It's no coincidence that the devices we love to consume on also let us create. We can consume on our smartphones but also take incredible photos. We can consume on our laptops but also make beautifully unique websites with little web dev experience. Groundbreaking technology allows us to create just as easily as it allows us to to consume. And that's exactly what the Virtual Reality movement is ignoring.
I read an awesome article on Business Insider last week by Matt Weinberge titled "The future of tech is already here — and nobody cares". It spoke of Best Buy closing down 200 of its 500 Oculus in store demo stations, the never ending decline in both popularity and sales of the smart watch market and the skepticism behind companies like Apple and Doppler Labs wanting us to have "hearables" in our ears 24/7.
It also asked a very important question "Can cutting edge tech successfully overcome our natural habits?"
No. Not if it keeps inhibiting us from expression.
Every product Matt speaks of in his article is a consumption device, a time management tool or a smart gadget. Eliminating the possibility for creation (or in this case expression) is a death sentence. The ability to consume is only half of the experience in today's social media gadget driven world. And as a result, products that only allow us to consume and not create grow tiresome quickly and often force us to ask the question "do I really need this?".
The key to great tech is making a device that inspires some one to use it in a way that you never could have imagined. This is the tech that sticks with us. In order for virtual reality to have the same success as personal computing and smartphones, it needs to start inspiring us to create and express ourselves. And it needs to give us that ability to create in an easy to use, affordable and portable platform. Otherwise it's just going to be another thing we use to play video games and watch porn.
Twitter succeeded because of the Arab Spring, Apple succeeded because it made the computer personal and the app store, CDs were burnable, Snapchat has filters, Instagram has filters, Facebook gives you a voice, Wifi gives you mobile creativity. These devices inspire you to both create and consume.
These days there's a lot of talk about virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses and even 3D Audio headphones. It feels like every day we're learning about a new device that changes the way we CONSUME and INTERACT with content. Even more, they are making the consumption experience as easy as hitting a power button. Shouldn't it be the same for creating on these devices?
Unfortunately, it is not. There are many dev kits and developer platforms out there for VR, but they are still only reserved for a professional market with big budgets and large teams who have the ability to both purchase the expensive equipment and program it. The average Joe can't start creating VR content the way they can get their voice heard on social media, create beautiful photos on instagram, burn a mix for their crush on CD (20 years ago) or make a smartphone app from their personal computer.
Don't get me wrong, I think Virtual Reality is well on its way to providing easier tools and platforms for immersive content creation. But until then, VR is going to remain a niche experience. Think of it this way, when we saw HD Video for the first time, we wanted to express ourselves in HD Video. Thankfully the Handycam and iPhone gave us that.
VR needs its Handycam and its GoPro of Microphones.
VR needs more authentic creators and content. We hear and see the world in 3D, so how about making more content that captures the way we see and hear? Once more, how about making devices that let us capture our world the way we actually see and hear it and not the way a video game character or a porn star does? We need videocameras and microphones, not algorithms and goggles. We need tools that don't over process or over saturate, we need tools that just listen and see. They can't break the mold of our usual habits, and they can't be devices that require 24 hour engagement or wearing to succeed. They need to be capable of being picked up like a paintbrush, put down like microphone and inspiring like a blank canvas.
Expression is what keeps us moving forward, I think Virtual Reality needs to better job at incorporating affordable, accessible and portable creation tools into its experience. Do you agree? Or do you think there is a different factor missing?
From One Ear To Another,
Hooke Audio Founder