earthquake above? It sucks if you are sitting down. It's only relevant as a tech demo. It's a great story, but it's not actually a great presentation.

So, navigating (using more than your head) is the key to a great 360 experience, and particularly if you are able to navigate across more than one axis. You need to be able to move around in the scene, and not just rotate in place. And this is where problem is.

To navigate forward and backwards, you need 3D video, not just 360 degree videos, which isn't really possible today.

Today we have either 360 or 3D, but never both. We have the 360 experience I showed you before, but where you are limited to merely rotating in place. And then we have 3D experiences like this, where there is no 360 but now you can move (or in this case, the scene is moving for you).

The way to solve this is to realize that 360/VR helmets aren't really about the 360 views, they are more like having an IMAX theater in your home. In other words, it's not about placing things all around, it's much more about that expanded field of view.

And this line of thinking will actually be even more important in the future. Samsung, among others, are working on taking immersion to an even higher level with what they call 4D sound that can make you feel like you are moving in sync with what you are seeing.

It works by using sound waves that are specifically designed to trick your inner-ear into thinking that you are moving. So, while going around a racetrack or while taking a ride in a rollercoaster, your body thinks it's actually going up and down and tries to rebalance itself because of it:

It's pretty amazing technology, but it also only works if you are sitting down. Think about it. If you were standing up and your body thinks it's losing balance, you will try to shift your weight and promptly lose your balance for real.

So, the real future of 360 degree videos isn't actually 360 at all. Instead, it's more like 60+140 degrees + extras, but most journalism projects focus on the former.

It's possible that in the distant future, in 2036, that we will have solved many of these limitations. For instance, it might be that we will develop technology that would allow us to rotate our bodies in a VR space with our minds (as opposed to with a controller). That would be very interesting, and could transform this not-very-usable 360 experience into a full 360 experience. But this is not going happen within the next five years.

However, let me give you an example that does work, which is the brilliant Netflix app (well, except for the very low resolution quality on Gear VR).

The way it works is that it places you in the living room of a mountain cabin in what looks like the Swiss alps, and the reason it works so well is because the sensation you have with your body (sitting in your comfy chair in your home) completely matches the sensation that you see with your eyes.

It's absolutely magical. After only a few minutes you completely forget where you really are and you just exist in this mountain cabin. You can look behind you if you want to (there is nothing but a boring art display there), but it's designed to match how you would watch a movie if this was your home.

(Or even better, use the Vimeo app to watch videos from your personal cinema on the moon).

But again, it also illustrates where VR/360 works, and where it doesn't. It doesn't work placing 360 videos in every single direction, forcing people to pirouette around like someone who is drunk. But it works great for expanding the field of view.

In other words, it's another niche type of media.

As a journalist, you need look beyond the tech buzz and start to 'get real' about this.

  • It works amazingly, if you can create something that perfectly matches this niche.
  • It works great, if what you create is designed for those deliberate moments with high-intent (which is what is needed for people to engage with this type of content).
  • It works wonders for the lean-back experience where people are dedicating their time and energy to something worth watching.
  • It works brilliantly if your content is centered around visuals where you benefit from an unlimited field of view.

But every other example is just a waste, or a 'tech demo'. For instance, the Frontline 360 video about Ebola has a great story and is very well made from a journalistic perspective. But the VR/360 element is completely pointless.

It doesn't add anything to the story. It's just there as a distraction.

The Earthquake VR experience from before has the same problem. It actually has a much better 360 experience and could work if they didn't shift the viewpoint in so many directions (it's very hard to watch sitting down).

But it's only 4 minutes long.

The problem with that is that nobody is going put on their VR headset, navigate to the YouTube app, then search for the video, and then watch the video for something that short.

It's another tech demo. It will never work as a real content experience. VR/360 isn't about snacking. The technology is not made for that. It's for people who choose to sit down with it for longer periods of time.

I could go on and on. But this applies to every example we have seen so far from the media. They are either based on snacking, based on a wrong idea of how to use 360, or use very crappy graphics compared to the standards of gaming today.

It's something people do when something is new, but you have to take it to an entirely different level before we can talk about it as 'the future' of anything.

Would it work without the tech buzz?

Finally, we have the problem that most examples are boring. This is not unique to VR/360 experiences. Many legacy media companies are struggling with relevance and purpose in the content they make. But it's a showstopper for VR/360 where the boundaries to entry are so much higher.

Take the NYT Displaced experience.

Ask yourself this. If you were to take away the VR/360 element and you just created a video like this, would it work? The answer is probably not. The VR movie has 120,000 views on YouTube, but most of that is due to people talking about the VR stuff and not actually the content. So if you removed the VR, how much would you have left?

My point is that we need much better and far more engaging stories. In fact, you need to think about VR/360 the same way as gaming companies think about it. It's not about experimenting anymore. We are long past that. True, there are still several technologies that need to be refined, and yes the quality (unless you are using high-end equipment) is still pretty crappy, but none of that really defines it.

What defines it is as I wrote before:

To those talking about VR. The 'first time' is amazing, but the future is about when it's the 100th time and the excitement has to be earned.

The 100th time!

And once you start to think this way, you realize three things.

First, you realize that unless you can provide the full experience, what you are doing is really just a workaround. Giving people a 360 video where you can only rotate in place really limits its usefulness to 60+140 degrees. 60 degrees for where the focus of your eyes should be and 140 degrees for the feeling of immersion. Anything beyond that isn't very useful.

Second, you realize that most VR/360 examples are really out of date in terms of technology, and not very good. They look good if you haven't experienced it before, but they are completely useless forms of content for people who have.

Third, that it's a niche, and will always be a niche. And that is not just because of the technology, it's mostly because of when we use it. The digital revolution has largely been defined by two things. Snacking on content whenever we have a break (micro-moments), which is why we use social channels, and searching for content for when we need an answer to something. But neither of these fit the VR/360 model.

The VR/360 model is for an entirely different type of moment, the macro moment.

This is great if your editorial strategy aligns this way and if your audience fits into that situation, but that's the complete opposite direction of where most publishers are heading today.

For instance, at the Digital Innovators' Summit, Duncan Edwards, CEO of Hearst Magazines, explained how they have a 'scale' strategy. There is nothing wrong with that, but this also means that VR/360 will have a very limited use.

And for those who say that this will transform social media, it won't really. For instance, Oculus Rift recently announced some new "social features", with one example being this:

The immersive sense of virtual reality is even more compelling with friends. Today we're adding new, made-for-VR games to Gear VR that let you team up with friends or compete against people from all over the world. Social Trivia, created by Oculus, is a new game that lets you and up to four friends compete in a battle of knowledge.

If you have never experienced this before, this might sound new and exciting. But it's not new. This is what gamers have been doing for ages. For instance, here are the Sidemen playing Trivial Pursuit together on the XBOX One.

Social trivia is not a new concept. A social version of Trivial Pursuit was launched seven years ago. The only difference is that the screen is now closer to your eyes.

Oculus also announced tighter integration with Facebook, saying:

We've added a new Facebook Videos tab to Oculus Video, and starting next week, you'll be able to connect your Facebook account with Oculus Video to personalize your 360 video feed based on the pages and people you follow.

This sounds great in terms of making it easier to watch those 360 videos that you might have seen in your NewsFeed, but, again, think about what type of content this requires. As a tech demo it's fun to see a 2-minute 360 video of something you came across by accident in your NewsFeed, but as a macro-moment, it doesn't really hold much value.

So, to create value you need to design longer and more in-depth and powerful VR/360 content, but that type of content won't perform well on Facebook.

As Ashish Patel of Now This said at News:ReWired:

Facebook is asking us to do longer videos. We will do it if Facebook provides a place to consume longer videos. The NewsFeed isn't the place.

Right?

The content that works really well for people to sit down with a VR/360 headset won't work that well on Facebook. It's two entirely different forms of content.

Get real and understand the limitations and the consumption behaviors this is linked to. Realize that the future of VR/360 is a very limited form of content. Then, design for that right moment (which is amazing), and design for the 100th time.

And, most of all, get over the tech demo mentality that we see today. It's such a distraction.

That's your future of VR/360.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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Check out my book: THE SHIFT - from print to digital and beyond? Free for Baekdal Plus subscribers, $8.79 on Amazon.

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Will AIs Replace the Media? »

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BuzzFeed Tasty is Fascinating »

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