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What’s Missing from Virtual Reality?

By Colin Glenn

colin glenn
“Just about every product at the Mobile World Congress will collect data.” – Colin Glenn, Client Management Leader for High Tech & Software, Commercial Business Group

If you didn’t mention your devices were part of the Internet of things your stand at Mobile World Congress was pretty empty this year.

Oh…or virtual reality – even if it’s not core to your business. Stands were full of visitors sitting in a booth playing VR games. I’ve never been around so many individuals switched off from each other, all in their own private experience. Strange at a networking event!

The thing I really felt was missing was the “why?” It’s all very well to connect to the Internet of things (IoT) or participate in virtual reality, but why? In terms of actionable insights and consumer behaviors, what is the true value of the device?

Industry wise, the IoT focuses mainly around data – how to use it and protect it. There was little talk at Mobile World Congress about real benefits.

Value of VR?

Maybe at 36 I’m already too old to understand the fashion for virtual reality VR). Don’t get me wrong, I can see it’s a must for gaming. But trying to sell me a phone because I can retro fix it to a headset and have an at-best average cinematic experience is a little lost on me.

This is the same 36 year old who, three years ago, thought that 3D TV was “the future.” Three movies and a couple of sporting events later, I stopped using mine. Quality content never really appeared and the glasses were annoying as soon as you looked away from the screen. You had to become locked to your screen – similar to the mass of ”networkers” who were gaming at those booths.

The only exception I found was the HTC VIVE, which gives you the freedom to move around. As far as hardware goes, this was hands down the best equipment at the Mobile World Congress. The only “what if” is whether you can feed it enough content.

The possibility to use something like VIVE in the retail world could be great. Imagine the next time you’re looking for a new home. Pop in to a viewing room at the real estate agent’s office and virtually walk around 15 homes. Or how about using it in a car showroom to customize the car you want? Seeing the options on a VR car would be far better than flicking through pages of content and materials, making best guesses.

I believe one thing’s for sure. Outside of gaming, virtual reality must offer hugely practical solutions that problem solving solutions. Otherwise it might end up like my poor old 3D TV.

For those who tell me I’m wrong, surveys at Mobile World Congress found that while over 60 percent of people think VR is key to their business in the next year, 75 percent had no strategy for it.

It’s All About the Data

Just about every product at the Mobile World Congress will collect data. Product and service development increasingly will rely on collecting the right data and using it wisely, negotiating the data privacy battleground.

Our recent State of Customer Service 2015 survey unearthed some fascinating insights into consumer expectations over data privacy and personalization for technology companies. See what we found out about the three hottest industries in the world: technology, communications and media.