Positioning xR Technologies (3D, VR, AR)
3D (stereoscopic), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and even 2D each offers a different visual experience and a different amount of immersive experience for the end user. By combining these different experiences with different viewing platforms and different screen sizes, the amount of immersion and the size of the audience varies.
Each has a place in a wide variety of applications including entertainment, gaming, scientific and education. Of course the actual applications can only be limited by the imagination and this should not be considered by any means an all-inclusive list.
Basic Types of xR Technologies
In stereographic applications, the content producer/director controls the view and acts as the tour guide for the journey. This technology offers somewhat of an immersive experience by adding depth to the scene. There are cases where stereographics can be added to other advanced graphics such as VR, AR, and MR. In this section, I will only discuss the stereographic displays.
In most stereographic applications, the director or stereographer controls the experience; a tour guide through the story. Larger screens such as theatrical and home televisions provide a more social experience. For example, the family sitting on the couch watching television or a few friends watching a movie at the theater. Many smaller screens such as Smart Phones and tablets provide only a single user experience, but still allow for some social interaction. The larger screens provide greater immersion than smaller screens; however, when compared to 2D on the same size screens, the addition of depth from 3D provides a greater immersive experience.
I personally do not see 3D television glasses, at least the passive ones, interfering with the social interaction. Although, I have seen a Nielsen study showing this as one of the reasons people shy away from 3D television.
Stereographic content has found a niche in the theatrical market and has had some great difficulty launching into the home market. Many of the providers of 3D televisions have abandoned their products for a simple 4k product. Quite a few content producers for the home market have jumped off the band wagon for the next big thing: VR. However, this trend can still be reversed with the appropriate demand generation, quality content, and positioning alongside the other advanced graphics. Currently, there are quite a few smart phones and tablets attempting to launch into the personal viewing market with single viewer screens. There has also been some interest from some movie producers to extend the life of their productions by releasing for the smaller screens.
Virtual Reality (VR)
In Virtual Reality applications, users have at least some control over the experience. VR can be divided into VR 180 and VR 360. In VR 180, you can look within a range from in front of you to looking both left and right. In VR 360, you can look completely all around you. Some applications can allow the user to move anywhere within the environment while others the producer/director takes you on the journey and allows you to look around within that journey.
I have seen VR applications which can be shown either on a flat screen or with the use of goggles. The flat screen VR has been referred to as desk top VR in some cases. Goggles allow for a truly immersive experience and can be available from around ten dollars for use with smart phones and more expensive goggles. Both applications of VR can be combined with 3D for a more immersive experience.
Side Note: I have found it amazing that with all the complaints about having to wear goofy glasses with 3D televisions, I have not seen any complaints about having to wear goofy goggles. Additionally, I have seen one article about headaches from goggles being described as being worthwhile.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality combines a virtual reality component within the real world. This can be accomplished using a variety of methods from special glasses to small screens. An early attempt at AR was with Pokémon Go. A fantasy Pokémon character was placed on a map where users could search their vicinity to capture these characters. Subsequent uses use special glasses where users could view their world with a virtual world was added onto the real world. The virtual world could be characters or simple information for possible advertising.
The augmented reality experience when using special glasses is a singular experience, but does allow for some social interaction.
I believe that all of these visual technologies have a place and with the correct generation of demand combined with quality content and user access to his quality content.
The key to success will be positioning the experience offered by each content combined with the viewing medium. Find first the initial target market for success. This would be the early adopters. Locate the available content and then find the intersection between the available content and the early adopters. Gain success starting at this crossroad and then build onto each success.
Reuse of content across different viewing platforms will also be important. Content will need to seamlessly port from smaller screens to larger screens and from screens to goggles and goggles to screens. This will maximize the use of content.