View blog reactions Waiting for Speedway Fowler: January 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016



The Next Big Thing is - literally - all around you.

I was meandering through Best Buy the other day - don't judge me - and I happened upon a small sales display over near the cellphones. That's not a high-traffic area for me. I buy a cellphone and use it for years until it wears out. I don't need the latest iteration of the latest phone. But now I'm thinking... maybe I do. Because there's something you can do with the new Samsung Galaxy phones... that changes everything.

And it's this:

And this:

And this:

The new Galaxy phones fit into a strange, ugly, awkward contraption called the Gear VR.

The Gear VR is a pair of goggles that straps to your head... and creates the very primitive illusion of immersive video.

What, you ask, is immersive video?

Ever used Google Street view? Or, as someone paying a mortgage and three tuitions calls it, a budget vacation.

On Google Street View you can walk down almost any street in the First World and look at the terrain all around you - 360 degrees of 5th Avenue in New York, or the Trans Pacific Highway or the Mount Washington Auto Road, or Grafton Street in Dublin or the garment district in Thessaloniki. It's VERY cool.

It's also yesterday's news. Forget still imagery. The new immersive video is coming. 4K, all the time, all around you.

Imagine that.

Imagine watching the next James Bond movie, and you're standing next to Bond at the baccarat table in Macau.

Imagine a Star Wars movie where you're speeding through the forests of a jungle planet as you navigate toward a safe place to land your ship.

Imagine a travelogue where you're walking the streets of Paris at dawn, as the shop-keepers open up for the day.

All of it happening in 3-D, in 4K, in 360 degrees all around you, all above you, all beneath you.


Now, the device I sampled, the Gear VR, doesn't do that. It's very primitive. The renderings are chunky, and the motions are less than fluid.


It works on a very simple scale, but it works. It takes you to the surface of Mars, it takes you to the depths of the Arctic Ocean.

And you know what else it does? It creates a virtual theater, where you sit and watch a movie on the big screen, joined by your friends - no matter where they are. People from all around the world can put on their goggles and you see them sitting right next to you, chatting with you about what's going on up on the screen, whether they're in Boston or Cape Town or Taipei.

I know people who say they will never watch a movie any other way after seeing it in Gear VR's virtual theater.

And keep in mind, this device is really just a glorified GAF ViewMaster. This is nothing compared to the sophisticated VR tech coming later this year from Oculus and Sony and Steam. This is an Atari 2600 compared to their Xbox Ones.

BUT IT WORKS. It creates presence. The illusion that you are there, fully immersed in that virtual world.

Now... think about that. A device that can do all those things and an experience wholly new to the market.

And do you know what it needs?


Game design, Television, Movies.. even social interaction... it's all going to change with the emergence of these devices.

There will be a lot of jobs waiting... and a lot of money to be made.... by the people who can create content for these devices.

It's going to be - literally - unlike anything you've seen before.

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