But they’re also keen on bringing VR to another burgeoning market—specifically the professional one—with their NVIDIA VR Ready program.
In short order, the graphics firm has started working with original equipment manufacturers like Dell, HP and Lenovo to offer NVIDIA VR Ready professional workstations and are enabling the industry’s first professional-class mobile workstation.
David Weinstein, NVIDIA’s director of professional virtual reality is responsible for the company’s professional VR products, projects and software developer’s kit, joined [a]listdaily to discuss some of the pressing questions about VR that industry insiders are pondering.
Professional VR extends to such fields as medical, architecture and manufacturing, among others. Which sector do you think has the most potential?
I think that education will be huge. The opportunity for personalized education where curriculum is presented in VR—where it’s much more of a choose your own adventure type of education—will be a really compelling domain for kindergarten through twelfth grade, as well as college. And that sort of leads in to the next one in training. When you want to train someone to do a job, or say, doing it in a VR environment—whether it’s the battlefield or the assembly line—when you experience it in an immersive environment, you learn it and remember it in a much deeper way than you do just watching it on a screen.
Are consumers ready for VR today?
Yes. In some ways, we’ve been really well prepared for it thanks to Hollywood. We’ve all seen Minority Report, The Matrix. We’ve all seen Star Trek with the holodeck. A bunch of us have read The New York Times bestseller Ready Player One. We’ve been well prepared, perhaps even better than we were when cell phones came around. Steve Jobs had to get on stage and pound smart phones into us. With VR, everyone is going to go, ‘OK, it’s finally here. I’ve been waiting for it.’ I don’t think adoption will be slow, or complicated. I think everyone is ready for it.
Who will help drive the growth of VR?
The leading edge, as always, is going to be gaming because gamers want great gaming experiences. That drives a lot of sales, and the professional markets benefit from those sales. It’s really the consumer side that is leading things, which is starting to become a theme. On the graphics processing unit side, the performance we’re pushing out every year with our new cards is largely driven by gaming, which is fantastic, and professional application leverage that.
How do you share a VR story in a non-VR format? How do you overcome that challenge of someone having to actually experience it?
Doing it directly will be difficult. How do you experience a movie in a book format? We’ve gotten good at translating formats. Whether something will translate in an automated way, that’s going to be harder. It’s hard to take our existing modes of storytelling and translate that to VR. People have additional degrees of freedom.
Why should brands be lining up for VR activations?
We’re kind of still in the requirements-gathering stage of VR. For storytelling in VR, nobody really knows the answers. So, if you want to influence what products look like, you have to get in early. That’s one reason for early adopters to participate in the VR space. There will also be first-mover advantages. If you’re the ‘first’ and people like it, you may stay on top of that field for a long time. If you get there first, you have the opportunity to influence the conversation.
One of the main problems currently for VR is people don’t have access to headsets. What is the workaround for people who don’t own the gear?
That one is hard. The solution to that one is time. HTC and Oculus are expected to ship around a million units by the end of the year, and there’s a fast rate of sales currently happening. Those are the high end devices. You already have a bunch of people with Google Cardboards and Samsung GearVR headsets. During a physical convention or show, it’s hard when one person at a time has to get a VR experience, and each takes 15 minutes. How many people are we going to get through? It’s hard, because it’s a one-to-one transaction.
How can VR turn from one-to-one to a social experience?
Mark Zuckerberg has been trumpeting that, as have others. VR is going to have a huge impact on the personal side of things. I think there is compelling reasons why it will become social, very, very, fast. Gaming could be social, and in most cases, it already is. VR can make it more social. I think gaming will be at the leading edge again.
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan