Oliver Kibblewhite, Head of Special Projects at REWIND, will be speaking at VR World taking place on the 16th and 17th of May at Olympia Conference Centre in London.
REWIND are a creative agency and digital production studio based in London. They are specialists in virtual reality and work collaboratively with their clients to create immersive VR environments.
Oliver Kibblewhite took some time to answer our VR World Speaker Q&A:
Please tell us a bit about the work you are doing in the VR/MR/AR space?
REWIND is a globally recognised content production agency. The team uses creative technology and strategic thinking to create innovative experiences for brands like the BBC, NBC, Red Bull, and Björk. We’ve combined our heritage in digital design, visual effects and CGI production with a bleeding edge approach to VR, AR, MR, DOOH and VFX.
We’ve created award winning experiences like BBC Home - a VR Spacewalk and re-invented the product launch with the reveal of Jaguar’s I-PACE concept car. REWIND is also an approved content developer for Oculus (Rift), HTC (Vive), Sony (PSVR), Samsung (Gear VR) and FOVE. The team was invited by Meta to join its early access programme alongside being an approved filming partner with Nokia OZO and Google Jump.
What benefits do you think immersive technologies can bring to your industry?
One of the most interesting elements to VR is its ability to affect us emotionally. With standard media you are inherently limited by the flat screen in front of you. It is of course possible to convey strong emotions, themes and ideas to an audience - we’ve been making emotionally powerful films for the last 130 years - but the immersive nature of VR takes it to the next level. You can literally step into the shoes of others and see the world from their point of view. Shared perspective breeds understanding. VR can, and will, drive compassion and allow us to feel and understand more, through being exposed to situations and places that we otherwise would never experience.
Which industry do you think will be most impacted by VR/AR/MR technologies?
Someone recently asked me: what are the virtuals that VR has an influence on? I said ‘everything’. VR headsets are simply screens that know where they are in space. They do nothing else. The most powerful thing is the transportative content. There’s no fourth wall, we’re not trying to suspend the disbelief, we’re instantly in it. We don’t have to try and tell you the narrative, or use cinematography or music and editing to trick you into believing you’re there – you are there. For selling a product it’s amazing, but it’s also important for things like training and healthcare. For example you could train people on equipment that’s dangerous or expensive or use VR to treat people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
We work across VR, AR and MR, we understand and appreciate that each has very different uses and benefits. VR will be increasingly used for longer, narrative lead pieces of content. These will focus on entertainment, and make full use of the inherent transportative nature of VR. MR will have more commercial uses, with the potential for business being endless: it is different to VR in that it brings another reality into ‘real-life’, and enhances your everyday world to streamline mundane tasks. This will have an untold impact on the way we do business and organise our lives.
How are partnerships contributing to growth in the immersive technology market?
Strong partnerships are key to ensuring that immersive technology is able to experience continued growth and become fully accessible to members of the public. Both HTC and Oculus have set aside funding to ensure that content is constantly being developed for their platforms. Ultimately, content is key and if there isn’t a wide range of experiences available, many people won’t be able to justify spending £800+ on the higher end VR systems. Similarly, hardware manufacturers like AMD are continuing to sponsor both technical advancement and research and various high profile conferences and events in order to drive the industry forward. Like HTC and Oculus they have a vested interest in ensuring that Virtual Reality is able to reach a mass market, and they want their products to run the most advanced VR experiences with ease.
Are there any projects or applications of VR/AR/MR that you’ve seen that are particularly impressive and why?
Not to toot our own horn, but some of the most impressive uses of VR I’ve seen have come from REWIND! One that immediately stands out for me is ‘Home: A VR Spacewalk’, a project we completed for the BBC which pushes the boundaries of narrative in immersive experiences further than it’s ever been taken. Another example would be the launch of Jaguar’s I-PACE electric concept car, which was the largest social VR experience ever attempted. 66 people experienced a connected HTC Vive tour around the vehicle, which is something that has never been seen before. I also really enjoyed Framestore VR Studio’s ‘Field Trip To Mars’, an incredible use of immersive technology that allowed a bus load of school children to see what it would be like to drive across an alien landscape. It really pushed the boundaries for alternative methods of learning in schools, and could help to get children interested in science at a younger age.
What are the key ethical issues that arise from the use of immersive technologies and how are these being addressed?
Virtual reality can change what a person sees, how they think, what they feel and even how someone behaves, in part because we believe it to be ‘reality'. Which is how VR has been used to treat conditions like autism, PTSD, depression and paranoia; offer pain relief and even promote recovery in paraplegics.
It’s a powerful tool capable of creating a lasting psychological and behavioural impact. For example, a study showed that people who embodied avatars that looked like older versions of themselves were more inclined to save for retirement after they returned to real life. Such changes are of concern when it involves violence or criminal activity in the virtual world. A code of ethics is being written but there is no regulatory body in place, yet. This will change soon, and in the meantime, content creators like ourselves are making sure we create good content for the right reasons.
Where do you see immersive technologies in the next 18 months?
We learnt a lot about eye tracking making Project Falcon - a AAA quality launch day demo - for the FOVE headset, to say it's important for VR is an understatement. It will fundamentally improve the user experience through intuitive user input, secure authentication, improved graphics, and expressive social interaction. It will be used to bring new levels of immersion to VR experiences, and we’re going to see a lot of development in this area over the next 18 months.
What are the key challenges to mass market implementation of VR/AR/MR and how do you see these being overcome?
It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Headsets are making their way into people’s homes, but it’s going to take a while before a HMD is as much a part of the furniture as a remote control. Great content will create demand for HMDs, driving growth, but whilst distribution is limited, many companies are questioning reach and ROI, which limits the amount of content made.
It’s great to see many brands embracing VR as we need these recognised companies with engaged audiences telling their stories and bringing their IP into VR to drive interest in the medium. We also need killer apps. Pokemon Go did a great job for AR, we need something similar to really get the masses excited about VR.
About VR World
Now in its 2nd year, VR World 2017 is a 2 day conference and exhibition focused on Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality and its impact beyond gaming.
With 4 in-depth event tracks and over 150 leading speakers, no other European event covers the market in as much detail.
Amid unparalleled networking opportunities, attendees will have access to visionary speakers and case-study led content. Hear from inspirational keynotes and thought-provoking panel discussions from key players redefining the boundaries for technology.
Register now to reserve your place for THE VR, AR and MR event of 2017.